Nothing rouses the anxiety monster like divorce. You’ll do anything to run away from it. Drugs? Exercise? Meditation? Here’s my secret weapon to combat divorce anxiety: journaling.
Journaling? No kidding. It’s a surefire way to kill the demons of doubt. It’s what kept me sane last week during a cross country move where I had left old friends, old loves, old familiar places, picked up sticks in California and started all over again in the Midwest. I was terrified. Was I too old to make this move? Can I make new friends? What if my business doesn’t translate to the new environment? Journaling for the last three years helped remember see why I was leaving. It showed me that I was a lot stronger than I even realized. It reassured me that the hardest part was starting – and that the rest would fall into place. It swept away much of my anxiety. I relaxed a little more.
Here’s why journaling is so critical to dashing the anxiety demons during divorce recovery.
Your brain is struggling to keep up with your new emerging identity. As it searches for answers, you experience emotional ups and downs that feel foreign and frightening. One thing is for sure: The rollercoaster of emotions in divorce happens so fast that you’re left with little time to remember if you’ve felt this way in the past. Each day seems to be a new experience. New thoughts, new memories, new coping skills, new situations. You find yourself crying out, “I don’t know how to deal with this. I’ve never felt like this before."
Anxiety is high. You try yoga, meditation, more exercise, and endless “processing” conversations with friends. None of them seem to help. Off to the doc you go. Valium, Ativan, Xanax, or Klonopin to the rescue! You’d rather not take these drugs, but they seem to be the only antidote that works for your spiking anxiety.
Before you wash down those pills, consider a better alternative: daily journal entries. As I’ve worked with clients going through divorce over the years, I’ve seen that as little as 10 minutes every day (preferably first thing in the morning), keeps life balance and decreases anxiety - without the litany of anti-anxiety drugs.
Don’t be intimidated by the term “journaling.”It simply means dumping your thoughts out of your brain and unto the written page. (By the way, writing by hand seems to be slightly more effective than typing on a computer, but use whichever method works best for you.)
You don’t have to write much. With only one or two short paragraphs a day, you’ll be recording your fears as well as solutions for handling crises. You’ll be documenting patterns and coping mechanisms that worked for you (or didn’t work) over time. Then, days, months, weeks, or years later you can return to your notes and see that you’re stronger than you realized – and that you’ve faced similar situations and worked through them in the past. Your anxiety will start to drop. It’s soothing and comforting to be your own cheerleader and witness your own successful actions. You’ll find yourself saying, “I did this before. I can do it again!”
Here why journaling during the divorce process is vital to your recovery. With such a great return for such little effort, there’s no excuse for waiting. Start today.
Let’s face it. Divorce is hard, no matter how amicable or destructive yours might be. During the divorce process, it’s normal to vacillate through emotions – one day you’re high on your newfound freedom, the next day you’re low on your loneliness, and the next day you’re re-examining your life with your ex - trying to make sense of your break-up. You feel disconnected. Journaling can help reduce the divorce anxiety without drugs – or at the very least, help you take less drugs.
Learning to be your own best friend during divorce and strengthening your self-determination is critical to faster healing. Invest a few minutes a day journaling, and soon you’ll be able to read your old entries and say, “Oh, right! I remember how I did that." You’ll catapult yourself to a new place of strength.
Stop by any drug store or office supply and grab a lined notebook. Start journaling tomorrow morning. Over the next week, watch your anxiety decrease along with the valium doses. Stand ready for clearer thinking and new found self-determination.
Journaling is your new weapon for conquering divorce-induced anxiety!