Flowers often cause people to smile, but did you know that they can actually help you feel better about your divorce? Discovered by Dr. Edward Bach in 1930, the Bach Flower Essences are 38 remedies extracted from flowers that are thought to correct emotional imbalances by flooding out negative feelings and emotions and replacing them with positive ones. Each essence is directed at a particular characteristic or emotional state. To know which one to take, you need to think about what kind of person you are and how you’re feeling at a particular moment.
Bettina Rasmussen, BFRP, a registered practitioner with the Dr. Bach Foundation, relied on the Bach Flower Essences to keep calm during her own divorce. She suggests using Mimulus to help you cope with fears about the future, or Holly to help reduce feelings of hatred, envy, and jealousy towards your ex. For a quick fix, consider “Rescue Remedy” — a ready-made combination of five of the Essences designed to address general upset, stress, and anxiety.
The best way to start is by consulting a professional or taking a course: although the Bach Flower Essences are considered safe, you’ll get no results if you take the wrong ones. Moreover, since the system is based on your particular emotions, a registered practitioner can custom-make the unique combination of Essences that will work for you. Still undecided? The Bach Flower Remedies have been administered to animals, infants, and even plants, with successful results.
Laugh it off
With all the stress and uncertainty this transitional time creates, laugher might be the furthest thing from your mind. Yet clinical research has shown a connection between wellness and laughter. “Mirthful laughter is therapeutic for the release of tension that it brings to the mind, body and spirit,” says Lynn Shaw, MSW, LCSW, and president of “Laughter for Life!”, an organization extolling the benefits of therapeutic laughter. These benefits may include a heightened sense of well-being, more clarity of thinking, a lower resting heart rate, and more energy to cope with everyday life. Shaw suggests simple exercises like smiling five times in five seconds. Or try stretching your arms overhead, looking upwards, dropping your jaw, and saying “ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.”
“Even if you don’t feel like laughing,” she explains, “the stretching is good for your muscles.” Steve Wilson, president and founder of the Laughter Club in Ohio, agrees. “The physical act of laughter is different from the psychological act of finding something humorous. If you’re not in the mood to see the funny side of life, you must still not give up the act of laughter.” So don’t wait until you feel happier to find your laugh — start laughing and you’ll become happier. Engaging in activities that will uplift rather then depress you should help to boost your mood. So go see a laugh-out-loud comedy, associate with upbeat people, and make sure to smile and laugh every day — whether you feel like it or not.
Looking for a reason to get up off the couch? Why not combine exercise and chores to lower your stress level, get in shape, and make your home a more pleasant place to be? Family Practice Notebook reports the following findings:
- Swimming at a moderate pace burns 150 kcals/hour — 30 calories less than doing housework (180 kcals/hour).
- Bicycling will take off 440 kcals/hour, whereas shoveling snow will burn 400.
- Gardening weighs in at 220 kcals/hour, close to canoeing at 230 kcals/hour.
- Mowing the lawn burns 220 kcals/hour — the same as fitness walking for two miles.
So if you’re too busy to even think of hitting the gym, look around you: there are always more ways to exercise than meets the eye.
Treat your hair
Is your divorce causing you to lose your hair? Research indicates that hair is one of the first parts of your body to show signs of stress. “Many doctors won’t tell you that stress directly affects the condition of your hair,” says Linda Richard, Education Team Leader for Redken in Quebec. “But if you ask hairdressers, they’ll tell you that they see changes in the hair’s quality whenever a stressed-out client sits on their chair.”Brenda DuVal, VP of Research and Development at Paul Mitchell, explains that this kind of hair damage needs to be treated from the inside out. “Maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle, with good nutrition, sufficient rest and relaxation, and especially a return to a more salubrious state of mind are important to restoring normal hair growth,” she says.
Divorcing individuals should be particularly careful because in addition to stress, they’re statistically at an age when metabolism starts to slow down. This change in metabolism strongly affects hair-follicle production. As a biological structure, hair is less important to the survival of humans than other organs of the body, which use up the available nutrients that might otherwise have nourished your hair. As a result of both age and stress, the hair becomes dry and brittle, loses shine and body, and may turn gray or fall out. The best way to deal with such hair damage is to combine a balanced lifestyle with a specially formulated product such as Paul Mitchell’s Botanical Body Building Treatment, or Kerastase’s Resistance Force line. You can also try Redken’s AllSoft line to add moisture to dry hair, Head Strong to add body, or Extreme to infuse brittle hair with protein and recreate shine.
In Sacred Wounds: Succeeding Because of Life’s Pain (Harper Collins, 2003), Jan Goldstein outlines a nine-step program to enable you to draw strength from pain and use traumatic experiences for personal growth.
“In response to the pain life throws our way,” says Goldstein, “many of us internalize misfortune and turn it back on ourselves in a self-punishing blitz. We can do better. We can find meaning. And we can use that meaning as fuel for personal triumph.”
Goldstein uses anecdotes, case studies, and inspirational quotes to help readers understand that it is necessary to integrate our wounds into the fabric of our lives, because we can never obliterate them. To become whole, he argues, we must recognize our wounds as part of who we are and as a valuable tool for self-realization and growth. These wounds can provide the light, the meaning, or the direction that will guide us to discover the best within us — and make us aware of our destructive side.
A key factor in accepting the wisdom of traumatic experiences is the way you’ll approach the new challenges that come your way. As Goldstein explains, reframing a challenging situation into a “silver cloud” diminishes its severity and reduces pain, fear, and panic. By simultaneously acknowledging an obstacle and believing that you can overcome it, you’ll be able to move past the paralyzing fear that comes with uttering the disempowering phrase: “I can’t handle this.”
Within the context of a divorce, where the pain is shared by many, Goldstein’s advice can be used not only to help yourself but also your family and friends. Recognize the wounds of your ex-spouse and your children, and respond to them with the compassion and understanding it has taken you to learn from yours.
For more information about this and other books by Jan Goldstein, visit www.amazon.com.