If you are going through a divorce, whether you are the one who initiated it or not, the process can be stressful, sometimes leading to anxiety and depression. After all, there may be conflicts, difficult decisions to make, legalities to deal with, and even a sense of grief as your life starts to change.
Meanwhile, you may need to quickly build a new life, which will become even more crucial if children are involved.
5 Tips to Help You Deal With Anxiety and Depression after Divorce.
1. Remember You Are Not Alone
Although more individuals choose not to marry today than ever before, marriage does remain a common institution. In Western cultures, of which the United States is included, over 90 percent of people will marry by the time they reach age 50. That is a lot and it provides plenty of room for a statistically high number of those marriages to end in divorce. In fact, approximately 40 to 50 percent of marriages do end in divorce.
All this to say that if you are divorcing, you are not alone in doing so. This is not to diminish the weight that decision and process will hold for you. However, for many people, the knowledge that there are many others struggling with the same types of problems can be normalizing. This also provides an opportunity for coping.
Therapy and support groups have been found to be effective for a multitude of concerns, including divorce. The reason that people enjoy and benefit from this setting is that they gain a sense of empathy and validation, along with normalization. It is easy to imagine that talking to a group of people, who can fully relate, would be helpful.
2. Remind Yourself That This is Temporary
When going through a difficult time, your sense of time can become distorted. It may feel as though the situation and your feelings about it will last indefinitely. This thought alone can make you feel anxious and depressed. During these moments, it is important to remind yourself that the process of divorce will be a temporary one.
Moreover, once the process of divorce is over, you will be able to find a new normal. It may take time, but it also does not have to be all bad. Not only can you remind yourself that this is temporary and it will get better, but you can also reframe the situation to see it as an opportunity for new opportunities and personal growth.
3. Engage in Self-Care Strategies
The best way to deal with anxiety and depression in the wake of a divorce is to prevent it. To do that, you need to practice self-care. If you have not heard of this, you may be wondering what self-care is. Well, just as you might provide care to your children and others in your life, you also need to take care of yourself both physically and mentally.
Physical self-care is generally straightforward enough. It includes things like eating, sleeping, bathing, and taking your medications. Those basics may occur quite naturally for most adults, but in the process of a divorce it could be difficult to attend to any of those tasks. You may have to be intentional about making sure those needs are met.
Mental and emotional self-care may include things you would be less likely to think about. However, they become crucial during difficult times such as divorce. Mental and emotional care can include any action that attends to your mental and emotional needs. It could also include talking to people or simply taking time for yourself by being alone.
Sometimes self-care does also require support from other people. Just as you might take a child to a doctor, for medical care, you may also need to take yourself to the appropriate resources for the proper care of your physical and mental wellness. For example, when managing with the stressors of a divorce, you may find yourself dealing with muscle tension and struggling to relax. In this case, visit a chiropractor.
Similarly, self-care sometimes involves treating yourself. This does not mean you need to indulge every want you may have. Instead, you can use some strategy by engaging in luxuries that help to take care of your mind and body. For example, treating yourself to a chiropractic massage can help to relieve physical tension and refresh you.
Finally, self-care can also involve setting boundaries with others, sometimes to protect yourself. As you go through the process of divorce, you may not always have the time and energy to be as available to others as you usually would be. It is okay to set boundaries by telling people that you need more time for yourself.
4. Be Intentional About Stress Management
Beyond just taking care of yourself, you also may need to be intentional about taking steps for stress management. This is something you should do regularly, ideally every day, so that you keep stress at a manageable level. This is better than letting stress rise to a boiling point and then trying to deal with it.
Stress management strategies do not have to be overly elaborate. You can help yourself manage stress by just taking quiet time every day to take some calming breaths. You can look online for relaxation scripts that can guide you in visualizations that will be calming. Many people also find benefit in activities such as yoga. Just having these times for yourself, away from the stress, will help with stress management.
Some self-care approaches can also be used for stress management. For example, if you notice your stress rising and you tend to hold that stress in your muscles, then scheduling a therapeutic massage may be a good choice. Research shows the benefits of massage and that when you can relax your body, your mind will usually follow.
5. Be Proactive About Dealing with Depression
When depression creeps up on you, the first thing to do is to remind yourself that this is fairly normal. Whether you wanted the divorce or not, your life is changing so you may feel some sadness and grief about it. On the one hand, you will want to allow your reactions because they are normal and it is not helpful to just suppress your feelings.
On the other hand, you do not want to let depression pull you down too much because it could become difficult to function and attend to your typical daily activities. To deal with depression, the most recommended approach is to just get active. This seems to be the exact opposite of what depression itself demands. The feeling of depression is often associated with low motivation and low energy. However, by getting active, not only do you fight against that, you also shift the energy within your body, to amp up your energy.
Closing Thoughts on Anxiety and Depression After Divorce
Divorce is a difficult process. There is no denying that. It becomes more challenging when there is contention or children are involved. It is important for both parties to take care of themselves so they can successfully manage the process. This becomes even more important if both parties still need to get along and learn how to co-parent any children they share. The five steps above can help. If these strategies are not enough, consider working with a counselor, therapist, or other mental health provider.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic in Anchorage. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nevada and his doctorate from the Western States Chiropractic College.