In the past, you may have have made traditional New Year’s resolutions like losing weight or getting more organized. If you’ve just gone through separation or divorce, the start of a new year is a great time to make some divorce-related resolutions to help you focus on what you need to move forward and create the life and relationships you really want. Here are three resolutions for the suddenly single to help you do just that.
1. “I Will Make Self-Care a Priority.”
If you are just emerging from divorce – or newly separated – and are facing the stressors associated with juggling work and family, remember the safety instructions the flight attendant makes before the airplane can take off: “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” You can’t take care of other people – including your children, if any – if you don’t take care of yourself first. It’s not selfish: it’s a critical step to avoid burnout.
What is self-care? Self-care is about promoting your physical, emotional and social well-being. Physical self-care is about getting enough sleep and exercise and eating well to stay healthy. Nothing works when you’re sleep deprived, feel low-energy, or are hungry.
Emotional self-care is recognizing and coping with your feelings constructively. When you emerge from a divorce, you may experience strong emotions such as pain, sadness, anger, and fear. Finding healthy outlets for these feelings is critical. For some people, journaling or exercising are ideal outlets. For others, professional support, such as therapy or a divorce recovery group is needed. If you notice you are using unhealthy coping strategies, such as alcohol or drugs, to get through this period, make sure you get the help you need.
Social self-care is about staying connected with other people. After a divorce, it’s particularly important to connect with people who are truly supportive and non-judgmental. If you are trying to create a new life, it is not helpful to have friends or family who berate your ex-spouse or question your choices. Remember to get together in person, not just virtually, to feel connected with your support system.
2. “I Will Make Time for Self-Reflection”
Take some time to consider what you want your life to look like moving forward. Romantic relationships are certainly one aspect, but don’t ignore personal, family, professional goals and dreams that you have for yourself. It can be appealing to try to get a new partner who fills the holes in your life, but this strategy tends to backfire over time. Take the time to know and develop different aspects of yourself. It will help you stay more centered and solid when you do decide to date again.
3. “I Will Take Time to Learn What I Really Want and Need Before Starting to Date”
There is no perfect timetable for when you should start dating again after the end of a marriage. Give yourself enough time to mourn the loss of the marriage and to understand why it ended – including the part you played. This will allow you to start new dating relationships with a better understanding of both what you want that is different from previous relationships as well as what you might need to do differently to have the relationships you really want. When we don’t have awareness about our interpersonal patterns, we often fall back into doing the same old things and having the same old arguments – just with different people.
Consider Therapy to Help you Keep These Three Resolutions for the Suddenly Single
Therapy can be a very helpful process for all three of these resolutions. If you have difficulty prioritizing your needs – or even knowing what you need – therapy can be a safe place to explore the kind of life and relationships you want moving forward. Therapy can also help you learn new ways of being in a relationship if you have an interpersonal pattern that is holding you back from the types of relationships you want.
Too often, resolutions are viewed through the lens of correcting perceived flaws; my hope is that these resolutions can assist you in taking care of yourself and creating the life you want moving forward. What better gift could you give yourself in the new year?