When you are going through a divorce, it can be very overwhelming. There are so many life changes happening so quickly. You may be moving, dealing with child custody issues, and facing changes in your finances as well.
This doesn’t even include the multiple emotions you are feeling. With everything happening all at once, it can be challenging to cope.
Each person will need to go through a divorce in their own way, but there are some common strategies that can be helpful during one of the most stressful times of your life. Seeking out information is an important first step to getting through tough times.
How to Cope with Divorce
1. Don’t be too hard on yourself for having complex emotions.
Dealing with a divorce is bound to cause complex emotions. One day you may be very angry, and another day you may be very sad. The next week, you may feel relieved — or even feel like you’re made of stone, unable to feel anything at all. Don’t judge yourself too harshly for feeling like you are on a roller coaster of emotions. It’s a very normal response to divorce.
If you are feeling bad for feeling bad, try to recognize what is happening. You have the right to your emotions and judging yourself for having them puts that much more pressure on your heart and your head that you don’t need.
2. Take steps to honor and uplift your health and well-being.
Our minds and bodies are intimately connected. When we are suffering emotionally, our bodies can suffer considerably as well. It is not uncommon for people going through a divorce to put health and well-being on the back burner, but if you honor your mind and body with actions that help relieve stress and care for your physical needs, dealing with everything else that is going on is often a little easier.
Simple steps can make a big difference. Remembering to keep healthy foods at the house will help reduce those sugar highs and lows when you just need some chocolate or another favorite goodie. Moderation with a fresh salad or a spicy stir fry vegetable dish provides much-needed, savory nourishment. Seeking out a nearby park or planning early evening walks with the kids is good for your body and can be a mind-clearing experience too.
One of the biggest health challenges during a divorce is getting a good night’s sleep. You can help facilitate that by putting down your phone or other electronics at least a half an hour before you go to bed. The blue light suppresses natural melatonin production—making it hard to fall asleep. Pick up a real book, take a warm, soothing bath, meditate, or have quiet time with an adult coloring book or journaling. Have you ever tried a weighted blanket? Many people find them calming. A good night’s sleep can do a world of good.
3. Consider counseling to help you process your emotions and develop new ways to cope.
People are not superheroes. Our emotions can overwhelm us and make it difficult to deal with daily activities, impact our work, and interfere with relationships with friends, family members, and even our children. Counseling is an excellent resource for many people going through a divorce.
From individual and parenting needs to children’s and group counseling, there are diverse therapists and therapy techniques that are available to help you process your emotions and develop new ways to cope with them. If you and your spouse are still in the middle of considering a divorce, couple’s counseling can guide you through this tough time. Children go through a lot of emotions as well when their parents are separated or getting a divorce. They may act out because they don’t know how to deal with their feelings. Counseling may be a good option for children too.
A popular technique used by counselors is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT typically includes various efforts in changing thinking patterns, and many studies have shown that people who used this technique had seen a significant increase in quality of life. Whether you try CBT or other methods, seeking out counseling is an act of strength, and shows real respect for yourself and your future.
4. Embrace structure and organization in your daily life.
In our most stressful moments, we can feel out of control of our lives. These feelings of chaos can be very unsettling and make us feel helpless at times and even cause further chaos through forgetting to pay bills, missing a crucial appointment, or feeling uncomfortable in a new home. But you have the power to do certain things that can help reduce the chaos by embracing structure and organization in your daily life.
Purchase a weekly calendar at an office supply store or be diligent about placing appointments directly on your phone (and check your calendar every morning). Take a little time in the evenings to write yourself a to-do list for the next day (and check things off when they are completed to give yourself a boost). Look around your home. Do you have mail in different places? Are your important papers somewhere safe where you can find them? Does it seem like you’re always looking too long for something you can’t find? Organization gives you control and can help prevent future stressors.
Craft stores or container stores have frequent sales where you can personalize your storage needs at a reasonable price. From legal papers and kids’ school supplies to beauty products and hobby-related items, a little organization can go a long way in reducing small daily challenges that can really add up.
5. Seek out new experiences.
Humans are creatures of habit. Lives change so much going through a divorce that you can feel lost and not sure what you’re supposed to do anymore. Seek out new experiences and create new routines. If you had special restaurants where you went out to eat with your spouse, look into new types of cuisines and atmospheres that you would enjoy with a friend. Set up weekly “watch parties” or “binge parties” for exciting new shows you can enjoy with others (or suggest this to your friends if you’re not ready for a group of people in your home). Decide to try a new wellness technique every month like aromatherapy, yoga, or acupuncture. What you like may surprise you.
New experiences can spark imaginations, be great distractions, and bring a moment of joy at a time you really need it. With a little creativity and willingness to branch out of your comfort zones a little bit, these new experiences can be a valuable addition to your coping strategies.
Each Step Counts
When dealing with a divorce, everyone’s needs are different. But it is important to know that each step you take to help cope with the complex emotions and situations counts. Even if one thing that you try isn’t a perfect fit, it’s a learning experience and another step closer to understanding your needs. The road to healing when you’re going through a divorce will have its stumbles and falls, but it will also have its peaceful times and bright moments.
It will be those times, and those moments, that will propel you to take the next step. And the next.