Navigating through how to heal your mental health after divorce is a process that can take years. During that time, your habits and decisions may change. After all, marriage and trauma have changed you; you aren’t the same person you were when you were married.
Even though you can and will heal, you won’t go back to being the same person you were before you got married. No two people who must heal after a divorce do so in the same way, and there is no single path to success.
For some, the healing process began long before the divorce paperwork was filed. You may have accepted your situation and explored how you were tired of making the commitment to someone who just couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Alternatively, you may have been on the receiving end of those papers, and it may still feel like quite a shock. You’ll go through some stages of grief for your failed relationship, but there are tactics you can use to help you cope.
Here are some tips on how to heal your mental health after divorce.
Get a New Routine
The easiest thing you can do for your mental health following a divorce is to create a routine focused on you. Think about your priorities in life. You may need to care for children or pets, but you no longer need to put your partner’s needs before yours. Instead, you can have a schedule that works better for your life.
If you find that this creates extra time, consider scheduling something that will benefit you, depending on your interests and needs. Here are some suggestions:
- A trip to the library
- Spend time in the park
- Go for a walk
- Get a massage at a spa
- Pursue an interest you’ve always wanted to know more about
- Resume a hobby you had to give up while married
- Redecorate your home (or decorating your new one)
- Spend time with friends
- Get a pet
- Play games
Even if you do some of these activities once per week, you’ll find that your new schedule is more about your needs. This gets you into the positive habit of prioritizing yourself and creating new memories that don’t involve a past relationship.
Assess Your Work-Life Balance
What was your life like when you were married, and how will that change? You’ll have more time, but perhaps you’ll feel lonely. As a result, you may want to distract yourself from those feelings by focusing more intently on your career. However, be wary about picking up extra shifts at work to fill in those hours.
Over 70% of workers reported regularly experiencing stress-related psychological symptoms at work. While some of this can come from work itself, the stress of a divorce can have devastating effects on your health and on your work. These effects can be exacerbated by taking excessive overtime.
Have you ever brought personal stress to work or vice versa? Perhaps this was a contribution to your divorce. Either way, 54% of workers cited stress as causing a fight with someone close to them. And you may not be in an emotional state to be at your most productive if you are struggling with thoughts about your divorce.
As a result, you may wish to reassess what life at home feels like and how it now affects your life at work. Once a divorce is finalized, you’ll have a less stressful future to look forward to, which might mean a new work schedule, friendships with coworkers, the pursuit of a promotion, or even a career change.
Seek Mental Health Help
If left untreated, mental health problems can really mess with your life. Many seeking divorce have to deal with difficult issues about finances, child support and alimony, custody, and going from a two-income household to a single-worker household.
For some, divorce or spousal abandonment can result in foreclosure and eviction. Though it’s not often discussed, 10% of homelessness issues are caused by a change in family situation (such as a divorce), and another 10% occurs due to disability or mental health issues (which can also result from chronic stress related to divorce). In the United States, there are over 144,000 homeless individuals struggling with mental illness.
Social workers are your gateway to mental health professionals if you experience a change in your financial situation or don’t have insurance. Seek their help as soon as you start having issues, or go through your insurance provider if you have one.
Monitor Your Substance Use
When you go through a divorce, habits change. One glass of wine can regularly become four, and a pint of ice cream easily becomes a nightly habit. If you find yourself making these types of choices, consider a journal to keep yourself on track and alert your mental health provider.
You may also wish to explore alternative options such as meditation, yoga, and even CBD oil, which can help the one in five Americans experiencing mental health issues. While each of these approaches are proven to reduce stress, they’re no substitute for counseling (and, in some cases, prescribed medication).
Additionally, stable support from friends and family members is always an excellent way to improve your mental health after divorce. If you’re really hurting, ask a friend to check in on you once per week. If they have the ability to do it, they’ll put the effort in to reach out. All you have to do is respond.
Your check-in can be light and brief, or you could schedule an in-depth conversation over coffee. As your friends and family will learn, your needs may change over time. By monitoring your habits, sticking to a new schedule and seeking mental health counseling, you’ll find a great deal of mental health support in your post-divorce life.