No matter how amicable it might be, divorce is one of life’s most difficult transitions. You’re starting over. You’re building a different, unexpected life. This is why it is extremely important to take care of your physical and mental health during divorce.
You likely have thousands of thoughts running through your mind and millions of items on your to-do list as you set about constructing your new world. And if you have children, this can be even harder.
As tempting as it might be to put your health on the back-burner while you get your house in order, resist this impulse. Managing your health will perhaps never be more important than right now as you navigate these unfamiliar waters.
How to Manage Your Health During Divorce
Body, Mind, and Spirit
Even when you know that your divorce is the best thing for you and your family, there’s no denying the fact that it takes a toll. Divorce is a trauma, and that inevitably brings stress and anxiety.
You might find yourself losing sleep or, conversely, sleeping too much. You might find that it’s difficult to eat, or on the other hand, you might be indulging in ice cream and other comfort foods on a nightly basis. You might be drinking or spending to excess for the sake of distraction and some momentary pleasure.
You might find yourself angry, sad, and overwhelmed. It’s little wonder that the physical and emotional stress of divorce, typically combined with a sudden change in lifestyle, can put you at risk of significant health problems. Studies show, for example, that people who are divorced are 20% more likely to experience severe or life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
Talk It Out
The physical health risks of divorce may be significant, but the mental health impacts are perhaps even more so. Unfortunately, persistent stigmatization can make people reluctant to get help, even when they need it most.
Even in the best-case scenarios, divorce is still a loss. And sometimes you need some help as you go through what is, in a very real sense, a grieving process.
Seeking support from a trained counselor can help you get an objective perspective on your new circumstances. You’ll have an empathetic ear and an impartial audience who won’t take sides and won’t judge. And if the grief tips over into clinical depression, an anxiety disorder, or some other mental health challenge, your counselor will know how to recognize the signs and will be able to help you chart your path.
Going through a divorce inevitably means facing a change in your financial circumstances. If you received your medical or dental insurance through your former spouse’s plan, you’re probably going to be faced either with finding an insurance plan or paying for your care out of pocket.
So one of the first and most important steps you need to take is to determine how the divorce will affect your health insurance coverage and make a plan for what happens next.
If you are on the verge of losing your dental coverage, for example, you might turn to teledentistry for a lower-cost consultation. With today’s telehealth technologies, your dentist may be able to evaluate your oral health with the simple click of your smartphone’s or laptop’s camera.
And if your remote exam reveals that you need more extensive, in-person dental care, then this could be something that could be taken care of before your existing coverage lapses. In the end, being proactive with oral health issues can spare you costly and dangerous complications, including sepsis and myocarditis related to abscessed teeth and other oral infections.
To be sure, when you’re going through a divorce and you’re trying to manage what might be a sharp decrease in income, you might be reluctant to add medical bills to everything else. However, medical debt doesn’t have to be a permanent stone around your neck.
It is possible, for example, to negotiate reasonable, low, or even no-interest, repayment plans. You may even qualify to have some, or even all, of your debt forgiven. The most important thing, though, is to remember that there are options. But what isn’t an option is letting the fear of medical bills keep you from getting the care you need and deserve.
Divorce is difficult in the best of circumstances. But no matter how well you may be coping, attending to your physical and mental health during divorce is of paramount importance. You don’t have to break the bank, though, to ensure you’re getting the care you need. The important thing is to plan. Consider how your healthcare coverage may be impacted and reach out to your healthcare providers to negotiate repayment or forgiveness. Above all, take care to nurture your whole self, focusing on your medical, dental, and mental health alike.