You’ve gone through divorce and it’s natural that you are feeling sad, disappointed, betrayed, or even hopeless. These are the times when everything you hoped for and believed in become lost. You don’t know what to do or what the future will bring. This is a difficult state of limbo that brings out many of our insecurities.
What matters now is that you start taking care of yourself. That may not be what you want to do, but it’s an essential step for your recovery after divorce. The following are basic steps that will help you get going when the going gets tough.
9 Basic Steps to Take While on the Road to Recovery After Divorce
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for the healthy functioning of both your brain and body in general. All your organs get replenished during sleep, and your brain integrates experiences and learning. During these difficult times, you may have trouble sleeping or you may be inclined to sleep too long during the day. But, in either case, it’s essential to maintain sleep hygiene. In other words, continue going to sleep at the same time you always have and continue maintaining the same conditions in the room where you sleep. Proper sleep will help you heal faster, both emotionally and physically.
2. Get Moving
You can’t stay in the same space if you get moving. No pun intended. What I’m trying to say here is, start exercising. You can’t stay in a gloomy mood if you start exercising. Even if you start doing something physical for five to 10 minutes, it’ll make a difference. I know it’s hard to start something that you really don’t feel like doing. When you are depressed, you really don’t feel like exercising. But this doesn’t need to be a super vigorous workout. Just do something.
Bonus tip: do it outdoors, in the sun, if your health allows. Research shows that spending time outdoors and in the sun has very positive effects on our mood and health in general. Of course, you need to consult your physician if you are not sure if exercising is right for you.
3. Get Going with Routine Daily Activities
Maintaining a regular routine is essential for your recovery. It’s understandable that you may need to take some time off and recover if you feel the need, but continuing to take care of your duties can help you feel normalcy again as time goes by. Having too much time on your hands and not doing anything can lead to deeper depression and the potential for substance abuse or other unhealthy behaviors. Even if you are not working, you can engage in volunteering, hobbies, start your own business, etc.
4. Schedule Time to Wallow in Your Sorrows
This sounds ridiculous, right? Of course, it does. A licensed therapist tells you to indulge in your depressive moods. Well, it’s an effective intervention to help people feel in control of their symptoms. So, go ahead and schedule that time with yourself to just feel sad and sorry. Dwell until you feel bored. Don’t go more than 15 to 20 minutes.
This is very helpful when you feel teary during work for instance. In that moment, you can tell yourself that you have scheduled some time to “dwell.” Thus, you give yourself a chance to honor your grief while continuing with your daily activities, and you feel in charge of your emotions.
5. Schedule Time to Reflect on All the Great Things About Being Single
Every situation in life has the duality of positive vs. negative, grief vs. happiness, loss vs. gain. Being married had its advantages, but you also need to sacrifice for it. Similarly, being single can be seen as advantageous in so many ways. Now is the time when you can do all those things that you didn’t do because you wanted to maintain status quo in your relationship. It’s even possible that you neglected your health, appearance, or values in order to make the relationship work. Now is the time when you can focus on yourself and enjoy the life you couldn’t during your marriage. How about starting by going to a restaurant you didn’t go to because he didn’t like that kind of food. Or, going to museums or exhibits that he was never into? What else can you think of?
6. Reach Out to Your Old Friends
Yes, those ones who you somewhat neglected while you were lost in your relationship. We’ve all been there. We get married, life takes over, and friendships go on the back burner. Still, reach out to your good friends. If they were true friends, they will be there for you and they will understand your preoccupation with family and other obligations. Your friends will be there to bring you ice cream and warm socks if want to just stay in, or they may even drag you out against your will, and it’s going to be good for you.
7. Maintain a Healthy Diet
It’s natural that you will be tempted to reach out for comfort food, but if you give into it for too long, it can lead to negative health consequences. It’s also been shown that processed foods usually affect mood negatively. In order to avoid this, you can surround yourself with healthy options, such as fruits and vegetables. If you have enough fruit around, you can eat it instead of sugary treats. This will help you curb down cravings. It also provides you with the needed nutrients to help you heal and recover faster.
8. Sign Up for Something New
Riding class? Oh, my God! How amazing it is. In spite of the fear of falling, being able to maneuver a beautiful huge animal is so empowering. Even more than that, the connection of being with horses is very healing. They are able to fill you with love and joy.
Not a horse person? No worries. There are so many activities out there, and there are probably things you wanted to do, but never had a chance. This is your chance. Sign up for knitting or a sewing class. Go rock climbing or skydiving. Try meet-up groups. You can find meet-up groups for just about any activity under the sun.
Doing something new rewires your brain. You create new neural pathways, and this is very healing. An added bonus is that you can meet new people while doing these activities. You are starting a new life, and this will help you create new experiences.
9. Be Compassionate Towards Yourself
You are probably not used to it, but now is the time to start. Nurture self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to get over your ex quickly. Allow yourself to be in this limbo space and honor your tempo of the grieving process. It’s OK to acknowledge where you are and accept the fact that you are feeling sad, disappointed, betrayed, or hopeless. Only when you are mindful of where you are now can you move on to be where you want to be.