Divorce During a Pandemic: Emotional and Social Ramifications

When divorce is made worse by a frightening global pandemic, you must take decisive action to mitigate your stress and emotional fatigue.

Divorce During a Pandemic:wearing facial mask & gloves while typing

The whirlwind of bad news breaking every day during the coronavirus pandemic can be extremely worrying. Whether or not you’re in a group at higher risk, the stress from endless news coverage and a completely disrupted daily life can eat away at your calm.

Divorce is a serious stress trigger, whether you initiate the divorce or it’s thrust upon you. What if those two events coincide? What will divorce during a pandemic mean to your mental health, your support system, and your emotional and social resources?

The Emotional and Social Ramifications of a Divorce During a Pandemic

Coronavirus Stress & Stress Shock Waves

Given the current situation and overall coronavirus stress, you’re already in a state of shock that’s getting compounded daily thanks to breaking news and a rising death toll that’s broadcast not just daily, but hourly. If you’re not mindful of this pressure and acting to remedy it, you may be putting yourself at greater risk.

Psychology Today article discussed a way of measuring stress, the Holmes-Rahe Scale, “designed to measure how likely it is that you will become ill.” This critical metric assigns stress scores to events along a divorce timeline and allows users to tally their experience along with their likelihood of illness:

  • Below 300 – moderate chance of sickness
  • Between 301 and 600 – high likelihood of illness
  • 601 – 999 – extremely high risk of illness
  • 1000 or more – get to your doctor now  
  • Your spouse announces s/he is unhappy in the marriage – 80
  • Your spouse announces s/he is ending the marriage with no notice – 280
  • You find out that your spouse is having an affair – 285
  • Your spouse is having an affair with someone close to you – 290
  • You come home from a trip away and your spouse has moved out with no notice that anything was wrong – 300

Stress can be insidious, affecting both mental and physical health. Practices like yoga and meditation—and exercise if you can—will help mitigate the dangerous side effects of divorce and coronavirus stress.

Finding Social Support

One of the most challenging obstacles during the coronavirus pandemic is the social isolation we are all feeling. We are likely to work from home or in small groups. Our social lives have been curtailed, and that’s without even considering the fear and anxiety we may be feeling for our family and loved ones. If you divorce at this time, it will likely be much more challenging to find distraction and support. You won’t be debriefing with friends at a bar or café. You can’t even join a group exercise class to clear your mind. But you are not alone.

Online support groups, social events, and even exercise classes are springing up daily online. Psychologists are transforming their practices into virtual sessions. Even support groups can be virtual via Skype or asynchronous on message boards.

Everyone needs emotional and social support during divorce. It’s one of the most stressful of life’s challenges. When divorce is made worse by a frightening global pandemic, you must take decisive action to mitigate your stress and emotional fatigue.

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