Divorces are stressful situations for everyone. Both partners deal with stress. Any children of the divorcing couple experience stress. Even friends and family members of the divorcing couple can experience some stress as they try to be there for their divorcing loved ones. Even when a divorce is relatively amicable, there will be stress involved, and for people who are going through an acrimonious, drawn-out divorce, that stress is further multiplied.
If you’re involved in a divorce situation, the question is: how you can deal with the stress? What can you do to lighten the load for yourself and help yourself get through the hardest times? Take a look at some helpful tips for handling the stress of a divorce.
Acknowledge and Affirm Your Feelings
A divorce can bring up all kinds of feelings. Others may expect you to feel a certain way – for example, your friends may expect you to feel sad. And you may feel sad. But you may also feel angry, confused, frustrated, exhausted, and even relieved. You might experience all of these feelings over the course of weeks or months that it takes to get through the separation and divorce. You might experience all of these feelings in a single day.
The important thing to remember is that whatever you’re feeling is not wrong. You’re allowed to feel any way that you happen to feel. You don’t have to feel any certain way because your friends expect you to or because of your own expectations. Just be honest with yourself about the way that you feel. Remind yourself that it’s OK to have those feelings. Then work on dealing with those feelings in a healthy way.
Don’t Push Yourself
It can be hard to give yourself a break when you’re going through a divorce. Apart from any feelings you may be having about the divorce itself, divorce can come with practical challenges that you need to meet. You may need to make more money or take on more of the childcare yourself, for example.
However, it’s important to realize that you may simply not be able to function at the level you would like to function at right away. You’re experiencing trauma, and you have to be able to give yourself time to heal and rest. It’s OK to take a day off work. It’s OK to order pizza for dinner if you’re too exhausted to cook. It’s OK to ask a neighbor or family member to watch the kids for a few hours so that you can have some alone time. This may not be the best time to pursue a promotion or run for president of the PTA. To whatever extent you’re able to do so, take it easy on yourself and look for places where you can cut yourself some slack.
Avoid Getting into Arguments with Your Ex
Some divorcing couples can simply go their separate ways, communicating only through lawyers and court papers until the divorce is final, and then not communicating at all. However, most divorcing couples do have to communicate, especially if they share children or have joint assets. In the case of couples with children, you may not even be able to take a break from communicating with each other.
However, it’s important to find ways to communicate that don’t turn into a fight. You don’t need the stress of an argument every time you need to have a conversation. Some couples find that the best way to communicate during and after a divorce is via text message or email – this gives you both time to formulate a calm reply to the previous method, so it’s less likely to turn into a shouting match. (Text messages and emails can also be preserved for use in court, so you both have the incentive to be on your best behavior.) If you do find yourself embroiled in a heated exchange in person or via phone, your best bet is to simply stop, suggest you try again later, and walk away or hang up the phone.
Talk to Someone Supportive
Divorce can leave you feeling very isolated. You or your spouse moves out of the house. Mutual friends take sides. Family members can have strong opinions on what you should or shouldn’t be doing during this time. The result can leave you feeling as if you have to struggle through the divorce all alone.
However, you don’t have to deal with your feelings all alone, and you really shouldn’t. Contact friends or family members who are inclined to be supportive, and tell them that you need someone to talk to. Look into therapy or counseling – there’s nothing wrong with working through your grief and other feelings about the divorce in a professional setting. Look for support groups in your city or, if none are available locally, look online. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support wherever you happen to find it. You deserve a sympathetic ear and some moral support.
Find a Distraction
Divorce is a process, so, unfortunately, you can’t get it all over with in one day and never think about it again. But that doesn’t mean that you have to think about it all of the time, either. If you find yourself dwelling on the divorce situation, that may mean that you need a distraction – preferably something fun – that will let you get your mind off of it for a while.
This is the time to do something that you’ve always wanted to do. Take a dance class. Take up gourmet cooking. Join a local sports team. Get involved in local politics. Work your way through that list of books you’ve been meaning to read or podcasts you’ve been meaning to listen to. Find something that’s accessible to you that makes you happy and do that. There’s no reason why you have to think about the divorce constantly and taking a mental time out to do something you enjoy can help you heal.
Getting the help you need with filing for divorce and preparing for child custody hearings or other court appearances can also help reduce your stress. National Family Solutions can help you handle the legal aspects of your divorce so that you can work on healing and moving on with your life.