There are so many ways that divorce can take a toll on your mental health. It’s a major life change – those can be scary and stressful even when the change is positive, which divorces aren’t often considered to be. The process of divorce can be complex, confusing, and painful. The prospect of being single again might make you feel lonely, sad, or even afraid. If you’re a parent, the idea of raising your children alone might be extremely daunting, and the prospect of co-parenting with your ex might be fraught with conflict. Your finances, living arrangements, and support system might all be undergoing big changes, just when you most want stability and people that you can count on surrounding you. And that’s not even taking into account the reason that the divorce is happening in the first place – depending on why your marriage ended, you might be feeling betrayed, guilty, abandoned, angry, disillusioned, or almost anything else – on top of dealing with the divorce itself and adapting to your new life as a divorced person. Is it any wonder that your mental health might suffer during such a stressful time?
But no matter how difficult divorce is, there is a bright side – you have a chance to make a fresh start and the rest of your life ahead of you. And you can make that life a good one. A great way to start is by making sure that you’re taking care of your mental health during and after the divorce. Take a look at some tips that can help you do just that.
Get Your People Around You
One of the major keys to getting through a deeply stressful time with your mental health intact is to have a support network of people who care about you around you. Everybody needs support from other people – you’re not being demanding or entitled when asking for it. Now is the time to gather people around you who will lend you their strength, their listening ears, their sympathy, their shoulder to cry on, or whatever other types of support you need during this time.
Unfortunately, in some cases, divorce can wreak havoc on your support network. For example, if you don’t have a family of your own and you’ve relied on your in-laws for family support for a long time, then you might find yourself at a loss for who to call now. Friends also often take sides in a divorce, and it can be surprising and hurtful when someone takes your former spouse’s side over yours. You may need to reach out to friends or potential friends that are in less obvious places – a friendly coworker, other members of your church or religious organization, a support group. Some people find it easier to make friends online, via social networks like Facebook. For others, getting a pet can be helpful, as pets can provide unconditional affection and comfort. Others benefit from professional therapy. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask someone for help or companionship when you need it.
Make Sure Your Physical Needs are Met
It’s even harder to get through a stressful time when you’re sick, exhausted, hungry, or physically weak. Taking care of your physical needs can be harder than you might expect when you’re going through a divorce. You might be too anxious or upset to sleep well, too busy to exercise, or too upset to eat. But going without nutritious food, physical activity, or healthy sleep will only make you feel worse, so it’s important to take steps to make sure that these needs are taken care of.
If you find that you’re not hungry and you’re having trouble forcing food down, look for foods that are easy to eat and will help you feel full with minimal effort – protein smoothies, soup, overnight oats, and so on. If you find yourself overeating or overindulging on comfort foods, try substituting healthier options where you can. Pick up frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. Make a carrot cake sweetened with apple juice instead of buying a sheet cake from the bakery. Order a vegetarian cheeseburger instead of a regular cheeseburger. This isn’t the time to force yourself onto a diet or castigate yourself for choosing comforting treats, just make an effort to ensure that you get the nutrients that you need.
Practice good sleep hygiene by turning off all the lights and electronic devices before you go to bed. If you have insomnia, take warm baths before bed and turn the air conditioner down a few degrees at night. Force yourself to get some kind of physical activity every day, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Not only is it good for you, but it will also help tire you out. In short, do what you can to take care of your body even when your mind and emotions are in turmoil. Eventually, you’ll feel better mentally and emotionally, and you won’t want to have to wait for your body to catch up.
Take a Time Out on Romance
Both men and women often view marriage, or at least a long-term relationship, as one of the most important life goals. But there are great things about being single too. You can make decisions without worrying about what your partner thinks or how it will affect them. You can make changes based solely on your own needs and preferences. You can sleep crossways or spread-eagle on the bed if that’s how you’re most comfortable!
Don’t worry about jumping back into the dating scene for a while. Take some time to explore what being single means for you and what you like about it. There will be plenty of time for romance later if that’s what you want but focus on yourself for some time first. You never know – you may discover that you like single life better, or you may learn that you want different things out of your next relationship than you wanted out of your last one. You and your future partner (if you choose to have one) will both be happier if you take the time to learn about the post-divorce you before jumping back into a relationship.
One thing that can definitely make getting through a divorce easier is not having huge legal bills to pay. A legal resource group like National Family Solutions can help you get through the legal process of divorce without going broke.