Divorce is one of the most stressful events that can take place in your life. It changes everything from your plans for the future to your sense of yourself as part of a couple. If you have children, it also changes the shape of your family. While you’re in the midst of it, and even after the final papers have been signed, you may find yourself bumping up against some hard pockets of emotions; feelings of loss and the grief that accompanies them, anger, sadness, and heartbreak. Remember that it’s important to take care of yourself during this time.
There are things you can do to help yourself through this stressful time. You can’t change what happened in your marriage, and you certainly can’t control how your ex behaves, but you can change how you take care of yourself, which is a better use of your precious energy anyway. You gave your marriage your all and tried to make it work. Now it’s time to redirect that energy to yourself. While it’s a painful time, it’s also an opportunity to reclaim parts of yourself you may have lost during your marriage and a time to nurture yourself.
When focusing on your self-care, the first step is to figure out what you need right now. That ends up being different for everyone. Find some time alone to get quiet, take some deep breaths, close your eyes, and tune into your inner voice. What’s it telling you?
Do you need more time alone, or more time with others? What parts of yourself have you put on the back burner? How can you make nurturing those aspects of yourself a priority again? Do you have any hobbies that you haven’t done for a while? What would bring you joy? You can’t focus on self-care until you know what will work for you.
Are you longing to return to familiar pursuits you felt you had to neglect during your marriage? Conversely, your instincts may lead you to try something entirely new. Especially if it’s an interest you know your ex would not have shared. You might want to take a cooking class in cuisine you’re curious about, learn a new skill or craft, or study a new language. You may choose this time of freedom to return to school, train for a new career, or do some professional development to further yourself in your current career.
You may need to do some care and feeding of your soul. The dissolution of a marriage can leave you with a whole host of complex emotions. You may be hurt, sad, feel adrift, and wonder who you are now that you’re not part of this unit that grew familiar, even though it no longer worked for you. There’s still a sense of loss and grief, no matter how ambivalent or even how negative you may feel toward your ex. You once loved them and still might. Their place in your life was significant.
Turning inward to heal those wounds isn’t the easiest choice, but it’s part of the healing process. If you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, it’s a wise decision to seek therapy. Having a skilled, impartial, and empathetic person to listen to you and help you process what you’re going through can be invaluable. Therapy is geared to assist those going through life stressors and changes, and divorce certainly fits the bill on both counts. Having someone in your corner to help you navigate through a divorce can go a long way in helping you cope.
As you navigate through your divorce, along with the more serious and difficult work you may undertake as part of your self-care, it’s also essential to find ways to have fun, blow off some steam and create pockets of joy wherever you can. Reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones by joining a club can be a welcome break from the legal, financial, and possible parenting issues you may be facing. Adopting a pet (if you don’t already have one) is a way to invite unconditional love into your life, and their cute, goofy antics can lift your spirits.
You can do some things to keep yourself on a more even keel during a time when everything is topsy-turvy. Eating healthy and moving as much as you’re able helps manage stress. Practicing good sleep hygiene also helps. Going to bed and waking up on a consistent schedule can lend steadiness to a time where other aspects of your life are shifting. Turning down the noise in your head with some deep breathing, meditation, prayer, or listening to calming music can help. Turning off your electronics and not looking at your phone before bed is also a good idea.
Keep it simple. Anything you can do to lighten your load during this time may make managing the divorce, and anything else you can’t avoid having to deal with, a bit easier. Don’t overcommit yourself. Learn how to say no without feeling guilty. That’s easier said than done and may take some practice. Clear out any other parts of your life that no longer serve your best interests. If you have any friendships or family ties that feel toxic, now may be the time to take a step back from them and maybe move on entirely.
This carries over into other aspects of your life. It could be time to downsize your housing, especially since you’re probably already dividing up your household and belongings. It may be time to clear out the clutter in more ways than one. You might want to get rid of things that remind you of your ex and your life together. You can even clear your mind of cluttered thoughts by keeping a journal. Even five minutes of writing a day can help. Write whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself, or write a few things you're grateful for each day.
Whatever you choose to do, focus on giving yourself the things you want. Self-care is more than spa days and lattes, though those are good too! Yours might look like a Netflix binge, a walk in the park, a long bath, an hour with your phone notifications off, a drive to clear your head, or a longer road trip to provide a change of pace. The important thing isn’t what you do, but that you do some nurturing things for yourself during this time of transition on the way to the brighter future that awaits you.
If you’re in the midst of a divorce, along with these ideas for self-care, it may be essential to talk to an attorney near you about your case. The knowledgeable and professional staff at Family Matters Law Group is here to help guide you through the process, including divorce, custody, and child support. Reach out for a consultation today. It may be the most important self-care you do when it comes to your current situation.