It's no secret that going through a divorce can wreak havoc on your emotional well-being. In fact, the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, an assessment that evaluates the most stressful events in life, ranks divorce as the second most stressful event after the death of a spouse.
If you're going through this rocky transition right now, it's important to prioritize your mental health. Doing so can help you feel more empowered and supported during this vulnerable time. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind.
Accept Your Intense Emotions
You likely invested a lot of time and energy into your marriage- knowing that this dynamic is coming to an end can be unnerving. Therefore, it's typical to alternate between feeling exhausted, sad, scared, angry, guilty, hopeless, and even relieved when going through a divorce.
Try to be compassionate to yourself by accepting these emotions. Denying, minimizing, or intellectualizing them won't make them disappear. If anything, it tends to make them feel larger than life.
If you find it hard to "sit with emotions," consider journaling or meditating. These actions can help you become more mindful and attuned to how you feel. They are also easy enough to do almost anywhere.
Rely on Your Support
Divorce can undoubtedly feel lonely. This loneliness can be exacerbated if you two shared many mutual friends and you feel worried about some people siding with your ex-partner.
Seeking and leaning on your support system is crucial right now. Don't hesitate to ask others for help. In addition, it can be beneficial to consider joining a support group or seeking individual therapy.
While you might feel tempted to isolate yourself, doing so can have serious consequences on your mental health. When intense feelings fester- and you don't know how to release them- you may feel more susceptible to self-sabotaging behavior.
Avoid Badmouthing or Engaging in Power Struggles
It's easy to fall into the rabbit hole of criticizing your ex for every last thing they did. It can also feel easy to pick fights, obsess over what they're doing right now, or try to seek revenge over how they hurt you.
That said, these actions don't promote any real sense of healing. Instead, they tend to keep you stuck, and they also perpetuate even more anger and sadness.
Instead, try to be the bigger person (as challenging as it may seem). Acknowledge that people change, and that you two have moved in different directions. If your ex tries to attack or provoke you, aim to remain neutral. It will be hard, but committing to a more stoic approach will help you heal.
Stick to a Routine
Research continues to emphasize the numerous benefits of implementing consistent habits and sticking to a routine. Moreover, routines are even more important when life feels chaotic. They can anchor you to feeling safe as you navigate a new, unpredictable world.
With that in mind, try to think about establishing a routine that works for you. It doesn't need to be complicated to be effective. A good routine can simply consist of waking up consistently each morning, going to the gym each day, and calling a good friend a few times a week.
Practice Gratitude and Try to Think Positively
This advice, at first, may seem paradoxical or even insulting. After all, you may very well be in immense pain right now. Concepts of gratitude or positivity might seem laughable.
But practicing these mindsets when life feels challenging tends to make them even more effective. It's easy to feel grateful when things are going well. But when you can hold onto hope when things feel bleak, you build your resilience and learn how to rely on yourself to keep moving forward.
Try to reflect on what you learned and how you grew from your marriage. Even if things didn't work out the way you wanted, you are a different person than you once were. Those changes may be pivotal in helping shape your future.
And remember, everything is fleeting. Your emotions will change, and the intensity of them will dissipate with time. Eventually, the pain won't have such a strong, captivating hold over you.
Going through a divorce is a life-changing experience. There's no easy way to sugarcoat or simplify that fact.
But you can come out stronger on the other side, and you will learn a lot about yourself through this important process. No matter how you feel, try to stay positive and remember that you can recover and heal from the pain you feel right now.
At the Mental Health House, we recognize that you may need additional support and guidance right now. We understand the difficulties associated with breakups and divorce. Ultimately, we are here to help you navigate this challenging transition. Contact us today to learn more!