3 Steps to Recover From –and Stay Healthy During– a Divorce

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Saying divorce is difficult is like saying running a marathon without training is tricky. Let’s just say both are a major understatement.

A marital split is a major upheaval, no matter whether you are the dumped or the dumpee. You’re ending a major relationship from  which your forged your identity (or at least part of it); you may need to relocated; if you have kids, you worry about them;  and, of course, there’s the whole financial mess.  It would be amazing if you didn’t experience a period of emptiness, isolation and, possibly, depression. 

According to Gallup findings, divorced individuals score significantly lower than married individuals on several measures of well-being including physical and emotional health. Keeping yourself healthy during a divorce is especially challenging, particularly for women who wear so many hats that maintaining their well-being often falls to the bottom of the proverbial to-do list. Even when not in the throes of a divorce, women are more likely than men to experience depression, so it’s important to know how to deal with your emotions in a productive way. Here are three tips that will help you better navigate this uncharted territory so you stay healthy during this journey.

Watch how long you stay isolated

Going through a divorce can make you feel lonely, and you may even feel like you’re losing friendships since your partner’s friends may be taking their side. Focus on reaching out to your closest friends so you have a support group. They’ll let you vent, help you with your kids, and may even distract you from your problems. It’s also a good idea to talk to other women who have been through a divorce and re-created a good life. Or seek help and healing from a local support group like DivorceCare. This will give you hope—and, my goodness, hope is essential and healthy.

Your needs matter

When you’re in the midst of a divorce, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself. If you’re a mom, your kids need you be at your best so you can take care of them too. Make sure to eat healthy and get enough sleep. You don’t want to become sick or even more irritated. We all know that being tired and hungry always make a bad mood worse!

Hire a reliable and trustworthy babysitter and go do something that lifts your spirits and clears your mind. Take a walk, hit the gym, go for a mani or pedi—whatever it is that makes you feel like you again. You should also provide more structure in your life. Set up a daily plan, so your life doesn’t feel so overwhelming. And remember to pencil in some fun! We all feel better when we have something to look forward to.

Remember, the dust always settles

It’s important to allow yourself some time to feel badly, but you don’t want sadness to be your default emotion. If you’re a ‘Debbie Downer’ all of the time, your friends and co-workers may actually start to avoid you. Attempt to find humor in life. Sure, this may be hard but think of the best comediennes; they take some of life’s worst problems and put a funny spin on them. Keep in mind that things will get better with the passage of time. Once you get through the initial stages of the divorce you might actually find comfort in being free from your marriage.

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Barbara R. Greenberg, Ph.D. is currently a professional consultant on teen issues at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT. She also maintains a private practice in Fairfield County, CT. She served as a clinical administrator on an adolescent inpatient unit at a private psychiatric hospital for 21 years before dedicating herself to private outpatient practice and consultation work.

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