Divorce is a physically and emotionally draining process for anyone. Most women get their lives back on track in a year or two, but things can be tough in the meantime. It’s a period when women with kids need to take extra care of themselves so that they can heal and so they can be there for their children, who are going through their own upheaval.
Of course, if you’re currently going through this process, you’re far from alone. In the United States, 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce. Still, you might benefit from a bit of guidance that can assist you in putting yourself first during this pivotal period. Here are nine ways to care for yourself after a divorce.
1. Rely on Your Support System
Talking about your feelings is crucial to getting over the dissolution of a marriage. Close friends, parents, siblings, counselors, or members of a support group can all be great sources of support and encouragement. Just steer clear of anyone who feels the need to heap scorn on your ex. You don’t need the negativity. It’s time to get past bitterness, rather than wallow in it. These days, the average engagement lasts 15 months — but when marriage doesn’t last, you have to start your life over again in a short time span. Real support can help.
2. Get Adequate Rest
Your mind and body are taxed to the limit by divorce, so you now need rest more than ever in order to recharge. A good night’s sleep assists in your physical and psychological healing processes. Sleep revives all of your organs and gives your brain a chance to connect what you’ve learned with what you’ve experienced that day. You might be sleeping too little or too much, so go to bed at the same time each night to promote regular slumber. You’ll have more energy for both yourself and your kids.
3. Remember You Don’t Owe Anyone an Explanation
People who hear about your divorce will often ask what happened. It’s important to realize that these people may not looking for ways to support you; they just want the intimate details. They might want to spread gossip. They might feel insecure in their own relationships and they want to see if their problems with their partners are as serious as yours. Regardless of the reason for their interest, you’re not obligated to explain. You can shut them down just by noting that marriage is complicated. You don’t need to justify yourself to anyone or take on an additional battle. You are well within your rights to set those boundaries.
4. Get Exercise and Eat Healthy
Workouts reduce stress and promote a positive mood through endorphins — the feel-good hormone. Proper nutrition will help your mind and body heal by supplying them with the nutrients they need to function well. You may find it difficult to drag yourself to the gym or the grocery store, but this is not the time to sit in front of the TV with a carton of ice cream. Go for walks with your kids and get them involved in cooking. They’ll benefit from the exercise and healthy eating, too.
5. Show Yourself Compassion
The period just after a divorce is often a time when women berate themselves for mistakes they may have made in the marriage or for not being able to bounce back sooner after the split. In our hectic culture, we have to teach ourselves self-compassion. Give yourself permission to grieve and accept whatever feelings arise. You’ll help yourself heal and you’ll be more present for your children as well. You don’t have to rush into anything or beat yourself up for not being at a certain point in your emotional development.
6. Use Your Inner Resources
A divorce means you lose not just a partner, but you may also lose a home, a way of life, and a plan for the future. Divorce also brings with it anxiety about money and co-parenting with your ex. When you feel afraid you won’t be able to handle your challenges, remind yourself that you have what you need to survive and thrive. You have the inner resources necessary for healing and moving on. Trust that you have or can seek out the tools you need to get through this transition.
7. Consider Counseling
Even if you’ve never tried therapy before, now is the perfect time to think about entering counseling. You might opt for individual counseling; talking to a warm, empathetic person who isn’t involved in your life can significantly reduce stress. You might also consider couples counseling, which isn’t only for partners trying to save their relationship. Couples counseling for recently divorced people can help you and your ex learn how to let go of grudges and be effective co-parents. There’s no shame in seeking out help after a traumatic incident or major life change. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and the other important relationships in your life.
8. Take Time for Yourself
Finding spare time to relax and engage in fun activities can be a real challenge while you’re dealing with the stress of a recent divorce, especially if you have kids. But it’s important to take the time to enjoy yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Although as many as 45% of homes purchased in Maui were bought by buyers from out of state in 2016, you might not have the financial resources to move and make a new start. But you can do plenty of simpler things to weather this tough time. Find out what brings you joy and what reinvigorates you. Then, carve out time in your schedule to prioritize it.
9. Keep Up With Your Daily Routine
Taking care of day-to-day tasks will help you feel normal as you continue to recover from the stress of divorce. Just doing the laundry or organizing a messy closet can help you feel like yourself. If you’re not currently employed, you can volunteer your time at a local charity, start a hobby, or even start planning for that home-based business you’ve been dreaming about. Sticking to a regular routine can keep your mind a lot busier and will keep you from dwelling on the past. Instead, you’ll be looking toward the future.
There’s no avoiding the fact that divorce is a painful, exhausting experience. But if you practice regular self-care, reduce stress, and promote your own healing, you’ll gain ground with each passing day. Get support from friends and family, make sure you’re eating and sleeping well, exercise regularly, grant yourself the compassion you need, put a stop to nosy questions, follow a daily routine, and believe in your own ability to recover. Your physical and psychological energy will be renewed, and you’ll soon start to enjoy life again.