Studies published by the Citizens Advice Bureau show concerning statistics: the divorce rate in the US increased by 122% in 2020, compared to previous years. In other words, the recent pandemic and the financial, health, and schooling issues that followed, negatively affect our relationships.
Typical consequences of a divorce are depression and anxiety, but studies show that divorcees are at greater risk of physical health issues as well.
So, if you are going through a tough separation from your former partner, you are not alone. Here is what you can do to make the situation easier for you and your kids.
You can’t and shouldn’t run from emotions
Emotions are very strange in nature. They have their own logic and don’t respond to our will and explanation. The problem is, we often don’t like their logic.
Try to think about emotions as the energy that naturally comes up in the body and only wants to find its way out. In other words, you can’t run away from emotion, regardless of how unpleasant it is. The only way to get rid of an emotion is to process it, that is, feel it and let it find its way out.
As you can assume, processing takes time and energy. Therefore, you absolutely need your mind clear and your body ready for the hard job of processing negative emotions. For that reason, you need to quit drinking, avoid scrolling on social media, and avoid substance abuse.
Men are particularly at risk of substance abuse since society doesn’t support men crying and expressing their emotions. As hard as it is, you have to spend time with your anger, sadness, and regret. And remember, as soon as they are felt in full, these emotions will leave your body.
Take care of your body
Divorce takes a lot of mental as well as physical energy. There are so many changes happening, you might be moving, changing your diet, and feeling excessive amounts of stress. As expected, this can negatively affect your overall health.
In order to prevent cardiovascular, digestive, and immune system issues, you need to maintain a regular diet and allow yourself to take a break. In addition, regular exercise and perhaps diet supplements and multivitamins will help your body go through this without consequences.
Sometimes, during a divorce, you might feel so overwhelmed by sadness, guilt, and anger that you don’t want to leave your room. Actually, the excessive amount of stress might lead to insomnia or digestion problems. However, you should make an effort to keep the contact with those who love you.
You will find that allowing close people to witness your sorrow and putting your emotions into words in their company feels therapeutic.
Explore new routines
Regardless of how painful it is, divorce is a change. And we all know that every change is also an opportunity.
Therefore, with time, you will see that alone time has some advantages as well. You can now do all those things you couldn’t do before. Perhaps you always wanted to learn to play the guitar, but you never could find the time. Or, you can engage in drawing mandalas to practise mindfulness. Or, you can finally be at the top of your lungs under the shower. Whatever feels good.
Try not to blame yourself or others
It is highly recommendable to make a difference between guilt and responsibility. In most cases, perhaps to a different extent, but both sides will be responsible for the final result. Taking the responsibility for your own actions would be a great place to start. Asking the other side to do the same is perfectly reasonable as well.
But feeling overly guilty and casting blame will help no one, and will not make the divorce easier for anyone. Try not to say words whose only purpose is to hurt the other side, as this kind of conversation probably leads nowhere.
Talk to your children
A particularly hard thing about divorce is being there for your children and handling their sadness while you are trying to cope with yourself.
It is a test of your strength, to say the truth. However, what you can do to make it easier for them is, to be honest with them as much as possible. Still, do not drag them into the conflict. Spend time with them, engage in new activities, and encourage them to express their worries. You might not be able to resolve all of them immediately, but even listening can be helpful, as it will make them feel seen and validated.
Adam Mulligan did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.