Maintaining Your Mental Health After A Divorce
Divorce can have a lot of adverse effects on our mental health. Even if the relationship ends amicably, marital disruption is still a significant change that can cause depression, lack of life satisfaction, as well as anxiety and stress. Divorce can even lead to issues such as midlife eating disorders or substance abuse.
Of course, there can certainly be many positive aspects of divorce. Divorce can lead to newfound hobbies, improve your physical health, and provide a much-needed boost in confidence. However, it’s imperative to take care of your mental health during and after your marriage ends in order to resolve feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness, and ambivalence towards future relationships.
For those who are going through a divorce, to get through this painful process, it’s important to make your mental, emotional, and physical health a priority.
Here are some ways to help get you started:
When You Feel Like You Can’t Catch Your Breath
Just like any major life change, separation and divorce can have significant impacts on you and your family. Divorce inevitably disrupts the familiar structure of our lives, which can cause us to mourn for the life we once had premarital problems. You might even begin looking at your past relationship with rose-colored glasses, which can breed doubt and regret. Oftentimes, the mental strain of divorce can have you feeling stuck on a neverending roller coaster, with extreme highs and then lows.
Due to this overwhelming nature of divorce, you’re likely to find yourself mentally drained at the end of each day. Without the right resources and coping mechanisms in place, over time, this can negatively impact your overall health and wellbeing.
To take care of your mental health during a divorce, it’s recommended that you try starting some stress-relieving exercises such as hiking, painting, and cooking. Getting a good night’s rest, as well as certain breathing techniques, can also help you manage stress.
Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to lower stress. In addition to the mental and emotional toll stress can have, it also causes physical reactions such as increased heart rate and high blood pressure. By focusing on breathing techniques such as Belly and Roll breathing, your body and mind can relax.
Divorce is a particularly emotional challenge to overcome. Taking a break from the chaos undoubtedly happening inside your mind with breathing and meditating practices can help ease some of that mental burden.
Make Yourself a Priority
Now more than ever, you need to be taking care of yourself and your body. An excessive amount of stress, like the kind that comes from divorce, has been shown to lead to disordered eating problems. One study, published online in 2010, discovered that children of divorced families were more likely to develop an eating disorder and generally have increased feelings of body dissatisfaction.
If you look through enough divorce-coping resources, you’re likely to notice a common thread. Make nutrition and general diet a priority. The gut-brain connection, better known as the familiar, “you are what you eat” saying, is not a myth. According to those at Rider University, our diet and mental health are linked. The gut is even sometimes referred to as the second brain.
Rider University goes on to explain, “Our gastrointestinal tract is lined with 100 million nerve cells and releases hormones that influence everything from when we are hungry to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. In other words, our guts heavily impact the way our brains think, how we feel, and our general well-being.” To put it simply, if you develop a poor diet, especially during a divorce, your mental health is also likely to suffer. However, this also means that if you can make the effort to revitalize your diet with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, Omega-3s, and fiber your mental health is likely to improve.
It’s hard to not use food as a kind of emotional support during traumatic and difficult moments. Cooking up a healthy meal can often be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re dealing with depression or loneliness. However, poor eating habits can have a domino effect on our mental and physical health. Avoid fad diets, major dietary changes, and consider visiting a trusted healthcare professional to help create the best eating structure for you and your body.
Embrace What You Cannot Change
When a marriage dissolves, there is often this false idea that once the divorce papers are signed the two parties are more than ready to hit the dating scene once again. While some people can be ready to start a new relationship as soon as a few hours after their divorce is finalized, it’s worth keeping in mind that you only need to start dating again when you feel ready.
The tricky part about emotional and mental health, is often our feelings don’t make sense or are difficult to understand. You might find yourself thinking: “I’m single now! Why don’t I feel ready to date?” or even, “What am I supposed to do now?” Life post-divorce can be disorienting and confusing. Your new norm might still feel unfamiliar and awkward as well.
Rather than fighting against yourself and your emotions, learning how to acknowledge, embrace, and explore these new feelings can help you find closure. Whether you do this on your own or seek professional counseling, accepting where you are in life at the moment can help you make clearer, better decisions for yourself. Remove all unnecessary pressures you (or even others) have placed on you. Instead, try setting more short-term goals.
Setting goals post-divorce can help pave the way towards future successes. They help to not only keep you and your mind more grounded but can help change your view of the future. What are your financial goals? Career goals? Home goals? And eventually, when you’re ready, what are your future relationship goals? Write them down somewhere you can easily access them and read over them or add to the list whenever negative feelings begin weighing you down.
The effects of divorce can be felt physically, emotionally, and mentally. Because of this, maintaining your overall health and wellbeing isn’t always easy. However, to move on to the next chapter in life and heal these wounds, you need to make yourself and your mental health a priority.