Going through a break-up is difficult enough, but a divorce can be even more stressful. It can deplete and damage your mental, emotional, and physical well-being and lead to depression and anxiety, a decrease in life satisfaction, and feelings of anger, fear, and profound sadness.
As tricky as it is to manage negative emotions and go through the grieving process in a fragile state, it is key to your healing and recovery. Furthermore, it is precisely because divorce is so challenging that your mental health and well-being needs to become a priority.
Here are simple but effective ways to take care of your mental health when you are going through a divorce:
1. Look after your physical health.
There is a strong and undeniable link between your physical and mental health. If you look after your physical health, by implication, your mental health will also flourish. Part of that means eating plenty of natural, unprocessed foods, keeping hydrated as often as you can, and maintaining a regular sleeping pattern. It is also vital to engage in a form of exercise regularly, such as taking long walks, doing yoga, or going for swims, as this is proven to be a major stress-reliever. Furthermore, avoid alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with the divorce—these substances are depressants that can exacerbate negative states and emotions.
2. Surround yourself with as many supportive relationships as possible.
Having a strong support network is key. You don’t need to go through this alone; you need people who will listen to you, make you feel listened to and heard, and will encourage and uplift you when you are down. Good relationships will also help you keep a healthy perspective on things and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how faint. So, share your feelings with the people who love you, or join a support group where you can talk to others who are going through the same thing. The important thing is not to isolate yourself.
3. Be compassionate and gentle with yourself.
Divorce can be incredibly straining, even for the toughest among us. Try not to criticize or be too harsh on yourself—you are doing the best you can, and your best is enough. If you struggle to get out of bed every day, find it hard to engage with others, or feel hopeless or angry some days, let that be okay. Be gentle with yourself and take it one day at a time. Part of practicing compassion is engaging in self-care practices, such as watching uplifting or funny movies, taking a long-desired trip overseas, journaling your thoughts and feelings, or doing things you enjoy such as cooking, hiking, or painting.
4. Practice meditation and mindfulness.
If you are new to the world of meditation and mindfulness, fear not—there are plenty of apps out there like InsightTimer and Calm that provide guided meditations, teach you breathing techniques, and help you get a good night’s sleep. Mindfulness can also be as simple as enjoying the sunrise in the morning or savoring your cup of coffee at work. Practicing these techniques can help with stress management, promote a sense of balance, and keep you grounded during emotional turbulence.
5. Seek the help of a therapist.
In the midst of emotional upheaval, it can be hard to maintain a sense of perspective or hope. This is why seeking the help of a therapist is invaluable when navigating the deep and murky waters of a divorce. A good mental health professional will provide a safe and supportive space where you will feel heard and validated. They will also help you develop ways to cope with the divorce that isn’t harmful to your health and well-being. BetterHelp is a trusted platform that provides licensed therapists who operate in the utmost privacy, are affordable, and work around your schedule.
Remember to take as long as you need in your grieving process and keep in mind that the intensity of this pain is not going to last forever. A divorce may be the ending of a significant relationship in your life, but it is also an opportunity for new life, new relationships, and a new, better, and happier you.