Divorce may be a well-known term, but it is not necessarily any easier to live with. There are millions of married couples throughout the world who decide they would be better off being single than staying married to their current spouse. And, the chances are good that their divorce will impact their health.
In addition to ensuring that your marriage is dissolved as seamlessly as possible, you should look after your physical and mental health during the process. Anxiety, anger, and depression are just some of the things you might experience, and they can physically and mentally damage you.
6 Surprising Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Health
1. Development of Chronic Stress
Stress is one of the most common ailments experienced by individuals going through a divorce. You are trying to get your personal affairs in order, and there are dozens of other things you might also have to deal. A divorce can be all-encompassing, including ensuring the welfare of your child and keeping your finances in check.
Chronic stress is different from regular stress because it is ongoing. When you are experiencing acute stress (the lesser form), your body will secrete adrenaline. On the other hand, chronic stress forces your body to continually release cortisol, which is a hormone that can affect almost every aspect of your body.
Living with chronic stress can be a nightmare. It can lead to higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, chronic migraines, and disturbed sleep patterns.
2. Drastic Changes in Weight
As mentioned, stress has a significant impact on your weight, whether you are the type of person to eat more or less when you are stressed. In most cases, individuals will find themselves reaching for unhealthy foods because they are seeking comfort. Others prefer to eat fast food because they simply do not have the time or energy to put effort into cooking well-balanced, nutritious meals.
It is common for both men and women to lose weight as a result of their divorce. This change could be due to the lack of initiative to cook, so more meals are skipped. Alternatively, they may experience a loss of appetite. As a result of unhealthy eating patterns, you can begin to see your weight change within a matter of months, and the process can continue for years.
3. Substance Abuse
Growing up, you heard stories about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. People are far more susceptible to drink excessively and use illegal drugs when they are distraught. Considering that divorce can crush a person’s sense of belonging and happiness, it is common for heartbroken people to turn to alcohol and other substances.
Although it might be easy to cope with your feelings of depression, anxiety, or loneliness by abusing alcohol and drugs, it is important to supplement bad habits for good ones. According to Harvard Medical School, divorced men are more likely to use substances than married men.
Instead of opting to drown your sorrows, consider visiting the gym, signing up for a kickboxing class, or going out for daily runs. That way, you can channel your negative energy into something beneficial.
4. Development of Insomnia
Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines it as “a subjective complaint of difficulty falling or staying asleep or poor sleep quality.” Dealing with divorce is dangerous for your conscious and subconscious mind. Many divorcees have claimed to experience extreme difficulty falling asleep and frequent sleep disruptions, such as nightmares.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, individuals who are experiencing depression as a result of a recent divorce are far more likely to experience insomnia. Without a sufficient amount of sleep, you are putting several different bodily functions at risk, since your brain is meant to recover while you rest. Insomnia can lead to impaired attention, concentration, and alertness, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and chronic fatigue.
5. Long-Term Mobility Issues
You may be wondering how a divorce can lead to long-term mobility issues, and the answer is simple: Once you stop moving, getting the motivation to leave the house becomes more difficult.
We have all experienced a heartbreak that seems to bring the whole world crashing down around us. Unless you are lucky enough to experience an amicable divorce, there is a high probability that it will get worse before it gets better. Long-term mobility issues are incredibly common amongst divorced men and women since many find it harder to exercise regularly, or even go outside.
According to the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, there is a 20% higher chance for divorced and widowed people to encounter chronic health conditions as a result of inactivity. Therefore, it is essential that you force yourself to stay active, as long-term mobility issues can lead to obesity and the deterioration of your joints and muscles.
6. Suppressed Immune System
Your immune system is needed to protect your body from illnesses, but it also helps prevent autoimmune diseases, which essentially involve your immune system turning against you. In order to ensure that you do not get sick, it is important that you prevent the suppression of your immune system.
Unfortunately, post-divorce stress can lead to an insurmountable level of pressure being placed on your immune system, slowly weakening it until it cannot defend your body from viruses. It is not a surprise if you start to notice your immune system failing as a result of a highly stressful situation, especially if your emotions are in turmoil.
There are many different ways you can avoid the suppression of your immune system, ranging from eating healthier foods with antioxidants to exercising on a regular basis.
Divorce can wreak havoc on your mind, but it can also lead to dozens of other ailments that your body will have to deal with. Although it might be tempting to fall into unhealthy routines and let yourself go, it is important that you focus on your mental and physical well-being to stay strong and healthy.
Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.