Divorce is stressful, even an amicable divorce. You will grieve the lose of what you once had (or the illusion you thought you had). Life doesn’t stop when you are in a divorce, you still get sick, have bad days at work, emotional issues with family, financial problems, life goes on. How you handle that stress will greatly affect your life.
I admit I had a huge learning curve when learning to cope with divorce anxiety. My divorce was a different kind of stress than I was used to dealing with and sadly I had to learn how to cope in a new way.
10 Practical Stress and Anxiety Relieving Tips:
1. Breathing techniques work wonders. We have all heard, take a step back and count to ten,” when we are in stressful situations. Instead of counting to ten, I inhale, hold it for a count of 5 and slowly exhale. Repeat until you can feel your body and emotions respond. You can also use this technique to control your heartrate when it is racing. Deep, measured breathing and concentration on slowing your heart rate – it works.
2. Journal every day. I kept a journal, in it I noted so many things but I was sure to always note good things about the day even if they were minute. It kept me from drowning in misery. My journal was also a great way to look back and see emotional progress. I needed to know I wasn’t stuck in a rut even if it felt like I was.
3. Put yourself in the other parties shoes, even if it is your ex. My ex, his drama filled friends and family were all going through the same stress I was going through. And I knew his life wasn’t perfect no matter how much he pretended it was. I knew he was hurting. His anger is a result of that pain. It made it easier to hold him at an emotional distance.
4. Create an emotional safety zone. I knew when I was having an exceptionally bad time/day/week. Prevention is the best thing, so I avoided stress the best way I could during those times. I quickly learned to implement rules such as all communication with the ex was done in writing, either text or email. No verbal communication at all. Written communication has many advantages:
- You can set it aside and deal with it when you are ready.
- It gives you time to say what you mean and mean what you say. You have the benefit of thinking your reply through.
- Text messages and emails are admissible in court. This does two things; it provides a record of whatever your ex is saying and it makes you be careful in your response. Your answers will be less inflammatory, and much more to the fact. You can remove your emotions in your response.
5. Find your happy place. I was/am broke. He set out to ruin me financially and pretty much succeeded. This means I don’t go on vacation and don’t have money to go shopping very often. I had to find an in-expensive way to treat myself. So, a long hot bath with a good book, a bottle of wine, and some music does the trick. If you are creative, art may be your happy place. Whatever you do, do not choose food, this will only make things wose.
6. Exercise!!! Physical movement is an amazing stress relief. Go on a walk, run the bleachers, a bike ride, yoga, zumba whatever your choice is go out and do it. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Whatever is going on, 10 minutes of exercise will help you clear your head and think more logically. As a single mom hitting the gym is difficult for me, I feel guilty taking time away from my kids. I care a lot about my body, so I have a compromise to regular gym workouts. I go to the gym when I can and I do workouts at home when I can’t. My favorite home workouts are those I can divide up throughout my day. I do squats while I brush my teeth or blowing my hair dry. I can do lunges while cooking dinner if I need to. Find things you can do in small segments and spread them throughout your day if necessary.
7. Evaluate your life, friendships; all of your relationships. There may be some relationships that only create stress and unnecessary drama in your life. Limit the time you spend with these people.
8. Set boundaries. Written communication is a great example of a boundary. Limiting time with people that drag you down emotionally and saying NO. You are superwoman, you are not I can do everything all the time woman. Boundaries with your ex, with your children, at work, in every area of life. Learn to be in control. Step back, take a realistic view of your life. Are there things you need to cut out? Is PTA something you absolutely need to participate in?
9. Give yourself permission to grieve. A divorce for whatever eason is the loss of the future you thought you were going to experience. You need to grieve; it is ok to have bad days. Give yourself permission to grieve but do not get stuck in your grief. Release the pain, forgive and let it go.
10. Do not jump into another relationship immediately. It’s so tempting, you are lonely, hurting and a hug would be amazing. You just want someone to talk to. I completely understand. However, if you get into another relationship too quickly you will be building a rebound relationship on a fault line. The earthquake will occur when all the tremors of your emotions surface. Be fair to yourself and to your potential partner. Say no until you are happy and content by yourself.
Bonus: Eat healthy. Make wise food choices. You don’t need to go crazy about being healthy however tracking how you feel the morning after you eat pizza will certainly make you think twice about having it again. Add more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet and reduce your processed foods if possible. This will give you clarity of thought and increase your overall health!