Divorce brings about a roller coaster of emotions before, during and after the actual divorce is granted. One day you might be so angry at your soon to be ex that you can’t even see straight and the next day you could be blinded by your tears at your feelings of failure in one of the most important relationships of your life.
Days later you look back and regret how you responded to a nasty email sent by your ex and that you let him get to you. Anger, resentment, guilt, feelings of betrayal, vindictiveness or self-hatred can surely take over your whole being during a divorce and it is not easy to feel you can control them.
Below are some helpful tips to manage your emotions at a time when you need to most.
1. Pause: Think of the big red “Easy” button from Staples. Imagine the word “Pause” on it instead. Take that moment before sending that text or leaving that message or shouting that retort in anger. After pausing, taking a deep breath and thinking of the consequence of what you are about to say/write/emote, do you still feel it is necessary and helpful? Most likely you will then be able to realize it is not worth it.
Let go of that which you have no control. You can not predict or control the actions, feelings or thoughts of others, including your soon to be ex. In order to master your own emotions, you must first accept that idea and try not to let it get the better of you.
2. Go to your happy place: Imagine yourself at a place that makes you happy. Is it the beach on a warm summer day? Feel the cool breeze, listen to the soothing waves crashing on the shore, smell the salty air, see the skyline on the ocean. Transporting your brain to your happy place can be helpful at times of high stress which you will surely encounter during your divorce.
3. Take care of yourself: Make sure you have enough sleep, you are eating well, exercising, not drinking to excess and taking time for yourself. Meditate. Treat yourself when you can.. it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or expensive.. it can be a manicure, lunch with a friend, a long walk on a nice day, a movie. The healthier you are, the better able you will be to control your emotions.
Make sure your kids are okay. When you are going through a divorce it is normal to worry about your kids and how they are handling the divorce. It is important to make sure they are as okay as they can be, given what your family is going through. They also need to see that you are okay and will be able to be there for them when they need you.
If you are concerned about any changes you see with your kids, whether it be a drop in grades, more social problems than usual, withdrawn behavior, excessive moodiness or more acting out than usual, talk to your kids. Even if they seem to be fine, it is a good idea to seek professional help for them so they have an objective adult in their life that can help them, and you, navigate this tumultuous time.
4. Choose to be happy: at any point in your day, you can tell yourself that you choose to be happy. Even if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, have a rough morning with getting your kids to school and run late for work, you can still decide to restart your day and make it better.
5. Make a plan: There are many things that are involved in a divorce, and most of them are not fun. Try to be as organized as you can in terms of figuring out your finances, living arrangements, child care, and scheduling. There are many professionals that specialize in working with women going through a divorce in terms of financial planners, personal organizers, and therapists.
6. Get professional help: There is no shame in going for therapy during a divorce. The more you take care of your emotional needs the better you will be able to manage yourself during your divorce. Allow yourself to have your feelings. Cry, be sad, get angry.. but make sure you have a healthy outlet for these emotions so they don’t overwhelm you and lead you down a path of destructive behavior.
A divorce is a death, a death of the family you had, dreamed about and thought you would always have. It is important to be able to mourn this death as any other and go through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).