Stress is an expected partner of divorce! Now is the time to develop positive outlets to release negativity from your life!
Have you ever washed and then dried a pair of tennis shoes in the dryer? It’s like a marching band took up residence in the laundry room as the shoes bang, bang, bang up against the sides of the machine! I can’t help but think that the experience of enduring a divorce stress is quite similar to the sensation of spinning out of control while banging one’s head against the wall- just like those poor sneakers!
If I’ve learned anything about divorce, it’s that the stress and emotions involved can become overwhelming. We simply must have an outlet to allow the pressure of that stress to release, or the negativity bubbles and boils under the surface until it blows like a volcano! One or more healthy outlets allows the energy of stress to be converted into something much more pleasant, positive, and productive!
All emotions surrounding divorce are completely natural and understandable; it’s what we do with that energy that makes it either positive or negative. For instance, if we’re angry, taking out our frustrations in a road rage incident is not exactly healthy; but, there are many options we can consider to keep our minds occupied and bring about a sense of peace in an otherwise tense time.
Consider the many benefits any of these outlets may have and how adding one or more to your stress toolkit could do wonders for your wellbeing:
Physical exercise. Exercise has multiple benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing. Physical activity not only promotes physical fitness, but it causes the release of endorphins, the “feel good” neurotransmitters. Endorphins are fantastic at fighting off depression and anxiety, which we all know can be prevalent during divorce!
It’s not necessary to have an expensive gym membership or exercise equipment to reap the benefits of exercise! Simply walking, jogging, or working out with free weights can be quite effective and cost almost nothing. An investment in a yoga class, pilates, or a fun cardio dance class, however, is a great investment in yourself!
We may especially enjoy the benefits of getting toned, losing weight, and improving overall health; but, exercise is also a great way to connect with our kids and can be a lifetime healthy habit that we engage all while getting some fresh air or spending time outdoors!
Meditation and relaxation. We can either employ techniques that help us focus and achieve calm, or simply listen to our bodies more often when we need rest. Relaxation can take many forms, including yoga, Tai chi, breathing exercises, mantras, and guided meditation. These exercises can increase self-awareness, quiet negative emotions, reduce anxiety, and increase patience, tolerance, and creativity.
Many people experience a deepened sense of tranquility, clarity, and rejuvenation after taking time to calm the mind. Another attribute of these methods is that they can be done just about anywhere, and results can often be felt after just a few minutes!
Spirituality. Spirituality is a personal choice and is lived very uniquely by each person who practices it. Being a spiritual person doesn’t guarantee less stress when “bad things” happen; but, what it may do is help us endure difficult situations better because we have a structure and system of beliefs that guide us and offer direction. If one subscribes to an organized religion, the network of support offered within a place of worship can provide hope and encouragement during a tumultuous time.
Nutrition. When we’re stressed, our body may experience a host of negative consequences including muscle tension and pain, poor sleep, and digestive problems (among many!), and our body requires more nutrients to combat these issues. Remember the old saying “you are what you eat?” Well, if we consume large quantities of caffeine, sugar, fat, and alcohol (as many of us do as a comforting response to stress), we actually bog our bodies down with garbage that makes it harder to function!
A high-stress time, such as a divorce is the time to nourish ourselves with foods rich in nutrients and vitamins, such as fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, calcium, and essential fatty acids because they can help us fight the effects of stress by making our bodies operate more efficiently, and help our hormones, immune system, and others maintain balance.
Volunteerism. Becoming involved in our community, and with causes, we care about may be just as therapeutic as a workout! Studies suggest that the physical and emotional benefits of volunteering not only make us feel better because we are connected with others in a meaningful way; but, we also reap the benefits of knowing we are a part of something that is a benefit to others and making a positive difference in the world!
Doctors even believe that volunteering has the added physical benefits of reducing blood pressure, which in turn makes us less susceptible to heart disease and stroke, and may help us live longer! It’s a win-win for everyone!
What do you care about? The environment? Animal welfare? Your community? Whatever cause has a special place in your heart also surely has a charitable side with which we can dedicate time and energy to, instead of wasting worrying and feeling down about our divorce!
Creativity. Creativity can be expressed in a number of ways (dance, music, painting, design, crafting, writing, and so much more!), but every variation of creativity has the power to reduce stress by channeling negative energy into the inspiration for something new and unique. We can be creative simply in the way we decorate our home, arrange a few blossoms for the table, or experiment with fashion. We can really let our creative juices flow by stepping out of our bubble to start taking pictures, attending a pottery class, trying out improv, or putting pen to paper to write or draw.
Maybe it’s been years since last allowing thoughts and ideas to light a fire within? Divorce is an ideal time to release pent-up energy and emotion into a cathartic blast of color, words, and sounds! Seriously, it’s like therapy to splatter paint, squish clay, twirl, and interpret all those feelings into movement and visual representations of what’s going on inside of us!
We all need them, and we will all feel better for having used them to succeed through the stress and pressure of a divorce! Each of us can tap into a variety of different strategies to get the relief we need during difficult times. I have always found art, writing, and talking through my problems to be a big help; but, you will need to find your own tools to release negativity from your life. Start by gravitating toward interests and activities that you have always found to be enjoyable; but, don’t be afraid to try new things, as well! Divorce is a time when we need all the coping skills and help we can get to survive. It’s important to develop ways of taking care of ourselves and to make stress relief and self-care a priority!