One particularly challenging day I realized something had to change. I literally was in my car at a stop light and I spoke to myself. “Enough. I cannot do this anymore.”
I went home and made a list of ways I cope better with the emotional toll that my divorce was taking on me. I put that list on my bulletin board near my bed and read it often. It helped! Taking my sanity back was incredibly empowering.
I strongly encourage you to make a list of your own. It doesn’t meant that the reality of your divorce and its real effects will change but it will help you keep your emotional health intact. I’ll share my list with you to help get your creative juices flowing.
- Yoga: I had never practiced yoga before. But one day, my dad and I were eating lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and he noticed a new building nearby. He checked it out. It had a spa, salon and a Bikram yoga studio. I watched a class for a few minutes and purchased a monthly membership. In yoga, I learned about emotional and physical healing, living in the moment, and breathing techniques that lowered my blood pressure. Yoga is a fantastic way to manage stress. If you haven’t tried it, you really should. You don’t have to be in amazing shape—anyone at any level or age can do it. When I started going to yoga, I was just a few weeks post stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma (a blood cancer). If I could do it back then, I really believe anyone can. There were days that I would get a letter or court filing from my husband and I would head to the next yoga class to calm down. It really worked.
- Massage: I found a massage studio near me that offered one hour massages for a really cheap price. I built weekly massages into my budget. It became that important to my emotional health. For an entire hour, I concentrated on relaxing and purging stress from my mind. Those yoga breathing techniques also helped during my massage. A big bonus? My massage therapist became a great friend, too.
- Journaling: I started writing and blogging. Every time I wrote about my marriage, I felt as if I had purged that experience from my body. Writing became an incredibly empowering experience for me. Plus, thanks to my blog and Twitter, I’ve met several new friends— and one of them lives just a few miles from me!
- Faith: I prayed. A lot. I still do. When things are too big for me, I talk to my higher power often and seek guidance, understanding and, most importantly, forgiveness. I haven’t forgiven my ex-husband. Maybe that will happen someday. But I have made peace with it and that helps.
- Dating: So dating again can be a mixed bag. But meeting new guys was fun and entertaining for me. And it gave me hope—hope that there were good guys out there and that I would find someone special. It gave me hope that not every guy out there was like my ex-husband. At a minimum, it got me out of my rut.
- Playing with animals: I love dogs and cats. Few things lift my spirits more than puppy kisses and walking the dogs. If you don’t have a dog, the Humane Society loves volunteers. I’ll bet you’ve got some neighbors, too, who have a dog that would love to go for a walk.
- Vacation/staycation/exploring: Sometimes I just had to get away. That meant packing a suitcase and just going somewhere. Over the past two years I’ve explored my own city and I’ve gotten on planes and traveled far. No matter what my budget is, I can always find something that gets me out of the house and doing something new and different. And when I’m away on vacation, other than “urgent” phone calls, I’m unavailable.
- Unplugging! There were days that I literally turned everything off. That meant my phone, computer, email, blog. All of it. For 24 hour periods. Just knowing that I couldn’t be reached for a period of time allowed me to take an emotional and mental break. It was awesome. I need to do that more often! Plus, my daughters love it when I focus on them instead of the sounds from my phone telling me I have a new text message.
- Getting lost in a great movie and book: I have a stash of fun books in my room and I slowly make my way through them. I have also found tremendous support and understanding in Self Help books. And I love disappearing into a theatre, sometimes in the middle of the day, and watching a movie and eating popcorn. Anything that took me out of the stressful reality of the “now” and into a new world for a few hours was very calming.
- Playing outside: I found that getting outdoors was a huge stress reliever. I started hiking in the canyons, went river rafting, skiing, horseback riding, sledding, biking, going on nature walks, making a campfire in the mountains and making ‘smores… even hangliding! Adventure and nature is a great combo.
Divorce stress never ends. I know I’ll be dealing with its aftermath for years. And that’s why I still have my list and use it as often as I need to. It helps a ton. Try it!