In going through a divorce, you are likely to face unforeseen mental health issues. This can be the case, whether you are the initiator of the divorce or on the other side of the matter.
As we know, life’s significant change agents (e.g. moving, switching jobs, or spouses) can produce anxiety, depression, and other issues. According to the Life Change Index Scale or Stress Test, divorce out-stresses us more than any other life event than the death of a loved one.
Mental Health Issues and Divorce
I see this stress in my clients every day in my role as a Salt Lake City divorce lawyer. I invite you to take a moment to consider proactively minding your mental health, with the same intention and care as you do managing your divorce. While we may not share time zones, I am confident that getting a divorce in Utah and staying healthy translates throughout North America.
Mental and Physical Health Influence Each Other
Because your mental health impacts your physical health and vice versa, it’s important to know how to manage both, in order to find the best outcome during the divorce and as you build your new life. Fortunately, multiple sources are available to help you do just that.
The Professional Element: A Life Aid, If Not a Life Saver
Hiring the best Utah divorce attorney is not the only counsel my Utah clients need. I always advise they treat their mental health concerns with the same rigor.
Licensed, professional counseling is helpful even in the most amicable of divorces. With the right therapist, you can discuss how you’re feeling while dealing with the divorce and facing the future. Together, you and your therapist can find ways to appropriately manage your mental health.
Remember, untreated depression is a leading cause of suicide. If you are feeling suicidal, get help immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
The Mind-Body Connection and Divorce
It is no coincidence that DivorcedMoms contributors have more initials than “Esq” (a designation for “esquire,” attesting to the legal credential). In addition to the “MSW” (master’s in social work), contributors likely carry the important alphabet soup of not just therapy expertise, but of medical expertise.
At any point in the divorce cycle, seek out a real connection with your physician. By finding this real connection, I invite you to open up your emotional kimono. Do this by letting your doctor know you are either contemplating or actively going through life’s second-biggest stressor. Your doctor will be able to offer a variety of ways to manage both your mental and physical health. A physician can suggest ways to manage your depression and anxiety. Supplements may include what we perceive as heavier tools like medication and psychotherapy, to the more everyday matters like diet, exercise, and more.
In terms of diet and exercise, here are a few thoughts worth noting.
In terms of diet? Eat well. Depression can impact appetite. As we know, this can be a feast or famine result where some feel no appetite, where others cannot stop eating. Foods like whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, and dark chocolate help fight depression and anxiety.
In terms of exercise? Keep moving. Even if it is just a little, keep moving. Do what you can. James Russell Lowell, the 19th-Century American poet had the sage phrase “Onward and Upward” which has lasted more than 100 years. This has real value at this challenging time. Exercise releases chemicals in your brain that will help you feel better mentally and physically. Keep moving!
Networks that Work for You
We hear it all the time. “Get a good support network.”
But what does that really mean?
Surrounding ourselves with trusted friends and family members is at the core of developing, then relying on, and then enhancing a support network.
Friends can be a shoulder to cry on, whether in-person or with the harsh reality of the Covid climate, virtually. Friends also can offer a different perspective. Even answering the phone or responding to social media posts or emails is food for your deserving soul.
Sleep and the All-Hours Lure of Social Media and High-Tech Tchotchkes
Waking moments can be tough enough. Make friends with sleep. A lack of sleep can make it hard to concentrate and function effectively.
The key to keeping sleep sacred is practicing “sleep hygiene.” This translates to avoiding discussing the divorce with anyone right before bedtime. It includes keeping to a schedule, turning off electronics, and allowing time to wind down.
While communication is important, reading an email when it is too late in the day to contact your attorney with questions or concerns can cause additional stress. Ask your attorney to send you a text if there is a time-sensitive email you need to see. Otherwise, it can help to save checking your email for the morning.
Your Attorney Is Part of Your Trust Network
In addition to your support network, you have a professional network of medical, therapeutic, and legal resources.
Trust your attorney. You hired an attorney to handle the big issues. With that wise choice on your part, you have someone on your team who will see things are handled the best way possible. Trust her to know what actions and options are needed. If you have questions about the next steps and what is required of you, do not hesitate to ask.
Minding Your Mental Health While Managing Your Divorce
As a Salt Lake City domestic violence lawyer, I practice what I preach. The building I own for my firm is co-located with a mental health therapy group. Divorce is our second most intense stressor. We need to manage our physical and mental health right alongside carefully managing the front-end, middle, and back-end of our divorces.