I can’t stress enough the importance of self-care after an affair. Living in a state of trauma, chaos and stress are bad for your body and mental health. Stress causes cortisol to rise and can wreak havoc on your body.
I knew that I needed to find some peace, calm and serenity during this dark time, but I didn’t really know in the early phases what would create this kind of environment for me.
There were days where I didn’t want to get out of bed, so the thought of self-exploration and reflection to reclaim a calmer state of mind sounded exhausting.
Self-Care After an Affair
Acknowledge and Validate Your Feelings
There’s a fine line between distraction and avoidance when dealing with a traumatic situation. You can’t avoid it forever and inevitably when your feelings arise or you are triggered, rather than trying to push it out of your mind, instead try to understand what you’re feeling and why.
Nailing down the feeling (sadness, pain, abandonment, loneliness) and what caused the trigger is helpful. Acknowledgment and validation, even to yourself, makes you realize it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling because it is. You are where you are and that’s ok. Identifying what caused your emotions to flare up can help you recognize it in the future to prevent it or soften the blow.
The Art of Distraction
While it’s important to not constantly avoid your feelings, you can’t live in your pain all day every day. Once you’ve acknowledged your feelings or triggers at the moment, go do what you enjoy doing, if that feels acceptable to you. Try something new or default to an activity you love with someone in your inner circle who you can trust.
I’ve never really been into journaling, but I will say – if you have the time and you are seeking better or different ways to cope, writing your feelings down can be therapeutic. Ahem…I did end up writing this book! Write a letter to your partner if that helps you articulate the pain you’re in. It’s up to you whether you share it or not – it’s more for you than your partner. Burn it, share it, whatever feels best to you.
I’ve also never been into meditating but out of necessity, this felt like something worth exploring. There are many applications you can download on your phone for a guided meditation which may help calm your mind when it’s wandering on repeat with all those negative or painful thoughts.
It also can include the practice of gratefulness. It’s hard to be grateful in your trauma, but I’m willing to bet there are things in your life you are grateful for that bring you happiness and joy (your health, your job, your kids, your family, your friends).
You might be noticing a theme here, but again…I’ve never been into yoga! My friend told me specifically about yin yoga and we’ve jokingly referred to it as a “guided nap.” Sorry if this offends any yogis out there. There’s science behind the benefits of tapping into your parasympathetic nervous system and how that correlates to a reduction in stress. I did this once or twice a week during my most stressful months and I always walked away from the class feeling relaxed. I’m still not a die-hard yoga fan, but I recommend it for the above mentioned reasons and it did help calm my body and mind.
Massages (or any spa treatment)
Now, this is something I’ve always enjoyed. A little pampering and relaxing are good for the mind and soul.
Being in Nature
I started to seek out environments and landscapes that made me feel at peace. Being in nature or on the water for me was relaxing and it fed my soul. Enjoying views and watching sunsets made me feel calm and gave me a sense of serenity I desperately needed.
I live in a big city with bumper to bumper traffic and that did nothing to bring me the feeling of calm I was seeking. I started to do day trips away from the city and a handful of trips alone where I’d rent a place with a view, near the water and far away from the hustle and bustle of both the city and my internal thoughts.
Identify how you can best take care of yourself will greatly help you in your journey after infidelity.