Disclosure ~ This is a sponsored post.
As a family law attorney, I can tell you I’ve seen it all. While it is difficult no matter what for anyone to go through a divorce, I’ve witnessed some people coping with it much more successfully than others. I’m writing this article to share with you what my clients have taught me about dealing with the stress of divorce.
1. The Emotional Rollercoaster – Accept it.
It is completely normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, confused—and these feelings can be intense or you may just feel numb at times. Of course you might feel anxious about the future. Even if your marriage was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown is frightening for anyone. Accept that these reactions will lessen over time.
2. Be Gentle with Yourself.
Accept that for a time, you will feel and function at a less than optimal level. While you regain your footing, you might not be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you’ve always done. You may not have as much interest or energy for the activities you used to joyfully participate in. That’s okay. Take time for yourself to recover, regroup, and re-energize.
3. Let Yourself Rely On Your Support Network.
You do not have to go through this alone. Consider joining a divorce support group where you can talk to others who have divorced and hear what they have to say about what coping mechanisms work for them.
Consider sharing your feelings with friends and family, but avoid sharing overmuch with those who remain friends with your ex, as this tends to be polarizing and will complicate an already complicated situation. Also, be careful of sharing too much with your boss or co-workers. They may seem sympathetic but it could have a negative effect on your job.
The bottom line is, isolating yourself can raise your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and get in the way of your work, relationships, and overall health.
Last, don’t be afraid to get outside help if you need it. Talking with a neutral professional is freeing.
4. Invest Your Time and Energy In Caring for Yourself both Physically and Emotionally.
Be good to yourself and to your body. Take time out to exercise, eat well, and relax. Keep to a comfortable and familiar routine as much as you can.
Try to avoid making major decisions or changes in life plans. Don’t use alcohol, drugs or cigarettes as a way to cope; these crutches only lead to more problems.
5. Refuse to Rehash the Arguments That Got You Here in the First Place.
If a discussion with your ex turns nasty, end it. Take control and calmly suggest that you talk later when calm, or just walk away or hang up the phone. A power struggle helps no one and any argument you had with one another is moot after divorce. Don’t get drawn in.
6. Try Something New.
Reconnect with the activities you enjoyed doing apart from your spouse, or before you were married. And how about trying something completely new? Have you always been curious about photography or ceramics, or wanted to take up scuba diving? When you are feeling up to it – and eventually you will – sign up for a class, or volunteer, or join a gym. Take time to enjoy life and meet new people. Meeting new people lets you be the person you want to be now, instead of the person others think you are from long association. New beginnings are refreshing – try it!
7. Think Positively
This too shall pass – it is just a transitory stage. Life will not be the same and will be uncomfortable for a while until you figure things out, but engaging in new activities with new people and moving forward with reasonable expectations will make this transition easier.
8. Talk Honestly with Your Children, but Don’t Overshare.
It is okay to admit to your children that you are angry, or sad, or feeling anything else. It is most likely that your children are concerned about you and also feeling insecure. You should let them know that the divorce had nothing to do with them and that both parents still love them.
Just as you need a routine, so do the children. Try to keep the family routine as familiar and consistent as possible.
It is important to avoid overly confiding in your children about your feelings about the divorce.
And do everything you can to avoid arguing with or talking negatively about your ex in front of your children. Your marriage may have broken down, but your ex is still the co-parent of your children. You are bound together for life because of this, even if you are no longer married. If you move forward in as calm a way as possible considering the circumstances, years down the road you will be glad you did.
About the Author
Katherine K. Wagner, Esq. graduated from Duke University and Washington & Lee University Law School. Ms. Wagner also holds a Certificate in Divorce Mediation from Rutgers University, and is a graduate of the American Bar Association Family Law Advocacy Institute.
Ms. Wagner has co-chaired the Somerset County Family Law Committee and serves as a panelist for the Somerset County Early Settlement Program and as a mediator for the Somerset County Child Custody Mediation Program. She also volunteers with Legal Services of Northwest New Jersey and the Resource Center for Women and their Families.
In addition to maintaining her busy professional and pro bono schedule, Ms. Wagner blogs regularly on issues and current events in family law.