According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress scale, divorce is the second-most stressful life event.
You may have multiple tasks to handle, like choosing a divorce lawyer and reworking household logistics. Your emotions might be all over the map, ranging from feelings of emptiness to betrayal, rage, deep sadness, exhaustion, confusion, and hurt.
The emotional turmoil that divorce triggers can have a big impact on your mental health. Research shows that people who undergo a stressful life event like divorce are twice as likely to develop depression.
There’s no magic pill for combating the emotional fallout of divorce, but there are multiple ways you can protect your mental well-being during this challenging time.
1. Seek Out Therapy
One of the most important ways you can safeguard your mental health during a divorce is by seeking out therapy. Therapy sessions give you a safe space to speak about your emotions. A good therapist can help you process emotions in a healthy way, address trauma, and gain a better understanding of yourself.
Research has shown that positive psychotherapy has a significant impact on depression in people applying for divorce. This specific study applies to women, but the benefits almost certainly extend to both sexes.
If you have children, it might be a good idea to enroll them in therapy sessions as well.
2. Don’t Stuff Down the Emotions
The breakup of a marriage can be emotionally devastating. Feeling strong negative emotions is natural, and the emotions will begin to lessen over time.
One mistake to avoid is suppressing or bottling up the emotions. This can prolong the process and stop you from fully processing your emotions around the divorce.
Instead, try to let the emotions flow through you. Don’t judge the negative emotion as bad or inappropriate; allow it and accept it, like you would a rain shower, knowing that it will pass and it’s not going to damage you, even though the feelings might be highly painful.
3. Prioritize Sleep
Mental well-being and sleep have a highly interconnected relationship. Stress and anxiety can trigger sleeplessness, and a lack of sleep can exacerbate mental health issues.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, this can increase negative emotional responses to stressors and decrease positive emotions. A lack of sleep can also leave you feeling drained, depleted, and craving unhealthy foods.
Try to make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
It’s important to realize that sleep quality is just as important as duration. If you’re sleeping for 8 hours a night, but rarely get down into the deep, slow-wave part of your sleep cycle, your body won’t achieve full recovery.
To combat this, focus on good sleep hygiene. Make sleep a non-negotiable and have a set sleep schedule. Avoid caffeine and alcohol later in the day, and limit screen usage in the evening.
4. Stay Active
The emotional toll of getting a divorce can leave you feeling tired and depleted. But staying physically active is one of the best ways to support your body during this difficult time.
Exercising boosts endorphins and naturally combats stress. It can also increase your overall well-being and help you process emotions.
5. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation, breathwork, and other mindfulness practices like gratitude journaling are another set of tools you can leverage to protect your mental health and well-being during a divorce.
If you’re new to meditation, try out guided meditations or download a meditation app to get started. You can also practice the art of presence during everyday activities by turning down the volume on your thoughts and paying attention to the physical sensations of the present moment.
6. Eat a Healthy Diet
Focusing on your health is the ultimate act of self-care. By tuning into what benefits your body and what doesn’t, you might also be able to prevent yourself from turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as binge eating, alcohol, or substance abuse.
A healthy diet gives your body the fortification it needs to weather a stressful time. Unhealthy, processed foods can also exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
7. Be Gentle With Yourself
We’ve listed lots of healthy practices that can help you maintain your mental well-being. But nobody’s perfect, and there may be days when you simply don’t have the will to exercise or the self-control to swap out that chocolate bar for a banana.
Try to be gentle with yourself and offer yourself the same level of compassion and understanding that you would give to a friend who was going through something similar.
8. Spend Time With Friends and Family
It can be tempting to isolate yourself and try to deal with everything on your own, but having a support system is critical during stressful life events like a divorce.
Try to block out time to spend with friends and family. Talking through your emotions is important, but it can also be beneficial to schedule activities with loved ones that take your mind off the divorce proceedings.
9. Expand Your Identity
Another way you can slowly build up your mental well-being during and after a divorce is by expanding your identity. Think of divorce as a fresh start.
Sometimes marriage locks you into being a specific version of yourself. Divorce is an opportunity to get back to the roots of who you are. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but weren’t able to in your marriage?
Now is the time to take up that tango class, book that mini trip, revamp your wardrobe, or pick up a new hobby.
Do You Need an Experienced Divorce Lawyer?
Looking after your mental well-being is critical during the divorce process. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the space and tools to process the emotions that come up.
Another way you can protect your well-being is to hire a lawyer who has your best interests at heart. An experienced divorce lawyer will help you successfully navigate the divorce proceedings. A skilled divorce attorney can alleviate stress from the process and ensure your rights are upheld.
If you need to hire a lawyer, we have more than 30 years of experience in handling divorce matters. Contact us today to discuss your case.