Divorce is one of the most stressful life events. It can be emotionally devastating and can feel like someone you love has died. It’s the end of a life that you knew well and the beginning of the unknown. Emotions run high, yet you must be able to make decisions that will impact the rest of your life. If you have children, it will impact their lives too. All of these issues can be overwhelming which make it difficult to think clearly.
There are ways to make the transition through divorce more manageable and lessen the overwhelm. Following are six methods to maintain a sense of calm during divorce:
1. Set up a support network. Find your support team which can include friends, family, a divorce support group, therapist (who specializes in divorce), divorce coach, divorce mediator and attorney. Friends and family are important because you’ll need people to talk to who unconditionally love you. If there are friends who aren’t supportive, find others who are. The professionals in your support team are important because they are unbiased and will provide you with the facts that you need to make decisions. Make sure your attorney is looking out for your best interests – which is not necessarily the same as looking to get you the best financial package. Confirm that your attorney is open to your point of view and listens to you while giving you sound advice.
2. Establish an exercise routine. Exercise, yoga and meditation are all extremely helpful when going through divorce. Many people feel that they don’t have the time to exercise because they prioritize work and children. However, it’s actually more important during stressful times to make the time to exercise. Research has shown that exercise is as good if not better than medication for relieving stress.
3. Focus on the children. If you can focus on your children and not on the divorce, that will help you remain calm. Children live in the moment and are not thinking about the divorce all of the time. They have school, sports, extracurricular activities and friends and have a way of taking up their parents attention. That’s great! They can help you live in the moment. They need you to be there while life is happening. They can help you put the divorce aside for periods of time which will benefit you and them.
4. Try to maintain good communication with your ex. This may be difficult but the more you can continue to communicate respectfully with your ex, the better it is for everyone. This does not include situations where there has been abuse. However, if there isn’t abuse, maintaining communication with your ex will enable you to have more control over your divorce. There are a lot of decisions that you both have to make. Direct communication enables you to get through some of the decisions together. If there is a lot of anger and you have difficulty speaking respectfully with each other, you can meet with a therapist who specializes in helping families deal with divorce. A therapist provides a safe space where you can talk about emotional issues while keeping a respectful tone.
5. Know that you are grieving and you need to honor that grief. No matter what the situation is, you will experience grief. Grief over losing the dreams that you had when you were first married, losing an intact family, losing your ex’s family if you were close to them, losing some friends who were closer to your ex, losing a partner, etc. There are so many things that will be different. Allow yourself time and space to feel the emotions of denial, bargaining, anger, sadness and eventually acceptance. In most cases, people gain a tremendous amount from the experience. For one thing, you become stronger. You know if you can get through this experience, you can get through almost anything. You have learned valuable lessons from your relationship. You also gain independence and a new life going forward. You are in charge and you can make any decision you want. It’s a very empowering place that you will get to in time.
6. Recognize that this will end. You won’t always be in the process of your divorce. There will be an end to the overwhelm, grief, stress, decisions and anger. You’ll get to a place where it doesn’t hurt anymore. You’ll get to a place where you will wake up and be excited for the day to start.
If you build a supportive network around you, create an exercise routine, focus on your children, maintain good communication with your ex and honor your grief, you’ll go a long way towards creating an environment where you can not only get through the divorce process, but also thrive when it’s over. Recognize that the process will end. You will be able to move on in your life, and you will become stronger in the process!
Learn more about Jill Kaufman in her The MarketSpace online office.