The stress of a marital breakup leads to a significant increase in anxiety and depression symptoms in 30 to 40 percent of Americans, according to the Surgeon General. Going through a divorce, regardless of the reason, will be an intense emotional experience and struggle. Divorce is more than the loss of a relationship; it's the loss of stability, routine, shared dreams, plans and often financial crises or hardships follow.
Maintain your physical health. It's easy when going through a traumatic life event to let things like sleep, eating right or exercise slide. However, keeping the physical side of yourself healthy will help you keep the emotional you healthier. Avoid the traps of binge eating, junk food or refusing to eat. Also, avoid using alcohol or drugs to ease your pain.
Try to pamper yourself regularly in small ways, like a hot bath, getting a massage, reading a book, taking a walk somewhere peaceful or watching a favorite movie. Giving yourself some gentle care and time outs are positive ways to heal.
Realize a divorce is a process. Either dragging your feet in denial or rushing ahead mindlessly are hazards. Instead, attend to most pressing matters first such as shelter, food and any issues of safety. Then take your time, choosing appropriate representation and realizing your emotions will swerve and change throughout the process.
Find your support system and discover new goals. Surround yourself with people who help you feel better and stronger. Let yourself find new dreams for your future. Daydreaming is not a waste of time when it helps you envision an independent and happy life ahead. If you need to speak with a counselor or professional to sort through the emotional debris of your marriage, then do so without hesitation.
Find positive outlets for your emotions, and resist the urge to stuff your feelings inside or become embroiled in a permanent state of anger or adopt a petty attitude. These keep you glued to your past which wasn't working or else you wouldn't be divorcing now.
Expect setbacks, bad days and ambivalence. It's part of the process. Give yourself a break when emotions overwhelm you but make it your goal to try to keep a pretty regular schedule. Cloistering yourself away from the world once in a while can be nurturing to yourself, but making it a habit will transform you into a miserable hermit.
Keep children, if you have any, out of the fray. Don't draw them into your own personal battles. Talk to them about what is happening in a calm and supportive tone. Let them know they have both parents forever and that you will all survive this bad time. Expect some behavioral issues and emotional outbursts. Seeking counseling is a wise option for parents to ensure the least chaotic and painful route through the breakup.
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- man and woman divorced image by Ivonne Wierink from Fotolia.com