Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult experiences any adult will face during their lifetime. In fact, according to Thrive Global only the death of a loved one out ranks divorce in the top 10 most stressful life events. If a couple has children, that stress is only compounded. Divorce effects our lives on every level – emotional, mental, physical, financial – you name it.
So since I am an attorney you may be thinking my advice is going to be legal in nature – but you’d be wrong. My number 1 tip as a divorce attorney (and as a woman who has been through my own divorce) is to make SELF-CARE a priority. And I am not talking about long bubble baths, and buying yourself the new shoes kind of self care (though that certainly can be a part of it). I am talking about a comprehensive approach to parenting yourself through the experience.
Here are my best suggestions for taking care of yourself during this difficult time
- Make Alone time a priority. Prayer, mediation, journaling, yoga, church, bible study…one or all – anything that allows you to take some quiet time to center and remember that you are going to get through this and going to be ok.
- Brainstorm: Sit down and write down any and all ideas that sound like a nice break for yourself. This can be little things like a cup of tea, listening to music, making a vision board to as big as planning that trip to Paris you always dreamed of but he didn’t want to go. Once you have a list, schedule them into your life. Set a reminder on your phone for little self care breaks throughout the day, put them in your planner, and hold yourself accountable to them.
- Find a support system. A trusted friend or group of friends, a support group for divorce, and therapist or counselor. You are going to need an outlet that can help you process your difficult emotions, a safe place to vent, and have your feelings validated.
- Books and Podcasts on Divorce: Reading books or listening to podcasts by others who have come through divorce can help you remember you are not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For a list of my favorite resources for divorce, click here.
- Stay single for a while. As tempting as it can be to get back out there, it is so important to give yourself time to fully process the end of your marriage and to be there for your children as they work through it as well. While a new romance can be a nice distraction – the statistics are quite convincing that the prognosis of a first relationship post separation is not good. Instead, focus on getting reacquainted with who you are now without your spouse.
- Give yourself grace. At the end of the day you need to remember the first year of your separation and divorce is incredibly difficult. You are going to have bad days. You are going to lose it. You are going to flip out on your kids and yell. You are going to say something about your spouse in front of them you shouldn’t. You are going to go a little wild. You are going to end up on the kitchen floor in mess of tears after the kids go to bed. You’re going to have moments of being petty and vindictive. I’m sorry – it just comes with the territory. Forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for not handling every aspect of divorce with poise. Strive to do the right thing and stay calm, but understand when you miss the mark, its okay- just get back on track.
If you are contemplating divorce, going through a divorce, or newly divorced I believe that making self-care your priority can turn your breakup into a personal breakthrough. As hard and as sad and as miserable as it all is now, I can speak from 1st hand experience – it does get better – way better! And the way to get better faster is by taking care of yourself through the process rather than making it worse on yourself by engaging in avoidance, numbing, and anger.