Stress Management During a Divorce
Navigating life through the process of a divorce is a task like no other I have ever known. Yes, I unfortunately know and understand first-hand the mounting stress that takes hold during a divorce. It is difficult to manage the stress and stay sane during the entire process if you ignore YOU.
While this "plan" is not fool-proof (I am no Ph.D.) and won't prevent you from experiencing stress, some of the tips may help diminish it to make the stress more manageable.
My stress management plan:
1. Take hold of your feelings. This could look different for many people, but for me it meant owning what I feel and dealing with my feelings through structured counseling (and multiple breakdowns crying into my pillow). Explore your options for counseling - local groups, church resources such as your pastor/priest, local community colleges, etc. These options are usually little to no cost, and cost is almost always a factor during a divorce. I hear so many of our clients say that they cannot afford to go to counseling, but what usually will end up happening is that your anger and hurt will be expressed to your attorney - not your counselor - and you end up paying for it anyway. Use other outlets, and save your attorney fees for strictly legal matters.
2. Make time for YOU. A lot of times when there is a traumatic event in the family, we stop making time for ourselves and let the "event" take over. This is a huge mistake. Pick back up the hobby you started long ago and forgot, start exercising again or just to read a chapter in the book that you just can't seem to finish. The important thing is not to forget about you and what makes you happy. If you don't know what "you" looks like right now, that's okay! Reinvent yourself, now is the time! Set at least one hour a week aside for "you time" and see what a difference for the better it makes.
3. Know your intentions. Divorce brings out the worst or best in us, and knowing what your intentions are will set the stage for how you are going to act or react to the divorce process and the situations that may arise. Own the reason why you are acting/reacting a certain way; if the answer is something to the effect of "because I want to see them pay," your intentions are questionable, and you will only cause yourself more grief and stress. Do everything you can to manage your negative emotions.
4. Limit indulgence. One very wise counselor whom I still see today told me, "Be careful in indulging in things that only bring you temporary joy." That has really stuck with me through a lot of bad times in my life, and I connect with it by not eating my feelings like I want to, spending money for retail therapy or looking to forget about my problems with a bottle of bubbly. How you connect with this may look different to you, but do be careful in things that bring you temporary joy- you just might find that you gain 50 pounds, have a full wardrobe that does not fit you and all of your booze is gone!