Surviving Divorce: 10 Helpful Ways To Cope With The Ending Of Your Marriage
By Nancie Cheppo, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
The pain and ambiguity of divorce may be depressing, but the following suggestions may help you get through a divorce with minimal emotional impact.
Whatever the circumstances, the end of any marriage is often painful and creates challenges that seem difficult, if not impossible to overcome. Making the decision to divorce is often fraught with issues and situations that were never anticipated, and there are no clear guidelines for how to dissolve the relationship gracefully.
Whether the marriage has lasted two years or 20, many feelings come forward during the process of breaking up that can be scary and sometimes overwhelming. We can all seek feedback and advice from friends, family, and even Dr. Phil. However, each of us has our own path, and how we navigate through the muddy waters is sometimes difficult to deal with, and can create feelings of anxiety, isolation, and sadness.
During the process of divorce, it is very important to keep in mind that no matter how fear-filled, complicated and challenging it may be, it is important to look for opportunities for respite and ways to keep your self-esteem from tanking. When times are hard, self-care is crucial to well-being. The following are some suggestions for getting through and beyond the break-up without losing yourself in the process.
1. Set an intention when you wake up each morning to take some time for yourself. Even if it is for a 15 minute walk...and if you can do it in nature, all the better. Use this time for deep breathing, and keep in mind that exercise releases endorphins that can help lift your spirits.
If you are a spiritual person, you might use your daily time to pray for the highest good of yourself and all concerned.
2. If possible, create and affirm some kind of statement about how you want to go through the process. I.e. "I shall do my best to work through this with as positive an attitude as possible, while taking good care of me and my needs."
3. Plan a fun activity for yourself or with your kids at least once a week. For example, see a movie that is uplifting or just plain silly.
4. On the other hand, if you are feeling sad, let yourself have a good cry. Often there are feelings of great loss associated with the break-up of a marriage, and the separation of a family. Allow yourself to know that it is OK to feel all of those things. Just let those feelings out.
5. If you are someone who likes to write, or to draw or paint, take some time to express yourself and your feelings through your art. It can be liberating to have a creative outlet for what is going on inside of you.
6. Make an appointment for some body work. Often the stress of divorce can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach distress, insomnia and body pain. Having a massage can be healing during times of emotional strain.
7. Spend time with good friends. However, do your best to focus on some activity or something of mutual interest. Friends can sometimes feel overburdened when the topic is always about you and the break-up of your marriage.
8. If you have children, take some time to encourage them to share their feelings about what is going on in the family. It might be valuable to pick up a copy of "My Parents Still Love Me Even Though They're Getting Divorced," by Dr. Lois Nightingale and read it along with them.
9. Find books and tapes that are uplifting and will support you in your healing as well. The Power of Self-Esteem, by Nathaniel Brandon, and Ten Poems to Change Your Life, by Roger Housden are two possibilities.
10. And, last, but certainly not least, if you need some extra help, contact a professional who specializes in supporting clients through major life transitions, especially divorce. In California, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTS or LMFTs) are often trained to deal with these issues, as are some Licensed Social Workers.
The most important thing is to know that you do not have to go through this process alone, and that there is always someone available who can support you... And that there is life after divorce.... Many who have gone through it have found life afterwards to be very rewarding and if desired, have found successful relationships in their future. Know that this can be you.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
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Newport Beach, CA 92660
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