Going through a divorce or separation after a marriage breaks down can be one of the most difficult things we can experience. It’s often an emotionally fuelled time with many practical, financial and legal considerations to manage. That’s why it is so important to take care of yourself during this time, both physically and emotionally.
Prioritising self-care can assist in navigating one's way through this challenging phase. This may be a difficult task to not only implement but maintain, particularly with the competing pressures of daily life, but will be well worth the exercise if it allows you to promote and protect your overall wellbeing. Taking care of yourself following a separation will not only help you heal and regain control over your life, but will enable you to build a strong foundation for re-establishing yourself moving forward. In this blog, we will explore some important ways to care for yourself when facing the end of a marriage or relationship.
Accept that your marriage is over.
If you have been in an unhappy marriage for some time, marriage breakdown may not have come as a surprise. In other cases, it may be unexpected. Either way, if you’ve attempted to make it work and have been unable to do so, it is essential to let yourself go through the emotions that come with it.
- Accept your feelings.
Feeling a range of emotions after a marriage breaks down is expected, including sadness, anger, guilt, loneliness, and fear. Don't try to bottle up your feelings or pretend you're not feeling anything. Acknowledging and accepting how you feel is the first step that must be taken for a separation in order for you to best deal with any necessary practical or legal requirements, and begin the healing process.
- Allow yourself to grieve.
The end of a marriage can bring a sense of loss, which is important to acknowledge to allow yourself to grieve. Grieving is a natural process, and suppressing your emotions can hinder healing.
- Seek support.
Regardless of whether the decision to separate was yours, theirs, or mutual, the effect of the separation will give rise to a period of transition, and you do not need to navigate this significant life change on your own. Whether it’s close friends or family members, let the people who care about you offer a listening ear and provide comfort during this challenging time. If needed, seek additional support from a counsellor, psychologist or support group who can help you through this time. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Self-care tips to help you get through a divorce.
There is no magical formula for ‘how to get through a divorce’, but you can take many steps to soften the impact. Here are some of the best methods to support your healing process.
- Take care of your physical health.
Going for a walk, hitting the gym, doing yoga, or joining an exercise class may be the absolute last thing you feel like doing, but it may be exactly what you need to bring your focus back to yourself, and away from external stressors. Your body will likely thank you for it too. It’s normal to want to stay at home, cry, eat ice cream and binge watch favourite shows, but at some stage, you will need to make choices that are going to best serve you moving forward.
Remember to eat a balanced diet. We are organic machines afterall and require a varied and colourful diet in order to give our bodies the best opportunity to operate efficiently. Get enough sleep and consider other healthy outlets that increase your ability to cope with stress. Avoid using alcohol or other substances to numb your pain, this may create further problems for you in the long run. It’s essential to check in with your GP or a trusted mental health professional if numbing is your primary coping strategy.
- Find some new activities to enjoy - or some old ones you know you enjoy.
It can be helpful to find outlets you find pleasure in or rediscover old ones you’ve not made time for. This might be a creative or artistic pursuit, a new hobby, volunteering, or spending time with friends and family. Doing things you enjoy can help you take your mind off your troubles and start to feel better about yourself. Activities like yoga or meditation can also help you slow down and find a sense of calm during this challenging time.
- Be around people that lift you up.
Make time to be around supportive and understanding people who provide a positive and healthy environment as you navigate your way through this challenging period. It can be helpful to talk to other people who have overcome similar challenges and who can give you a positive perspective from the other side.
How long does it take to get over a divorce?
Moving on after divorce isn’t often an overnight process and there is no one-size-fits all approach. It can take time to heal and to feel like yourself again. The process can feel longer if there are strong feelings on either side, legal disputes or co-parenting issues. Getting advice from your accountant, lawyer, and financial advisor from the outset can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, and assist you in formulating an “action-plan” regarding some of the practical, financial and legal issues that you might be facing.
Here are some additional tips for caring for yourself after a marriage breaks down.
- Set boundaries with your ex-partner.
This may mean talking to them only if absolutely necessary, staying away from their social media, and refraining from asking mutual friends about them.
- Enlist legal support if necessary.
If you are struggling with the paperwork and negotiations needed to finalise your separation or divorce, it’s worth speaking to a lawyer about your options instead of trying to do everything on your own.
- Process your own emotions.
Whether you are seeing a therapist, going for runs or journalling, work through the emotions that you are experiencing and learn healthy coping mechanisms for when they arise.
- Take some time for yourself to relax and de-stress.
Consider booking that holiday or taking a day off to read a great book. Spending time in nature and day spas are also excellent ways to feel better and give yourself a chance to recalibrate.
- Focus on self-discovery and personal growth.
A marriage breakdown can be an opportunity to reinvent your own life. Take this time to explore your interests, passions, and aspirations. Maybe it’s time to enrol in that course or set new financial goals? By focusing on your own growth, you can build a stronger sense of self and a more positive outlook for the future.
Many people have gone through what you are going through and have come out the other side. With time and effort, you can heal and move on with your life. Taking care of yourself during this transition period will empower you to embrace the future with renewed hope and optimism.
If you require legal support or assistance, contact our Family Lawyers. We are here to help.