A divorce can mean a significant change in lifestyle or the need to make difficult decisions, things that are not easy at the best of times. Add to that increased stress, heartache, and even depression, and things start to look and feel even worse.
While it might seem impossible, or like a distant priority, looking after yourself is paramount in these trying times.
This is why we have put together this list of simple actions you can take to practice self-care and ensure that you are as calm, happy, and healthy as possible.
In periods of emotional turmoil and stress, self-care tends to be one of the first practices to go out of the window.
Unfortunately, failure to look after yourself is not an option.
Self-care is more than a self-help buzzword, it is an essential part of staying healthy and connected to yourself and those you love.
A proper self-care routine can improve productivity, reduce anxiety, and improve mental health overall, improve physical health, provide more energy, and help you navigate your change in circumstances more calmly and clearly.
What follows is a list of self-care tips and rituals that you can practice during your divorce.
Whether you are staying in the matrimonial home, or have moved on to another space, an upheaval like the dissolution of a marriage can take its toll on your home life.
Work to make a space that is safe and comforting to you.
If you do not unpack in your new home, or leave empty spaces where familiar items once stood, you are leaving room for additional sadness and disorder. Unpack your things and rearrange the space to make yourself happy. You can mourn your losses without having to live in the middle of them.
This is a great time to declutter and simplify your space and life. Rent or buy a shredder and get rid of documents that you no longer need (check retention times for documents that you are unsure of prior to shredding). Repurpose or rearrange the furniture into something that works for you.
Purge a closet, clean out that ‘junk’ drawer.
Keeping your home clean and organized can do wonders for your mental health. If you feel overwhelmed and need a jumping-off point, organize a cleaning bee (getting a group of friends to help clean each other's homes together), or hire a cleaner for a deep clean of your home.
Creating a welcoming environment and a safe space for your new lifestyle does not have to cost any money at all and can be as simple as cutting fresh flowers to create cheer.
Exercise, as we know, is beneficial for getting you into shape but, the benefits don’t stop there.
Exercise can help to improve your mood, and by exercising for just 30 minutes a day, 3 times per week you can help stave off depression and boost your energy during the stressful divorce process.
This does not mean you have to spend money for a new gym membership (if you don’t want to), you can go for a walk, swim, or ride a bike. Exercise by doing something that you enjoy and pushing yourself to do so will help you to feel accomplished and refreshed.
When a marriage ends, depression and emotional stress are very common, so using exercise as an outlet for your frustration can distract you and give you the boost you need in other areas of your life.
3) Make sleep a priority
It is important to establish or maintain healthy sleeping habits during a marital split.
Sometimes, when you are overwhelmed with grief or stress, watching countless hours of sappy movies on Netflix or staying up all night becomes the new norm. It is imperative to set a sleep schedule and stick to it.
Creating a bedtime routine might help ensure that you are fully functioning and ready for the day when you wake up, and poor sleeping habits can compound what you are feeling and lead to further depression.
If sleep is not coming to you as easily as it has before you split from your spouse, reading a book or performing deep breathing exercises can help you fall asleep.
When going through a divorce, it can be easy to withdraw from friends and family. But, spending time with people that genuinely care about you is a great way to practice self-care.
You may not want to even speak about what is going on with your divorce, but, if you do, lean on your family and friends that have been through a similar experience for added support and guidance.
The people that love you can help you feel nurtured and cared for. Reach out to a friend for a coffee and a visit. Don’t set an agenda, don’t try to entertain them. They will understand your boundaries and should be willing to just sit with you.
Friends and family can be sounding boards but it is important to be mindful of what you say if there are children involved in your relationship. You do not want to speak about their other parent in a negative way. If you are full of hurt and anger that lead you to negative and hurtful speech, try to save those comments for individual therapy sessions or journal these feelings. Your children should not carry the burden of your breakup.
This step may sound a bit too basic, but it can be important. No matter how difficult things feel, try to get up each morning and start your day.
Showering and putting on fresh clothes can make you feel as though you are ready to conquer new challenges or take on the day, even if your only plans are to hang around the house.
It is okay to have a pajama day every now and then, we all need them sometimes, but try to limit them to one per month. You’ll thank yourself later!
Going through a divorce can be especially overwhelming when you can’t afford to pay for a divorce attorney and all of the costs of splitting up your life together.
Untie the Knot has the resources you need and knowledgable support to answer your questions and walk you through the divorce process.
You may even have a more amicable divorce from your spouse if you do not have a long, drawn-out court case.
Practicing self-compassion might be hard when you are going through a divorce. Part of the healing process is letting go of the things that you are unable to control, and forgiving yourself for any part you had in the split up.
Your internal dialogue may be repeating negatives at this time, and you will need to reset that narrative by practicing healthy self-talk. Even if you are not feeling that you are worthy of forgiveness or compassion, change your internal dialogue by using affirmations and positive thinking will help your self-esteem.
Self-care is one of the most important activities you need in order to cope with the emotions you experience over the of your marriage and the loss of a spouse.
Separation and divorce can throw even the most grounded person into a tailspin, so remember that leaning on family, or a therapist and practicing positivity can lead you on a path that will prepare you for success when you emerge on the other side.