Going through a divorce or the breakup of a long-term relationship is a really stressful and traumatic life changing event. Even more so if you weren’t expecting it. For anyone going through a breakup over the last year, it's been especially difficult without the in-person support of friends and family.
Divorce can be a brutal process. Looking after your mental health and emotional well-being is essential during this time and should be a priority. However, when you’re in the midst of it all, it’s easily overlooked. It's common to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress during this time, as well as using coping mechanisms such as drinking too much, taking drugs or working long hours.
Here are are 10 tips to help you maintain your mental health whilst going through a divorce or breakup.
1. Allow yourself to grieve – When you’re going through a divorce, you’re naturally grieving the loss of your relationship, family unit and the future you expected to have together. Allowing yourself to really feel all the associated emotions is part of the healing process and completely normal. You need to go through this to be able to let go of the past and move on.
2. Be kind to Yourself – Give yourself a break, acknowledge what you’re going through and make a conscious decision to look after yourself during this stressful time. Make sure you have enough rest and do some relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation, reading or just watching TV. It can be really challenging if you have a demanding job. Let your boss know what’s going on so that they understand your situation and can support you. Try and have a daily routine that will give you structure to your day.
3. Seek support from close friends or family – It’s easy to become isolated when you’re going through a divorce as often the last thing you feel like doing is socialising. But it’s crucial to have a support team in place that can be there for you whenever you need them. Think carefully about who you turn to as sometimes close family and friends have an opinion on what you should and shouldn’t do as they are so close to the situation, so may not give the best advice.
4. Exercise and nutrition – When you’re going through a breakup, exercise is sometimes the last thing you feel like. It’s hard to get motivated and the stress you're under makes you feel exhausted. Getting the heart rate up through exercise releases all the endorphins which help to make you feel better. Find something you enjoy and ask a friend to join you. If you can get out in nature, that’s even better. Try and eat a healthy diet and nourish your body so it can cope better with the stress and support your immune system which may be compromised during this time.
5. Get enough sleep – Insomnia is a common effect of a breakup but it’s really important to try and get enough sleep as it helps you to deal with stress. Have a bedtime routine. Stop using all your electronic devices at least an hour before you go to bed as they can stop you sleeping and leave them outside the bedroom. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even at weekends.
6. Show kindness – Kindness is the antidote to stress. It releases the hormone oxytocin, also known as the “kindness hormone” which helps you feel warm and connected. Being kind has such a positive impact on how you feel. Be kind to yourself as well as others.
7. Gratitude – Gratitude has been scientifically proven to directly increase your happiness levels and is a great way to improve your mood. It calms the mind and reduces all the negative emotions you may be feeling. It’s a powerful way of getting your brain to focus on more positive things. Keep a list of 3 things you are grateful for every day for at least 3 weeks and you’ll start to notice a difference.
8. Opportunities – Think about what you can do now that wasn’t possible when you were in your relationship. What do you love doing but haven’t had the chance to do for a while? Trying out new activities is also a great way of meeting new friends. If your ex has the kids every other weekend, then use some of that time to do what you love and makes you happy. Surround yourself with people who are fun to be with.
9. Focus on your future – One of the reasons that someone gets stuck moving on after a breakup is that they haven’t got a compelling future to look forward to. You need to create a future for yourself that you are excited to wake up to. This gives you something else to focus on other than the past.
10. Seek help – It’s not a weakness to admit that you’re struggling. If you haven’t got support elsewhere then it’s important you find somewhere you can talk openly about how you’re feeling. Try a counsellor, support group or a divorce coach who can all help.
“I know from my own experience how traumatic it is to go through a divorce. You go through a roller coaster of emotions as you grieve the loss of your relationship and your mental health can really suffer. It’s so important to do everything you can to support your emotional well-being. The healing takes time, but you will come out the other side and find happiness again”
If you're struggling to move on after your divorce you can download my free checklist - 10 Simple Secrets to let go of the past and move on after your divorce here