Divorce can be one of life’s most stressful experiences. It also can be a time of creating new relationships, learning and growing. Understanding the emotional and physical stresses that often come with divorce is the first step in learning how to deal with them. When you accept your feelings, and learn ways to care for yourself during this stressful time, you’ll find that you not only can cope with divorce, you can survive and even thrive.
Separating from someone you had hoped would be your life partner is usually painful. You might feel like a failure. You miss the warmth, the friendship, financial security, and sex you had or hoped you would have.
Your job as a parent is suddenly that much bigger if you now have primary responsibility for the children. You may have less time to spend with them, yet their needs are greater. If you did not want the seperation, your resentment and anger may flare up around them, althought it’s not their fault. You and your former spouse may have conflicts about child support.
If you are a parent whose children are not living with you, you may feel guilty, lonely and resentful. You may worry that the children may forget you or be turned against you.
Divorce is especially painful if everyone you know is happily married, or if you get little support from your family.
As with any distressful situation, your body is affected. Ongoing stress can cause minor or major illnesses, including headaches, backaches, ulcers, flu, and asthma. Even if you feel relieved by the divorce, you may have physical symptoms.
You may not be able to change your situation, but you can stay healthy during the transition if you take care of yourself:
• Recognize your feelings. It’s normal to feel lonely, frustrated or even hopeless. Pound on a bed or yell in the car where no one can hear you to release your feelings.
• Reach out to others. Friends, relatives and therapists all can support you. A hug, phone call, or letter can mean a great deal.
• Take risks. Try a new activity. It will keep your mind off your problems and help you meet new people.
• Treat your body well. Cut down on alcohol and smoking. Eat healthy, tasty food. Take long baths and get exercise you enjoy.
Taking care of yourself and taking risks can have surprising benefits. Don’t be surprised if eventually you are stronger, more confident and more content than before.