5 Tips for Coping with Divorce

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Couples Counseling, Couples Counseling For One, Healthy Separation and/or Divorce Counseling | Comments Off on 5 Tips for Coping with Divorce

Divorce is stressful. An overwhelming number of life changes may disrupt or alter your life significantly. You may find yourself living in a new house or moving to a different town. Perhaps you need to change your work schedule or choose a new career. Maybe you’ve had a hard time adjusting to a new standard of living or dealing with difficult shifts in friendships and family relationships. It’s easy to become physically and emotionally rundown without a plan to manage the ongoing stress. Consider these useful guidelines for coping with your divorce:

1.   Allow yourself time to grieve the loss of your relationship.

            It is certainly normal to experience negative emotions like grief, sadness, regret, or depression when navigating separation and divorce. Allowing yourself to experience these feelings is helpful to the healing process.  People who suppress or ignore negative emotions may experience temporary relief, but in the long run, will significantly hinder adjustment and slow their recovery. Remember, your marriage was an important relationship; it is natural to feel the loss and suffer the pain of its absence. Even though it may be uncomfortable, or seem counterproductive, fully grieving the end of your marriage actually helps you better manage the stress and keep you moving through the experience in an honest, healthy way.

 2.     Reach out to others for support.

            It is critical that you allow other trustworthy people help you through this difficult time. Research shows that people who have support cope much better with stressful situations. Share your experience with those who care about you. The key is to find people you trust to help you deal with your divorce caringly and compassionately. Placing yourself in the presence of non-judgmental, uncritical friends or family members can significantly ease your burden. If you don’t have a support system, or lost your support system as an added consequence of your divorce, taking steps to begin rebuilding that support system will be important. Do whatever you can to find healthy support early; join a support group, build new friendships, or seek out a counselor to help provide you help and encouragement you can count on.

3.     Establish routines for yourself as soon as possible.

            Upheaval in your daily life is normal as you adapt to the changes imposed by divorce. The distribution of responsibilities in your home may have shifted and require you to implement a new routine. Your new surroundings may dictate new travel schedules. A new community may dictate a change in grocery shopping patterns. It is very important to manage stressful life changes by establishing regular, healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise routines. We are creatures of habit; routine provides comfort, consistency, and structure. All of our regular daily practices help reestablish normalcy and stability during seasons of significant change.

4.     Avoid coping in self-destructive ways.

            Turning to alcohol drugs, food, sex, or unhealthy intimate relationships is a harmful way of coping with the stress of divorce. Thought it may be tempting to numb yourself from thoughts of the relationship or the problems connected to it, destructive behavior only causes more problems in the end. Advice from friends or co-workers to use a new relationship to “forget” your former spouse is not helpful or wise either. Despite any immediate feelings of relief, self-destructive behavior and habits typically do more harm than good.

5.     Seek professional help if necessary.

            What happens if you don’t feel better? What if time passes but you feel worse? If you notice that the depression, anxiety, or sadness that accompanied your divorce is unrelenting, or that you are unable to manage day-to-day life, seek help from a counselor or therapist. A professional can help you come through the worst of the divorce, adjust well, and move forward.

 

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