While the divorce rate has gone down slightly, approximately 42 per cent of first marriages will end in divorce, according to the UK Office For National Statistics. Half of these marriages will end in less than 10 years with the average age for instigating divorce being around 45. In the U.S., 60 per cent of second marriages will end in divorce and a startling 73 per cent of third marriages end in divorce.
What does this mean for you if you are already going through it? It means you aren’t alone. There are millions of other people who are going through the exact same thing as you. Divorce is hard. It is one of the hardest things you will go through in your life. It is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it.
It is possible to maintain your physical and emotional health even as you go through a divorce, whether it is a contested divorce or not. This report is going to help you with many aspects of divorce while you manage your health and become a better person because of it.
The Emotional and Physical Effects of Divorce
When you begin divorce proceedings, your biggest concerns are probably child custody and child support, living arrangements, splitting up your property, and financial concerns. You may have been the person who asked for a divorce so you have a little advanced warning, or your spouse could have dropped the bomb and now you have to figure it out.
Either way, divorce is not an easy thing to go through, but you will overcome it. It is important to first be aware of the emotional and physical effects divorce can have on you before you start working on maintaining your health. Here are some things you may experience during the divorce proceedings:
Emotional Effects of Divorce
Divorce can do a number on your emotional and mental state. You have been with this person through thick and thin, good and bad. No matter how long you were married, you were joined in unity, you may have children, have purchased a house together, shared a lot of memories. Now you are faced with putting all that behind you and going out on your own. This causes a lot of emotional changes, whether you were the one who asked for the divorce or not. It can cause you to experience:
Anger – Anger is a very common thing to experience during a divorce. If your spouse was the one to file for divorce, this is going to cause a lot of anger for breaking up your marriage. If it was you that made the choice, there are many things that might come up during the divorce proceedings to cause and anger and resentment, such as fights over property, child custody disputes, and many other issues.
Depression – Depression may come right away, when your spouse first moves out of the house, or when you realize you won’t get custody of your kids. Depression comes in waves, often worsening at night or when things trigger it, and suddenly you feel lonely, sad, and confused. If you already struggle with depression, it will likely be worse for you, so be prepared for it.
Anxiety and stress – Mental illnesses like anxiety disorders are also worsened by major life events like divorce. Everything about the divorce process causes both anxiety and stress, such as the fear of the unknown, anxiety over what is going to happen with your children or pets, stress over financial constraints. Even just dealing with your spouse and their lawyer can be a stressful ordeal.
Sadness – You will undoubtedly reach a point when the divorce causes you to be very sad. This is similar to depression, though you should understand the difference.
Physical Effects of Divorce
While many people think about the emotional or financial effects of divorce, they rarely bother to think about the physical effects. Your body will also go through a lot of changes during divorce proceedings, such as:
Digestive issues – You may start to experience your stomach-turning, leading to the feeling of butterflies or even having problems digesting your food properly. This isn’t just nerves from the divorce but can be related to the acute stress that divorce causes. Experiencing nausea, stomach cramps, and bowel issues are all common during a divorce.
Weight gain – This is extremely common among people getting divorced. You get stressed and are looking for a quick release, but you have kids to think about so substance abuse isn’t your first option. However, you might turn to fatty foods that make you feel comforted, ultimately leading to your weight gain.
Insomnia – Getting good sleep is one of the best ways to reduce your stress, but stress can also contribute to lack of sleep. It is a vicious cycle you experience during divorce. Insomnia is not just due to the stress, but can also be from high cortisol levels during divorce, as well as physically being alone in bed.
Natural Ways to Relieve Stress
Since many of these issues are directly related to stress caused by divorce, this is a good place to start. Taking care of your health should really start with your mental health. Plus, stress affects your body and mind, so it is even more important to try and manage. The following tips provide easy and effective ways to relieve your stress in natural ways.
Take Relaxing Baths
There are few things better than taking a long, hot, bubble bath. However, it is isn’t just the bath that will help you relieve your stress, but what you put in it. Aromatherapy is a great way to reduce your stress, which uses the scent of essential oils to calm your senses. One of the best herbs to use in a de-stress bath is lavender, which has a very calming effect. Add a few drops to your bath or get lavender bath salts or bubble bath.
Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is often recommended to people who are having trouble sleeping because it is so relaxing. This is because the chamomile herb helps to relax your nervous system. It not only helps with insomnia but can help reduce your stress as well.
Try to Get Better Sleep
As mentioned previously, stress is often linked to not getting good sleep. If you are tossing and turning due to your divorce, there are a few things you can do. Here are some tips for getting better sleep:
* Have hot tea shortly before bed, as long as it doesn’t contain caffeine
* Start a new nightly ritual to relax your mind and body
* Turn off the cell phone and television when you climb into bed
* Try some nighttime yoga
* Get a new pillow and mattress
Follow a Healthy Diet
The food you eat isn’t just important for general health or to lose weight, but also because certain foods are known to help with stress. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and many types of nuts have nutrients that can also reduce your stress and have a natural calming effect.
Write in a Journal
Journal writing is very important during a divorce, as you will find out more in a later section of this report. It is also a good way to reduce your stress since you can release all of the anger, resentment, sadness, and other emotions on paper without feeling like you are burdening someone else.
How to Manage Anxiety and Depression
The next part of managing your health during a divorce is finding help for your anxiety and depression. You may have one or the other or may be struggling with a combination of both. These mental health disorders are frequently linked. You may have had anxiety or depression before your divorce and it is now heightened, or it could be brand new to you. These methods can help you manage your anxiety and depression without taking medications:
Do Breathing Exercises
When you have anxiety, breathing exercises are very helpful. They can help calm you down when you feel a panic attack coming on, but also help with a generalized anxiety disorder or acute anxiety. If you are about to head into court and start feeling your heart race and palms sweat, a panic attack might be coming on. Find somewhere quiet where you can do nothing but focus on your breaths, slowly breathing in and out and really extending the inhaling and exhaling. Count to 100 as you do this to start calming your mind.
Reduce Your Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Caffeine and alcohol can trigger both anxiety and depression, so you should be reducing your intake as much as possible. Alcohol might seem like it covers up the feelings of depression, but it is actually a depressant. As soon as you sober up, you will actually feel worse than you did before you started drinking. It can be difficult, but try to reduce how much alcohol you drink and instead find healthier ways to keep your depression at bay.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise isn’t just helpful when you want to avoid weight gain during a divorce but really helps with both anxiety and depression. When you exercise, your endorphins are working in overdrive, so they help to improve your mood and focus. This allows you to find some relief for all the fear and anger leading to your anxiety.
Give Yourself a Break
Don’t forget to give yourself time to just be by yourself. Divorce is an overwhelming experience and can often make you feel like you are constantly moving at full-speed ahead. Find some moments every day where you can be alone and simply relax and take a break without worrying about anything. This might be your nighttime bath when the kids are asleep, a few minutes in your car before you head into the office, or closing your bedroom door for five minutes so you can meditate.
Find Your Anxiety Triggers
If you have severe anxiety and panic attacks, you should also be looking for your triggers. There are likely certain things during a divorce that is causing your anxiety, such as when you have to go to court, when you speak to your husband, or when the topic of child custody comes up. Journaling will help you to find these triggers and find relaxation methods to help you get through them.
Tips For Avoiding Emotional Overeating
As mentioned previously, one of the physical effects of divorce has to do with your body and weight. You often gain weight because you are eating too much and not taking proper care of yourself. It is important that you really focus on your own health throughout your divorce, which includes knowing when you are emotionally eating and putting a stop to it.
Signs Of Emotional Eating
The following includes a list of signs that you are currently emotionally eating instead of eating for hunger:
* You can’t tell when you feel hungry or when you are full
* You often feel physically ill after eating a meal
* You were experiencing stress, anxiety, sadness or anger before or during your meal
* You suddenly feel better emotionally after you eat a meal
* After finishing a meal, you still feel hungry
The Dangers of Emotional Eating
When you are an emotional eater, the risk of gaining weight and being in poor physical health from all the extra junk food are not the only problems. This can become a bad habit that is very hard to break. Just like when people abuse drugs or alcohol, you find that the food satiates you physically and mentally. All that anger and sadness is suddenly washed away in pizza, burgers, and fries. Every time you grab a bag of chips instead of an apple, you somehow feel relaxed and like your stress has gone down. This is your mind tricking you, thinking that you need the food to feel better.
Tips For Putting a Stop To It
Now that you know why you need to stop this bad habit, it is time to start living a healthier life. These tips are going to help you stop emotional eating in its tracking, helping you to better manage both your physical and mental health during your divorce:
* Know what your emotional eating triggers are and try to avoid them
* Pay close attention to the signs that your body is hungry, and not your mind
* Never eat a meal when you are sad, angry, irritated, or bored
* Drink a full glass of water before each meal to decide if you really are hungry
* Force yourself to only eat meals and snacks at the kitchen table
* Try to find other activities that help occupy your mind
Journal Writing For Coping With Divorce
Journaling is another good practice to start doing when you are going through a divorce. Like many other tips here, it is going to help your emotional and physical health. Physically, journaling can help you write down what you are eating and drinking so you can monitor your weight and avoid any late-night binges. It also lets you see if you are struggling with insomnia, digestive issues, or immune system problems by recording how you feel each day. It also helps you emotionally by letting you vent your frustrations, work out things you have bottled up in your mind, and have a point of reference to show your counsellor if you see one during the divorce.
Another benefit of keeping a journal is that it becomes a diary of events that occur during the divorce. This might be needed for multiple reasons. For one thing, if you end up going to court for your divorce, your lawyer can use your journal as evidence of what you have been put through, without struggling to remember facts, dates, and times on your own. It is also good to have simply to reflect on about the journey you have gone through.
Try to record everything during your divorce, from keeping daily food and exercise journals, to writing down your fears and thoughts, expressing your feelings, and writing notes about how you feel each day. Also, record any important events that occur with the divorce itself.
Tips For Journaling
* Get a quality journal that makes you want to write in it every day
* Have a journal that is small enough to fit in your purse or suitcase
* Bring it everywhere with you so you can take notes whenever necessary
* Try the method of bullet journaling, where you have an index and different sections of the journal for important notes
* Record anything and everything that occurs each day, leaving out no details
Get Plenty of Exercise Throughout the Process
Maintaining your health during a divorce is easier when you are getting regular physical activity. It can be tempting to lie in bed all day and feel sorry for yourself but try to avoid this bad habit. Give yourself a couple of days to wallow, then get out of bed and get back to your regular routine. It is important for you to maintain your sanity and can also help if you have kids in the house. Exercising is also going to help release natural chemicals in your brain and body that improve your mood, increase your energy, reduce your stress, and just make you feel better overall.
Here are some different fitness ideas you might want to try out during your divorce:
Join a local gym. This is one of the easiest ways to start a new fitness routine. It gets you out of the house, lets you meet new people, and has all of the equipment and classes you could possibly need for a regular fitness routine.
Try a cardio barre class. Cardio barre is based on both aerobics and ballet workouts. These classes typically have a room similar to a ballet class with bars and mirrors on all walls. You will learn classic ballet moves as well as get a great cardio workout.
Take yoga or Pilates. Both of these exercises not only help you get in good physical shape, but they are really good for relaxing you and reducing your stress levels. Yoga especially will teach you breathing exercises and help you meditate so that you can have a relaxed mind and a fit body.
Give swimming aerobics a try. Swimming is a lot of fun and a good alternative exercise to try out if you’re not a gym person and you hate going on walks. Whether you go to a local leisure centre or have a pool in your own backyard, there are a lot of exercises you can do in a swimming pool.
Take your dogs and kids on walks. Get your family together during this difficult time to go outdoors and workout. Your kids are likely going through a hard time too, so it helps to spend more quality time with them. Go on a walk each evening after dinner or take them hiking during the weekend.
Try an exercise you have never done before. This is the perfect opportunity to be adventurous and do an activity you have never done before. If it is something your spouse would not have enjoyed, even better! This is your time to be independent and make your own choices. If your ex-spouse hated the lake, get out there with a small boat and try rowing.
Remember that divorce may be difficult now, but it isn’t going to last forever. Take care of yourself and know that one day this will all behind you and you will be a better, stronger, and healthier person.