Stress After Divorce
This is our last post in the series on managing stress after divorce in Arizona. Today, we’ll focus on techniques that can help you keep heightened emotions from getting the best of you.
● Coping with Divorce: Talk to a friend, join a support group, consider divorce counseling.
The end of a marriage can bring on the full array of emotions. For some, those emotions swing from one to the next like a metronome keeping time on the piano. Fear of the future, regret for the past. Anger and resentment for the events that led to the break-up. Relief to be free from day-to-day conflicts. Anxiety, grief, loneliness, distrust, guilt, sadness – all are part of exiting the life you shared with a spouse and transforming yourself as you move on with a new life. When child custody is contested, parents typically react very passionately. Suffice it to say that, under the right circumstances, divorce can bring out the best and worst in most parties.
Some level of emotional distress is expected in a divorce, but when strong feelings begin to affect your ability to function at work or to appropriately care for your children, then you should seriously consider reaching out for help.
When you need someone to listen without being judgmental, then talk to a trusted friend, family member, pastor, or participate in a support group of adults going through divorce. When you need more than a sympathetic listener, when your feelings are intensely raw and uncontrollable, then professional counseling may be the best way to manage your distress.
There are all kinds of counselors and all forms of counseling. Divorce counselors will not only give you an outlet to vent your emotions, they will teach you specific techniques for managing your stress in positive ways. Because these professionals work with clients involved in marital break-ups, they are very knowledgeable of each phase of divorce and how those phases can impact their clients.
There is a great deal of important decision-making in a divorce, decisions that will affect how you begin your new life as a single person again. Decisions over child custody and parenting time, division of property and debts, appropriateness of spousal maintenance, and so on. One of the many advantages to divorce counseling is that you’ll be in better emotional shape to make those important decisions. Instead of reacting, you’ll learn to manage your feelings so you can focus on the core issues in the case.
● Coping with Divorce: Be kind to yourself.
What do we mean by being kind to yourself? Avoid the path that gives you temporary relief through self-medication with drugs or alcohol. These habits can exacerbate emotional instability and be very hard to break free from. And if child custody is part of your divorce, those behaviors will work against you. Best to focus on sweating out your frustrations at the local gym, on the bike trail, in a mountain hike, or other healthy activity. Take care of yourself, eat well, sleep regularly, stay physically fit, and do those things that really nurture your emotional and physical self. In divorce, you really need your strength and ability to focus.
Divorce is more than a legal process, it is a time of personal transformation. Some change will come easily, like finding an alternate route to the office from your new apartment. Some change will come only with great effort, like working through a parenting plan or giving up the marital home. In every divorce there are things that must be let go. Talking to a close friend, seeing a counselor, joining a support group, and making the effort to get in better physical condition will help you move on with your new life during and after the divorce.