Divorce stress can be more intense and overwhelming than daily stress, but with specific coping tools, you can find relief.
There are few things more stressful in life than going through a divorce. Not only is it a painful and emotional process, but for most, it’s also a logistical and expense-laden ordeal.
Experiencing high levels of stress while navigating a divorce is a given for most people. For many, it can make just getting through basic daily tasks a challenge.
There are some useful and proven methods that can help ease the stress of a divorce.
It’s crucial to understand the way stress from divorce can manifest. Knowing what to look for can help you manage the effects of divorce stress.
- Fear of the unknown: It’s natural to feel lost after a divorce and to worry about what we don’t and can’t know. Concerns about what life after divorce will look like are common and can run in the background unacknowledged while you’re dealing with the practical matters in front of you.
- Health issues: The constant and intense stress from a divorce can cause health problems, according to research from 2020. Inflammation, heart issues, sleep disturbances, and poor eating habits are common issues.
- Social concerns: People divorcing often feel like they need to divide up friends the same way they split up the assets. And what about family? Will your ex’s family cut you out of their lives as well? Will people look at you differently now? These are common worries that can stress your social relationships and change the way you relate to people in general.
- Feelings of failure: It’s not uncommon for people to feel that a failed marriage means they’re also a failure. This feeling can result in shame and low self-esteem, and lead to depression.
- Distraction: All these feelings can lead to being distracted and unfocused. This can cause problems in every area of life, including work and parenting — two areas that require a great deal of focus.
Most of us experience stress daily, and some of us have coping strategies to help us manage it. But divorce stress is outside the norm, with a level of intensity that requires some new and deliberate coping mechanisms.
If you’re experiencing stress from divorce, consider the following tips to help you cope.
Acknowledge your feelings
It’s OK to not be OK. Recognizing how you feel and examining those feelings can help you learn to manage them.
When a marriage breaks up, there’s a mourning period. It’s the end of the life you and your spouse once shared. Feeling sad, angry, disappointed, and scared is natural. Ignoring these feelings won’t make them go away.
Practice positive self-talk
It’s common when going through a divorce for negative thoughts to become overwhelming. You may think you’re to blame or feel that you’ve let down your family.
Remember that divorce is complicated and it’s never the fault of just one partner.
Try not to live in the past
It’s tempting to play the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” game with ourselves. When our present is really uncomfortable, our minds will want to escape to the past. And if you’re going through a divorce that you didn’t want, you’ll be especially vulnerable to dwelling on your past.
Let people help
The people in your life who care about you will want to help — consider letting them. Putting your discomfort and pride away and allowing yourself to lean on people you trust can be helpful for easing stress.
Consider connecting with others who are going through similar challenges. Support groups are a great way to build support and community around shared life experiences.
Some common divorce support groups are:
- Divorce support online and in person: Divorce Care
- Divorce support for women: Woman’s Divorce
- Divorce support for men: Mens Group
- LGBTQIA+ community divorce support: Rainbow Families
Group therapy may also be a good option to try.
Avoid the divorce diet
Too often we skip meals, overeat, or just eat whatever is easily accessible. Try to make a concerted effort to put together healthy, balanced meals, skipping meals full of processed sugar and refined carbs.
Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol as much as possible can also be helpful.
Healthy eating can also help boost your immune system, raise your energy levels, and provide the internal balance required to cope with the stress of a divorce.
Move your body
One of the best anti-stress tools is exercise.
Movement releases endorphins, which can help expend pent-up negative energy and allow you to focus. Whether you hit the gym or take long walks, exercise is one of the best options for coping with stress.
Balance your sleep
Aiming for the standard 7-8 hours as a goal and keeping a regular schedule can be helpful for easing stress.
This doesn’t have to be the “become one with the Earth” kind of mediation, but rather specific and deliberate quiet time dedicated to calming your thoughts and reflecting.
Effective meditation takes practice.
If you have racing thoughts and an anxious mind, meditation may initially feel like noise, confusion in your head, and pointless. But continued practice can help you overcome that and organize and quiet those thoughts.
Divorce stress is real and complicated. It can go beyond the typical daily stress we all feel in some cases, so it can require deliberate coping mechanisms.
Remember that stress can’t be ignored but it can be managed.
Using coping skills such as meditation and getting enough sleep can help you manage and ease stress due to divorce.
No one gets married anticipating divorce. Dissolving what you once assumed was a “for life” bond can be painful. But there can be a stress-free life on the other side, and coping with the stress of divorce can help you get there sooner.