April 23, 2014
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Coping with the stress of divorce

Going through a divorce can be extremely stressful for you and your family.

Strong emotions such as sadness, anger, and confusion are quite common following the end of a marriage, especially if you're grappling with financial strains or additional responsibilities around the house.

But the end of your marriage shouldn't mean the end of your happiness.

While everyone's divorce and the circumstances surrounding it are unique, there are certain coping strategies that apply to many people. Here are some steps you can take to deal with divorce:

  • Start fresh: Try to approach the situation and your life as an opportunity to start anew. Re-evaluate what you're good at, what your goals are, and how you can move forward to realize your dreams.
  • Talk it out: Talk about what you're going through with someone you trust. Whether it is a family member or close friend, the person you confide in can give you advice and also be an outlet for your emotions. If the confidant has been through a divorce as well, they may be particularly good to speak to.
  • Keep your routines intact: Although divorce has the potential to throw your daily routine out of sorts, it's important for you to guard against that, especially where the children are concerned. A familiar routine and stability provides comfort, and the more similar your day-to-day patterns are, the easier it will be to cope.
  • Communicate openly with your kids: Children are sometimes viewed as one of the casualties of divorce, but that certainly doesn't need to be the case. To ease the stress of the break-up on your kids, talk openly with them. Reassure them that they are not responsible for the divorce and that in no way does the split-up mean there will be less support provided to them. Don't hesitate to get help and guidance in how best to speak to your children during this time to avoid common pitfalls.
  • Look after yourself: While your kids' feelings are a priority, the divorce is personal in many ways and you have every right to dedicate time for you to cry, reflect, or simply be alone.
  • Patience is a virtue: Patience can also be a major virtue during this process. Take the time you need before making any major life-altering decisions, such as a career switch, starting up a new relationship, or moving to a new home.
  • Stay healthy: Just as your mental wellness is key to combating stress, so is your physical health. Be sure to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly to stay fit, and work off the stress in a productive way.
  • Stay busy: Being sedentary at any stage in life isn't good for you, and that may be even more the case when you're dealing with divorce. For your mental health, keep yourself busy socially and intellectually.
  • Be positive: In some ways, the end of your marriage may seem like a failure, but you shouldn't view it that way. If you focus on your positive traits and think of whatever mistakes were made during the marriage as a learning experience, you will be better able to move forward and tackle the future instead of letting it tackle you.
  • Plan ahead: When the timing feels right to you, it may be helpful to plan for your future. Because you're trying to make a new life for the new, independent you, create a plan that outlines your dreams and what action you can take to realize those aspirations.

Resources

Because divorce is quite common in our society, there are many professionals who specialize in helping people whose marriages have ended, and there are many sources of information on getting through divorce. Some resources you may want to seek out for advice, support, and general help include:

  • books
  • courses and workshops
  • family lawyers
  • magazines
  • mediators
  • psychologists, social workers, therapists, or counsellors
  • support groups
  • websites

With a bit of research, you'll find a compendium of useful information on stress management, relaxation techniques, and much more.

No matter what, always remember to deal with your stress head on. Bottling up your emotions won't help you or your loved ones.

 
Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team 

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