Divorce can hit you like a ton of bricks. The last thing you’re concerned about is how to take care of yourself. Whether your divorce was mutual or sparked by one party, the stress and grief can feel unbearable. But you can get through it by following these eight ways to look after yourself during divorce.  

Why Take Care of Yourself First ?

If you’re going through a divorce with kids, it’s essential to care for yourself first. If you’re not able to care for yourself, how do you expect to take care of anyone else? Self-care seems like an obvious thing to do, but at times of distress, even taking care of your basic needs can be a struggle. But the longer you hold off on self-care, the harder the transition will be and the longer it will take to recover from your divorce.

Here are eight tips to make sure you take care of  yourself first during divorce. 

1. Don’t Neglect Yourself

It may seem obvious that you should brush your teeth, get regular haircuts, shave, shower and change your clothes daily during your divorce, but life-changing experiences can cause people to neglect themselves. Feelings of high stress and depression can lead to neglect, and neglecting yourself can lead to further stress and feelings of anxiety and depression. It can turn into a vicious cycle if you’re not careful.  

Especially if you have kids, you need to take care of yourself first during divorce. You don’t want them coming over and seeing that you’re in the same clothes you were wearing three days ago, without a shower or clean shave. You have to be strong for yourself and your kids, because how do you expect to take proper care of your children if you’re neglecting yourself?     

2. Exercise

Exercise is crucial when it comes to self-care, especially when you’re going through a traumatic time. Exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety through the production of positive hormones and neurochemicals, and also helps you sleep better at night. It can have help wit  onh depress ion and your mental health overall. Not only that, it serves as a distraction if you notice yourself in the constant cycle of grief, blame, and anger .     

Just make sure not to over-exercise. A good rule of thumb is hitting the gym daily for 30 minutes, or three times a week for 50 minutes. Exercising too much can lead to excess stress on the body in a time when you’re already physically and mentally worn.

3. Lean on Your Support Network

Having a support network, whether it’s a divorced friend, a therapist, a divorce support group, or all the above, is a key part of taking care of yourself first. Having people you can talk to who are going through a similar life-changing situation helps you  figure out ways to cope with your divorce, and will also help you realize you’re not alone, and that it’s possible to recover. It can be tough to  open up to people, but talking about how you’re feeling is one of the best things you can do for yourself during divorce. Keeping your feelings bottled up can lead to stress, anger and other mental health issues that can leave you worse off down the road. Isolating yourself can make recovery more difficult, so lean on your support network when you need to.   

4. Take Time for Yourself

Yes, it’s important to surround yourself with positive people and even join a divorce support group during your split, but you also need to take time for yourself. Filling your life with distractions won’t eliminate the pain, it will only hold it off until you start slowing down. Taking time for yourself can be as simple as shutting your office door to regroup after a long morning, or having a night to yourself where you do something relaxing that you enjoy, whether it’s reading, cooking, or teaching yourself how to play guitar.  

Find something that makes you happy and doesn’t involve other people. This will allow you to find joy being by yourself.  The only way you’ll be able to be happy with anyone else, whether it’s a new partner or even your kids, is if you can be happy first with yourself.  

5. Practice a Healthy Lifestyle

We already talked about exercise, but if you want to take care of yourself first during divorce, you have to practice an all-around healthy lifestyle. This means you need to think about what you’re putting into your body. At times of stress, it’s easy to pick up fast food take-out every day and spend your nights drinking with friends. And when you’re going through a divorce, the latter can escalate to the point where it’s doing a lot of harm to your health.

When you’re experiencing a life-altering event such as divorce, it’s crucial to practice healthy habits from the start. Fill your system with clean, healthy foods to help with your mood, energy, and stress levels. And although it’s fine to have some drinks here and there, turning to alcohol on a regular basis can turn into a harmful bad habit on your health, mental and social well-being.   

6. Focus on What You Have

There’s no doubt that you’ll feel a lot of loss during your divorce, but if you focus all your energy into what you’ve lost, there’s a small chance you’ll recover quickly from your divorce. Focus on the positive things you do have in your life, from your awesome job to great friends, to your adoring children. In times of devastation, it can be easier to focus on the bad, and although a divorce will never be easy, it’s important to be grateful for what you do have. Gratefulness can transform your post-divorce situation from hopeless to opportunistic.     

7. Begin the Self-Analysis Process

It’s easy to play the blame game during divorce. You can blame your ex until the sun comes up, but it’s likely that you played at least a small part in your marriage not working out. It’s important to understand the role you played in your marriage ending to grow through your divorce. This will help you not to make the same mistakes again and can also help you figure out what personal changes you can make  to live a happier and more fulfilling life.   

Ignoring the self-analysis process will leave you in the same place you are now, blaming your ex and not taking responsibility for your actions. It’s important that your divorce becomes an opportunity to shape and better yourself, rather than a negative life experience that defines you for the rest of your life.

8. Everything in Moderation

Whether it’s dating, exercising, drinking, or other harmful behaviors, practicing moderation is incredibly important during your divorce. It can be tempting to jump right back into the dating game, but serial dating post-divorce can lead to unfulfilling relationships you may regret down the road.

Activities such as dating, drinking, and exercise all work best in moderation.  Overdo it on any of them, and it can be disastrous. Even when you’re not going through one of the  toughest times, an excess of these activities can be harmful, so you have to be extra careful when you’re experience something such as a divorce.    

Divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances. Self-care is not selfish, it’s a way to survive.

There are lots of guys who could use these tips.

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(c) Can Stock Photo / David_Stuart

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