What do you imagine when hearing the call to “take care of yourself”? Maybe, a healthy diet, active lifestyle, relaxation, yoga, massage, and other pleasures of life? However, when you go through a divorce, you consider even such pleasant things indifferently or cynically. And the advice to cope with the painful divorce with the help of the new hairstyle and shopping seems just a mockery.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. Some everyday things and simple joys can actually affect our state of mind a lot. Changes in daily rituals, changes of insignificant (at first sight) habits may cause essential changes in our minds, and persuade us we start a brand new life.
But first things first. Surely, you should sort out your emotions concerning the divorce and calm down before you can really enjoy all these “treat yourself” rituals.
So, let’s think about how to practice self-care while going through a divorce, as well as how to prepare for the new life emotionally.
1. Speak to understanding people
A psychotherapist, a closed group on a social network, or friends who are entirely on your side – you need support and a place to speak out. In ideal circumstances, there should be several such places, since you will probably want to speak out often, and you shouldn’t abuse the attention of people who treat you well. Often, people keep all the feelings to themselves because they are afraid to annoy others with “nagging.” This is an understandable sense of concern: divorcing people often feel abandoned and left without support. The fear that friends and acquaintances will turn away from them is natural.
You can come up with the appropriate rules for your company. Someone arranges a “whining party” and warns the others that she/he wants to talk about the ex-spouse and separation. You may agree that at a meeting you spend half an hour or an hour on your experiences, and then you will change this subject and discuss the topics of the rest of the crowd. It is a good idea to tell friends about your doubts: “You know, you are my close person, and I want you to listen to me. But I’m afraid you get bored.” It is normal to agree with friends that they will tell you when they are emotionally tired and want to change the subject.
2. Do not satisfy everyone’s idle curiosity
Divorce is an emotionally charged subject. When it becomes known that you are getting divorced, there will be a lot of people around you wanting to talk about it. They will ask questions, often tactless or, at least, not supportive. You should learn to distinguish between people who are interested in your life and your condition, from those who are just curious, and distant the latter from your personal experiences.
Did you share your personal life issues with this person before? If not, the question seems to go somewhat beyond the usual relationship. But even if the questioner is your close friend or relative, you still do not have to answer if you just do not want to talk about the divorce.
3. Feel free to stop boors
If a person has already behaved tactlessly, for example, devalued your feelings, suggested that all the blame for the divorce lies with you, or asked about things that you consider intimate, feel free to scold him/her. A failed marriage itself is quite a traumatic event. Why waste your energy on those who do not care for you?
In short, if someone’s intervention, words, comments make you feel worse – tell the person about it. If he/she does not understand, increase the distance between you.
4. Do not conceal the divorce from loved ones
Divorcing spouses usually choose a moment that is suitable for “coming out” – for someone, it is filing a divorce petition, for someone it is the time when the couple separates. But sometimes, people are ashamed or afraid to talk about parting and choose not to tell anyone and keep up the appearance that they are still in a relationship. As a temporary solution, this can save you from additional burdens (discontent of the parents and relatives, inquiries, and so on), but when this situation drags on for months, it becomes unhealthy.
Firstly, giving the appearance of marriage takes a lot of energy. Secondly, it seems to keep the spouses “not divorced enough.” You have to come to visit together, tell your family how he or she is doing. So, it becomes impossible to separate from the former partner ultimately: the secret makes this connection too strong.
And finally, divorce is a social fact, so announcing the new status to the public is its natural consequence.
Think about what actually scares you. Are you afraid of judgment or disapproval? Or that this will be the “final point” of the marriage? Do you think that people will look at you differently when they find out that you are divorced? When you find the answers to these questions and analyze them, it may be not so scary to tell about the breakup.
5. Separate personal area of your life from the work
On the one hand, it is important not to hide your feelings and the fact of divorce. On the other hand, it is essential to separate different areas of your life and keep personal issues within the confines of personal communication.
Co-workers and other distant acquaintances, perhaps, are not the best candidates to unburden yourself to. Keep yourself from giving details of the divorce to everyone in the first days and weeks. First, a person in stress and grief (and separation, of course, is both) often confuses and violates boundaries.
Secondly, it’s good to keep one or two areas (work, training, something else) where your identity will not depend on your marriage or its termination. Divorce is such an emotionally intense event that it sometimes seems as if it absorbs everything. And at this moment it is very good to have some space where you will not be a “newly divorced person,” but a competent specialist in your field, an intelligent student or just a life of the party.
6. Do not force yourself to stay positive no matter what
There is no greater violence against yourself than to pretend that everything is beautiful, and you are happy with all the changes that are happening to you. Sure, you can see something positive in a divorce, but you now have a difficult period in which a lot of bitter and painful.
Divorced people are often advised to “not think about the past and move on.” How is it – not to think about your breakup with the person with whom you have lived for many years? And how to go further, if so far the future remains uncertain, and it is not clear what to expect from life? You have the right to be sad as long as it takes. At the same time, it is excellent if you want to be positive, but of course, some time should pass, and you should prepare for the new life gradually and in your own rhythm. Then, you will sincerely smile.
7. Come up with a beautiful metaphor
People who have abandoned abusive relations, often feel like survivors on the battlefield or warriors fighting for their lives. Those who have made some plans for the future together with their spouse, and then divorced, say that it seemed that they suddenly ended up in an unfamiliar territory where cannot yet orient. A divorce may be similar to a parachute jump from a burning plane, or like you almost got stuck in a swamp but got out.
Metaphor is not just beautiful words – it influences our sense of self and as if it draws a picture around us. Through this picture, we interpret what happens to us, analyze changes in our state and mood. Sometimes, this is the easiest way to sort yourself and your true feelings out. Psychologists often resort to the method of therapeutic metaphor for psychological influence on a person, building a dialogue with the subconscious mind.
8. And, finally, treat yourself
There are a lot of stereotypes about how freshly divorced women behave (for some reason, there are less such stereotypes concerning men, and they all boil down to alcohol or one night stands).
It is believed that they tend to change their hairstyle and fashion style, to go to a new job (or start working if they have never worked before), to begin to work out and to take care of themselves more. According to the survey conducted by onlinedivorce.com in California and a bunch of California travel companies, about 25% of newly divorced people plan travel, hiking trips, and cruises in the first six months after the divorce procedure is finalized.
So, these stereotypical patterns of behavior have a rationale: both men and women begin to think more of their own interests and rely on themselves.
Divorce is a difficult period when we can feel much less valuable and important. And it is very well to think about how to take care of yourself. And even better, if you remind yourself that this is a good habit, and you should definitely keep it and take it with you into new relationships in the future.
Where to begin?
Taking care of yourself is only what we plan on purpose, and not something that happens by itself. This is always our conscious choice.
In other words, if you do not consider something as care of yourself, then you will not get the expected effect. Be aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how you feel.
At the same time, if you have to force yourself to do something and you do not enjoy it, this activity cannot be considered as care of yourself.
What you can do for yourself:
- Write down everything you don’t like and what you don’t want to do. For example: not to check emails late at night, not to go to events and parties that you don’t like, not to answer calls during lunch and dinner.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Get enough sleep. An adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep per day.
- Exercise or fitness. Physical activity benefits our emotional health, as well. It increases the serotonin level, which, in turn, improves mood and adds energy. Remembering the rule of taking care of yourself, choose the type of physical activity that you really like.
- Do not delay the necessary preventive examinations and visits to the doctor.
- Do relaxation exercises or meditate. You can do this at any time of the day.
- Spend enough time with friends.
- At least one time a day do something to relax (for example, a short walk or just 30 minutes of rest in silence.)
- Every day, do something nice for yourself: go to the cinema, cook your favorite dish, arrange a meeting with friends
- Never miss an opportunity to have fun and try something new.
Schedule such self-care things for 15 days and compare your well-being and mood before and after this period.