How to Manage the Stress of Separation and Divorce
Divorce isn’t pleasant, but it does happen. And if you find yourself in a separation or divorce, you’ll probably feel some of the weight and pressure that comes along with it. Finding healthy ways to cope is extremely important.
Simple Ways to Keep Your Stress in Check
Life is full of stress. From health issues and financial troubles to relationship problems, we all face a long list of stressors that impact us on a daily basis. If you find yourself facing separation or divorce, you know just how weighty these situations can be.
According to a study from Gallup that looked at the stress level of couples, the process of divorce takes a mental toll on people. While just 38.6 percent of married respondents report being stressed, that number scales to 51 percent for separated Americans.
It then drops back down to 44.1 percent for divorced Americans. In other words, stress peaks during the divorce process and then drops off slightly after the divorce. However, even in a post-divorce situation, individuals experience greater amounts of stress than if they were happily married.
Much of the stress in divorce is rooted in the unknown factors that lie ahead. You may find yourself asking questions like: What will happen to the kids? Will I get to keep the house? Do I need to go back to work? What will my friends/family think? Do I have to start dating again?
“When it comes to divorce, what people don’t know can cause much greater fear and stress than what they do know,” psychologist Susan P. Gadoua writes. “It’s a scary time indeed and the outcome is in the hands of the professionals you hire, how cooperative your someday-ex will be, as well as how the laws are interpreted and how well the courts view your position.”
If you aren’t careful, this stress can become too much to handle. Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming overwhelmed:
1. Take Care of Your Physical Needs
The first step is to take care of your physical health. While it’s easy to let this go by the wayside, prioritizing things like diet and nutrition, hydration, sleep, and exercise will give your body the nourishment it needs to continue performing well. Not only that, but it’ll also empower you with the focus and confidence you need to handle all of the stress that’s thrown your way.
2. Avoid Making Divorce-Related Mistakes
Divorce is sensitive. Your outcome will depend on how serious you take the process. This means making good decisions and avoiding common mistakes that often entrap people during separation and divorce. Attorney Rowdy G. Williams sees people make two unfortunate mistakes over and over again.
“One of the biggest mistakes is not hiring an attorney soon enough,” Williams explains. “Most people end up hiring an attorney, but they waste precious time on the front end that could have been leveraged to put them in a better and less stressful situation.”
It’s easy to assume that you can work things out with your partner – especially if you’re both cordial and amicable – but an attorney plays a crucial role in the process.
“Secondly, far too many couples make deals with their soon-to-be ex without first consulting with their attorney. They reach unofficial agreements around the kitchen table without understanding the ramifications of these choices. This can compromise future negotiations once an attorney does get involved.”
3. Remove Toxic Relationships
Now is not the time to be surrounded by toxic and emotionally unstable people. Whether it’s neighbors who are trying to drive an even deeper wedge between you and your spouse, or a coworker who wants you to immediately start dating or make poor choices, toxic relationships have to go. Spend time with healthy people who encourage you to make smart decisions that are best for your future.
Adding it All Up
Unfortunately, millions of marriages end in divorce. If yours is headed down this path, it’s imperative that you take control over the elements that you can control (while leaving the rest up to the professionals who handle these situations).
By taking care of your physical and emotional needs, you can at least give yourself a chance of moving on and starting a healthy new chapter in your life.