Going through a divorce, especially if you are not the one who initiated it, is right up there in the Top Two most stressful life events. According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, the only thing more stressful than divorce is the death of your spouse. Dealing with a stressful event such as divorce, and the loss of the relationship that may have helped you define your place in the world, can lead to feelings of sadness and depression.
Pressing the reset button on your life after a divorce can be a challenge, but there are some things you can do to help yourself move forward:
- Grieve the loss. If you feel sad, feel sad. Trying to deny your feelings or stuff them or medicate them away with food or alcohol is just another way of kicking the problem down the road. Grief is a natural human emotion. You will grieve the hardest about the things you love the most. But the good news is, once you have taken the time to allow the grief to pass, you get a new start. You have given yourself the opportunity to learn whatever you needed to learn from the past so that you can get on with your new life after the divorce.
- Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the past. It is easy – and normal – to feel nostalgia for the “good times” after a divorce. But remember that your marriage has ended for a reason. Instead of focusing on what you lost, turn your thoughts to what you might gain, and then celebrate those gains. Maybe you can finally paint the walls the color you like, or listen to the music you want to hear while you clean, or take that trip around the country you’ve waited your whole life to take: the possibilities are endless.
- Express gratitude for what you have in your life. Are you alive and healthy? Are your children healthy? Do you have a job? Do you have a place to live? Do you have friends and/or family in your life? Make a list of everything in your life that you feel grateful for and keep reminding yourself about it. Expressing gratitude can actually make you happier and healthier, and ease the transition into a positive outlook for the future.
- Help someone else. Volunteer your time at a local community organization that helps others. Prepare meals for the homeless, read to children at your local hospital, or walk dogs at the local animal shelter. Finding a way to spend your time and energy helping others is an indirect way of helping yourself, because you are the one who gets to experience those feel good emotions that come when you are in service to others.
- Ask for help. Americans are used to feeling self-sufficient, and we tend to have the idea that you should “never let them see you sweat.” But when you are hurting, and you cannot find your way out on your own, it’s OK to reach out for help. Your request for help gives someone else the opportunity to extend the help that you need, so it’s a win-win.
Please note: While we are happy to share these helpful tips to pull yourself out of your post-divorce blues, if you find that your depression runs deeper than a reaction to your divorce, we cannot underscore enough the importance of getting professional help. Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling, and find a counselor to help you find your way back to your normal self.
At Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, our Annapolis divorce attorneys have the knowledge and skills to guide you through the challenges of divorce. Our years of experience give you an advantage during negotiations or litigation. To reserve a consultation at our office, please call 410.921.2422 or fill out our contact form today.