It’s all been settled. The ink’s dry and a painful chapter in your life has closed.
But now what? How do you cope with the aftermath of divorce?
Sadly, divorce is common for many of us. The best estimate, based on projections, is 45% of marriages will end in divorce. But when you’re going through one and looking for support, it’s possible nobody in your circle really knows how to deal with it when it’s over.
They may say you should celebrate, but that doesn’t seem right and you don’t feel like it either. You’re drained.
Actually, the time immediately after a divorce is an opportunity to focus on you.
It’s likely the first time in a very long time you’ve been able to get the me time and self care you really need. If this scenario sounds familiar, consider these 5 tips to help you cope after a divorce.
1. Take Time to Process
You could be tempted to jump right back into life and stay busy. Be careful. This is probably not the best thing to do.
Filling up your calendar with work and personal plans is just another way to keep your feelings at bay. The truth is you need to take time to process, and that means slowing down.
Of course the thoughts and memories of your recent divorce are going to be painful. But the alternative is to stuff those emotions deep inside while you’re keeping busy…clearly not the healthiest way to move forward.
If it’s possible for you, a great way to take time to process is going on a trip. It makes for a good buffer between your divorce and getting back to the reality of life.
2. Rediscover Yourself
Oftentimes in marriage, it’s easy to lose sight of who you are and what you want. You’ve lost you. This makes sense, especially if you and your ex had kids.
But now there’s a lot more empty space in your life to be you again. Even if you have joint custody, you’ll still have some extra time to yourself.
Use this time to take care of yourself and rediscover who you are. Try these ideas:
- Think about where you want to be in a year or two.
- Reconnect with things you like to do but had to set aside.
- Take on a dream goal that you always wanted to do.
- Go back to school.
- Reignite a passion you lost along the way.
3. Surround Yourself with Positivity
After a divorce it’s understandable to feel sad. And while it’s important to acknowledge, feel and work through that sadness, it’s also important to surround yourself with positive people. Negativity has a way of amplifying itself when you’re with other negative people.
Own your emotions and don’t deny them, but consider who can best support you during this time.
Also, positivity includes your surroundings, the media you consume, everything. Think about what you’re watching, reading, or listening to. Does it promote negativity in your life or is it affirming?
4. Take a Break from Social Media
Continuing the negativity discussion, it’s helpful to take a break from social media and the internet. It’s so easy to get sucked into everyone else’s “perfect” life and the news stories that can have you in tears on a good day.
Social media and the web distract from your reality. But they don’t usually add positivity—which is something you need.
If you decide to continue using social media, be choosy with what you spend time on. Block pages and people to keep your feeds more uplifting. Consciously visit affirming sites rather than ones that drag you down. You’ll know best what those are for you. When in doubt, don’t hang out on a page just for a distraction. Or probably the best option – turn it off!
5. Embrace Your Emotions
None of these ideas will work unless you do one thing—embrace your emotions. So often the message is that you need to be in control, keeping your emotions “in check.”
Well, the thing is, the opposite is true. There are so many stages to divorce and to cope, it’s important to let yourself experience your emotions in full. You could be feeling anxious about the future or having depressing thoughts. Feel the need to break down and cry? Want to laugh about something ridiculous? Do it all. Know that it’s normal and exactly what you should be doing – taking all those emotions just as they come.
The more you let yourself feel all of it, the easier it’ll be to heal.
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Although it’s a reality for millions of people, divorce can be a horribly painful process. The aftermath of a divorce can feel as if your whole world has been turned upside down.
By following the suggestions above you can get through this. If you’d like support navigating this challenging phase and decide you’re in need of counseling at a practice in the Columbus, Ohio area, please reach out and contact Blue Boat Counseling today. Our skilled therapists can help you process your situation and figure out how to be you again.