7 Ways to Manage Sadness and Anxiety During Your Divorce

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When you and your soon-to-be-ex were saying your vows, you probably didn’t imagine ending your marriage.

You’re definitely not alone, as more than 782,000 couples divorce each year in the U.S. That’s nearly 2,142 divorces per day and 15,039 divorces per week—or one divorce every approximately 40 seconds. 

Translation: In the time it takes one couple to say their wedding vows, another three couples end their marriages.

Yes, divorce is a stressful and painful process, whether you split amicably or you endure a long, contentious court battle. Either way, a split is a major life transition. 

Your family unit morphs into something new and different. If you have kids, you might not see them every weekend. You divide up your shared assets. You might sell your home and move to a new town. You might invest in career training and score a new job. Your financial picture might be uncertain. In other words, your future looks radically different.

You can expect your path ahead to lead to a happier and brighter life. However, as you go through your divorce, it’s totally normal to experience feelings of anxiety, depression, anger and sadness.  

In fact, if you’ve experienced depression before, there’s a nearly 60% chance you’ll experience another episode around your separation or divorce, according to a study cited in Clinical Psychological Science.

Here are seven solid ways to stay sane and centered during your split.

1. Engage in self-care.

The divorce process can be long, tedious, emotional and sometimes contentious. Your attorney will ask you to take various steps along the way, such as gathering your records or filling out your case information statement. That’s why fitting in self-care is a must, not a maybe. 

Self-care is a big umbrella, and the great news is that you can engage in practices that work for you. For some, it’s turning off their phones and indulging in a pampering bath. For others, it’s getting a weekly massage at the spa. Still others try a new hobby like painting, or enroll in an online class to boost their career skills.

2. Get in your sweat sessions.

No doubt, you’ve watched celebs like Khloe Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez show off their revenge bodies, post-divorce. Yes, exercise can help you get in better shape and shed some pounds. Even better, research shows that both high- and low-intensity exercise help stave off depression naturally, as your brain releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals.

3. Start a gratitude practice.

Yes, giving thanks is really good for you. During a time when you feel like your whole life is being upended, focusing on your blessings can help you more than you expect. A recent study followed people who wrote a few lines about what they were grateful for each day over 10 weeks vs. a group who wrote about daily irritations. Ultimately, the grateful group were more optimistic, felt better about their lives, exercised more and reported fewer doctors’ visits. 

It’s easy to start your own gratitude practice. Each night, you could write three things you’re grateful for each night in your personal gratitude  journal. Or, you could decorate your own gratitude jar: Write down what you’re thankful for on little slips of paper. At the end of the month, dump out your jar to see all the good things in your life.

4. Work on your inner zen.

A split definitely changes a lot of your status quo—and can leave you feeling less than centered. Regular meditation breaks can lessen psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain related to stress, according to researchers from John Hopkins University. Even better, meditation can retrain our brains, enhancing our self-awareness, sharpening our focus, lengthening our attention span and even improving our sleep. 

If you want to turn inward but aren’t sure where to start, tap into user-friendly apps like Headspace, Insight Timer, Breethe and Calm, which will lead you through guided meditations, some as short as three minutes long.

5. Connect with family and friends.

As you’re going through a split, there’s no better time to reach out to people you trust. Call your family members and tell them you could use their support, and even a shoulder to cry on. Don’t be shy about scheduling friend “date nights” at the bowling alley, a karaoke bar or a wine tasting. Bonding and laughing with your closest pals goes a long way toward banishing some of the divorce blues, whether you’re hitting a local flea market or a food festival.

6. Join a fun (and supportive) group.

Finding an activity you love or always wanted to try is a great way to take your mind off your divorce. Join a group using a site like Meetup, whether it’s hiking, cooking, running a marathon, painting, acting, writing, bird watching, singing a cappella,  or even learning to code a mobile app. 

If you love volunteering, look for local opportunities through VolunteerMatch or Points of Light, from your animal shelter to your food bank. 

You can also seek out a divorce support group, to meet people who’ve gone through the process or are heading into it like you. If you need extra help, talk to a therapist or a trusted clergyperson.

7. It’s OK to get help around the house.

You’re busier than normal, so don’t be shy about hiring someone to help you. It’s OK to need an extra set of hands, whether it’s a house cleaner, a babysitter, a dog walker or a lawn service. 

If you can’t afford to hire, see if your neighbors, family or friends would “trade” help. Maybe your brother helps you take care of your yard, and you take his kids out to the park one afternoon. When you’re newly single, you don’t have to do everything alone.

You may not believe it now, but you will make it to the other side of your divorce intact. Using these seven blues-busting techniques will go a long way toward helping you feel whole again.

If you need help with a family law matter, our attorneys at Keith Family Law can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.

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