Taking Care of You After a Divorce

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Divorce is never easy. Even when you agree that divorce is best – for you and your partner – you feel a profound loss. When you were first married, you shared dreams and hopes for the future, and, assumed that the rest of your life would be spent with your partner by your side. And now, all of that is in shambles. You need to find new dreams, new hopes and manage to carry on by yourself.


    Too often, when faced with the emotional stress that goes along with separation and divorce we neglect our needs – emotionally and physically. Sometimes we can’t seem to get past the relationship and continue to dwell on it and the loss. Sometimes we simply don’t know or remember how to be single. Sometimes we feel like a failure. No matter how you may be feeling, once the decision to divorce is final, it is time to take time to care for yourself. It is time to rediscover you.

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    The following are ways you can refocus your life:


    Make time each day to nurture yourself. You can take a long bath, go for a walk, listen to music, have a massage or take a class. Think about what types of things make you feel relaxed. Go ahead and do them. At first, you may not feel like venturing out or even taking care of yourself. In the beginning you might go days without a shower, eat sporadically and ignore your own physical and emotional needs. But ignoring your own needs can add to your depression or cause you to get sick. Taking care of yourself starts with the little things, like making sure you eat right, get enough sleep and practice good hygiene.


    Make a change. Everything in your life probably reminds you of your relationship. You may have picked out the furniture and décor in your home together. You probably remember what clothes you have that your partner liked and didn’t like. Your hairstyle may reflect your partner’s preference. Although you may not be ready to make major changes (and probably shouldn’t) or can’t afford to start over, make a few small changes – change your hairstyle, add some of your own touches to your home décor, move the furniture around, paint your home or buy new curtains. Little changes can make you feel more at home in your surroundings and help you feel as if it is “yours” and not “ours.”


    Rediscover past interests. If you are like many people, when you got married you had some interests you gave up, or put on the back burner, to make time for shared interests. It’s time to get back and rediscover what interested you. If you have a hobby you haven’t worked on in awhile, start again. If you enjoyed going to plays and your partner didn’t, buy tickets and attend one. Doing something you enjoy helps you feel satisfied with your life.


    Learn something new. As you start your new life, think about what you have always wanted to know more about or know how to do. Adult classes, online classes and other community resources offer a large variety of topics you can learn about. Learning about something new gives you the opportunity to create memories without your partner.


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    Get together with friends. You are going to need some emotional support and your friends are an obvious source of that support. Make plans to get together with friends at least once a month, preferably once a week. If you have friends you haven’t seen in awhile, reach out to reconnect. Again, you need to create memories that don’t include your partner.


    Allow yourself to feel. When going through a divorce, you are going to feel a large range of emotions. One day you may feel great, another you might look forward to the new and endless opportunities your life now offers, you may feel depressed at some time and angry at other times. Accept that your emotions are going to be a roller coaster for a little while. You don’t need to settle on one emotion, just allow yourself to feel each one. Don’t berate yourself for anything you may be feeling. Be sure to find safe ways to release anger – such as working out, using a punching bag, screaming in a pillow or venting to friends. If you are having trouble dealing with your emotions or find that depression or anger aren’t going away, consider talking with a therapist.


    Learn to like yourself. Divorce can bring about feelings rejection. We see marriage as life-long and when it doesn’t last, we see ourselves as failures. If the marriage was bad for a long time, these feelings may have been building over months and years. We think there must be something wrong with us, after all, if we were “better” we could have made the marriage work. But the fact is, marriage doesn’t always last and it isn’t a reflection of whether or not you are a good person. Work on gaining back your confidence and believing in your worth. Again, if you are having difficulty with this, consider talking to a therapist. Accept that being alone doesn’t mean being you aren’t worthy of being loved. Take the time to enjoy your own company.


    Don’t date until you feel ready. As soon as you are single, you may feel tempted to get back into the dating world or your friends might want to set you up with other single friends. If you don’t feel ready to date – don’t. Take time to discover what went wrong in your relationship and how you contributed to the problems. Look over all your past relationships to see if there is a trend – are you continuously attracted to the same type of person? Examine the good and the bad of your relationship and decide what you want and need in future relationships.


    While it is important to make some small changes in your life as a way to feel you are on a new journey, put off making any major decisions until you feel you have healed. Switching careers, moving to a new city or jumping in to another serious relationship may all sound like great ideas, these often back-fire because important, life-changing decisions should not be made during times of high stress and emotional discord. Instead, put these types of decisions on the back burner. If you still feel it is a good idea in 6 months or a year, when you are feeling more emotionally in control, go ahead and embark on a completely new journey in your life.


Published On: May 21, 2013