- Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions: Feeling exhausted, sad, angry, and even confused is normal. You’re experiencing a huge loss, and grieving a way of life you had grown accustomed to. Change is never easy, but giving yourself permission to feel these emotions can help you process what has happened and move on.
- Open up to others about what you’re feeling: Reaching out to friends or family, joining a support group, or going to counseling can go a long way in lessening your loneliness. You’re used to relying on your spouse, but turning to other important people in your life and/or making new connections can help you move forward.
- Rebuild your identity: Divorce can make you feel like you’ve lost your identity but you need to remember the other important roles you play in life besides husband or wife (i.e. mother, father, brother, sister, uncle aunt, friend, coworker, etc.). Spend some time investing in your own hobbies, volunteering, and forming new friendships.
- Take care of your behavioral health: According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, divorce is ranked as the second most stressful life event. And with this stress can come feelings of depression and anxiety. If you have persistent feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, or irritability, or if you experience sleep problems or loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable, it’s important to check in on your behavioral health. Visit www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org for an anonymous educational screening for depression and get connected to local mental health and substance use resources in your area. If you have thoughts or feelings of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (10800-273-8255).
- Take care of your physical health, too: Not only can physical activity help you feel more confident about yourself, it can also help alleviate feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Taking the time to eat healthily and take care of your body can help you sleep better, increase your energy, and boost your mood. If you find yourself using substances to cope, you should reach out for help.
According to a study in Psychological Science, it may take some time to find a new normal but happiness levels tend to rebound gradually over time. Utilizing this period as an opportunity to grow and establish healthy routines and coping mechanisms can set you up for a happier and healthier future.
This blog post has been updated to keep links active, to use MindWise Innovations’ new branding, and to reflect current usage of the term “behavioral health” over “mental health.” Behavioral health is a more inclusive term that covers mental health disorders as well as substance use disorders, problem gambling, disordered eating, and more.