Getting divorced is never easy, especially if you’re dealing with an uncooperative ex. It can feel like your world has been turned upside down and you’re probably overwhelmed by all the decisions to be made. If you’re stressed out to the max, it’s important to have a strategy for coping with divorce stress to make sure you stay emotionally strong during the process.
Seeking emotional support from your friends and family, connecting with a divorce support group or speaking with a counselor about what you are experiencing can help relieve some of the stress you’re feeling. You can also manage your stress by getting enough sleep, exercising, meditating, and using relaxation techniques. The following article outlines a quick method for reducing stress when divorcing a narcissist, but the technique works for anyone facing the stress of divorce.
By Kay Hutchinson
You did it. You survived a relationship with a narcissistic spouse who often switched between the charming person that you married to the emotionally distant, cruel, and abusive person that they’ve become.
Often you feel exhausted, brain foggy and anxious - still reeling through all that you’ve experienced. Yet, you also have moments where you breathe a sigh of relief and think, “Finally I am free.”
Just as you start to relax a bit, your attorney informs you that your ex intends to ask the judge for full custody, doesn’t want you to have 50% of the house proceedings, and wants to block you from having a fair division of other assets.
You can’t believe it. Your ex just said to you a day ago, “Let’s just go to formal mediation and split everything even – let’s make this easy on ourselves and the kids.” You are completely blindsided.
Your stress and anxiety levels go through the roof. Every single moment of cruelty that you’ve endured in the relationship comes crashing into your brain, activating feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, and utter discombobulation.
A near panic feeling rises and threatens to roll over you. Yet you are NOT at the mercy of the avalanche of these feelings. But how do you begin to deal with this betrayal? How do you regain control of yourself?
Let’s stop the overwhelm right now. Here is a quick reset to help you feel grounded again:
How do you feel now? You’ve just reset your nervous system by helping the longest nerve in your body, the vagus nerve, to:
According to a theoretical review published in the journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,” a long, deep exhalation followed by shorter inhalation has a profound effect on calming the overstimulation of the vagus nerve.
When the vagus nerve becomes agitated by the stress of divorcing a narcissistic spouse (especially one who is using the legal system to harass us and make our lives more difficult), we experience:
But you don’t have to be at the mercy of all those feelings and health challenges.
No matter how much abuse and cruelty you have experienced, it only takes 3 minutes, several times a day, to start repatterning your nervous system to replace overwhelm with deep peace and healing.
Remember that your nervous system didn't become dysregulated overnight through your relationship with your narcissistic ex. So it’s going to take daily, yet bite-sized resets to remind your body and emotions that you are:
When you release stress through counted breathwork, you also create internal space to increase perseverance and clarity.
With calm focus, you can now lock arms with your attorney or work with a mediator to create a legal fortress around you and your children so that you can make it through the marathon of your divorce and come out on the other side intact and with the tools to build a thriving life.
Kay Hutchinson is the founder of Aiki Healing. She has been in clinical practice for over 20 years helping empathic women successfully navigate divorce and recover from narcissistic abuse with bite-sized resets from the medical qi gong system. She is the author of “Five Elements Healing: A Practical Guide for Reclaiming Your Power” and creator of the daily Clubhouse podcast, “Get Your Mojo Back: Quick Resets to Help Empathic Women Heal Narcissistic Abuse.”