Divorce and depression seem to go hand in hand due to the resulting upheaval of a person's normal existence. Your day-to-day routine is gone along with your spouse. There's the heartbreak of knowing the future you envisioned with your husband will no longer be. Maybe you're trying to adapt to a new home and neighborhood. As a result, some days you might not feel like even getting out of bed.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and you can start to feel better about yourself and the life ahead of you. If you're struggling with the blues, these tips on how to deal with depression after divorce by Jennifer Horton can help.
Next to losing a spouse to death, divorce ranks right up there as one of the most stressful events of a person's life. It's a time of dramatic upheaval, uncertainty, loss, sadness that can shake up even the most unshakeable personalities. Divorce entails a great deal of life altering decisions as well as unavoidable changes in a short period of time that can ultimately lead to depression symptoms.
While depression has many faces, it also has multiple causes, and it's good to be aware of these causes if you are going through a divorce so that you can determine which combined causes where you can make reasonable adjustments to minimize your risk.
Some of the most common causes are:
Thankfully, depression is very treatable and simple lifestyle changes can offer a great deal of relief, in addition to professional help. While these things are simple, when you are depressed, it may not feel easy to do; however, you (and your happiness) are worth the effort!
When depression takes hold, a vicious cycle often takes place. First you feel listless, tired, uninspired, and lost, which causes you to be less productive, and then you feel worse with this list of things looming over your head that you haven't done. This is especially counterproductive in divorce when so many practical things need to be accomplished, and decisions made.
Make a list of everything that is weighing on your mind that needs to be done. Just get it out, and on paper. Next, schedule a time (be realistic and gentle with yourself) when it will be accomplished. Having it mapped out and documented in a realistic way that you feel confident about accomplishing provides a huge sense of relief. The trick here is to be realistic, gentle with yourself, and to not over schedule. Be sure when you are planning and scheduling to budget time in your calendar for self-care, or for the other tips on this list. The goal is harmony. When you are taking good care of you, you are feeling better, and things are getting done. (Notice the order of that: YOU come first.)
Get into motion! Moving your body boosts your mood, positive hormones, and positive thoughts and feelings follow. Also, increasing your breath has a wonderful therapeutic affect that helps to move stagnant energy. Again, be gentle with yourself. If you are not already active, start small and realistic. A 15 minute walk around the block is a great place to start even if you "don't feel like it". Recognize, that you may not feel like it; however, you'll be thanking yourself for it afterwards. Find your favorite, energizing music to help you along. Then when you go for it, congratulate yourself for following through!
In my most difficult times, I have found my gratitude journal the most worthwhile tool. When life is challenging us, it's easy to be focused on just the challenges of divorce and depression. A gratitude journal is there to remind us that there is another side to the coin. Not everything is challenging. Some things are easy, joyful blessings. We tend to disregard them if we don't take the time to consciously give credit to life's good fortune. Take a few moments every morning to acknowledge what is going well, what makes you smile and what you are truly grateful for. You are likely to be amazed at how much you really have going for you.
Tickle Your Funny Bone
Laughter truly is nature's medicine. It engages your lungs, increases oxygen flow, and massages your internal organs. Enjoy some laughs with your funniest friends, go to a comedy club, watch hilarious video clips on YouTube, ask someone to tell you their best joke, or watch your favorite funny movie. Do this (schedule it as I suggested) regularly to dissipate negativity, and ramp up your optimistic emotions and thoughts.
There is something magical about us as humans because we are hard wired to help others. I have heard it stated that one of the great laws of life is that you cannot help another without innately helping yourself. How true! It feels good to give! Call a friend and ask them if there's anything you can help with, volunteer as a Big Sister, help out at a shelter, or tutor a child who is struggling in school. When you realize how much you have and have to offer, your whole being is lifted up.
This point is worth saying again. Be sure to schedule time to make yourself and your self-care a priority. It may be as simple as making sure that you get your manicure or pedicure this week, scheduling time with friends, taking time for a nap, or giving yourself permission to just chill out. When you get back to your "regularly schedule program" you'll have much more energy and enthusiasm to bring to those activities, and you'll feel much better about it!
Nurture in Nature
Nature is a built-in rejuvenator that helps all of us let go of stress and get back to well-being. Flowers, beaches, fields, trees, animals, sunshine and fresh air all boosts us and reminds us that everything will be provided. After all, nature never struggles or worries. Nature just flows and you are a part of nature.
When you go out into nature you can even try this little ritual. Find a place and set the intention to leave your worries behind. You can dig a hole in the ground, mentally dump your worries there and bury them, or you can imagine a bubble or balloon that will absorb your worries and carry them away. Walk away and feel the relief knowing that you are always supported, loved and guided.
Here are some more articles that discuss other ways of dealing with divorce and depression to help you gain a better perspective and move on with your life.