Is the stress of your divorce starting to get to you, making you feel irritable, tense, and overwhelmed?
By Tracy Achen, Divorce Transition Coach
While you can’t totally eliminate the tension from your life right now, you can learn strategies to cope with the pressure and calm some of the inner chaos you're feeling.
The best place to start is by making sure that you get a good night's sleep. Your body and mind function best when they are well rested, so try to aim for at least 7 or 8 hours a night. A short little cat nap in the afternoon can also recharge your batteries.
Also try to eat a well-balanced diet with lot of fruits and vegetables, and take vitamins to help supplement what you’re not getting. Some studies have shown that taking certain supplements can help improve concentration and reduce errors and absentmindedness (symptoms common to divorce). This is something you can research and discuss with your physician.
Women spend such a big part of their lives taking care of others, that they sometimes forget how to take care of themselves. Surprisingly, by taking care of yourself first, you have more energy and motivation to take care of others. Indulge yourself. Even small things like a cup of cappuccino or a good piece of chocolate can help relieve stress after a hard day.
Set aside a space and time just for yourself to nourish your soul, which will ease your tension and help you find balance. Do what brings you joy, whether it be reading, gardening, crafting, or whatever.
While you may not think that you have the time, try to squeeze in some exercise. Take a walk and enjoy the scenery. It will boost your mood, energize you, and use up some of the stress hormones running through your body.
Deep breathing exercises can also give you immediate relief. Inhale slowly, expanding your belly to fill your entire chest cavity. Then exhale slowly and completely. After four or five breaths, you’ll feel more relaxed. Here is an additional breathing exercise for coping with divorce stress that can help reset your frazzled nervous system.
Yoga is also another method to aid relaxation and ease stress. Buy a tape and learn how, or join a class and make new friends.
The stress of divorce causes some women to withdraw socially. But you need to realize that friends are one of the great joys in life. With a true friend, you can talk about what you're feeling and even cry when it gets overwhelming. Even better, you can go out and have fun with a friend. There is nothing like laughter to wash away your worries and make you feel rejuvenated.
Keep in touch and surround yourself with positive, upbeat people. Good moods can be contagious and help you gain perspective on your life. So smile even when you don’t feel like it. You can fake it until it becomes a natural part of you.
It's time let go of perceived failures and stop beating yourself up over what you should have done. Since you can’t change the past, learn from it, and then focus on a future filled with positive thoughts and activities.
Don't worry about what other people might think. A spotless house, perfect kids, or pushing for a job promotion may be too much for you right now. Allow the kids to pick out their own clothes. Eat fast food every now and then so that you don’t have to cook or clean dishes. Ask the children to help dust the house or take out the trash. Asking for help may feel weird, but it can give you the time you need to heal.
Free from the strain of small distractions, you can focus on what really needs to be done. Make a list of what is important and prioritize. Anything that doesn’t affect your job, your kids well-being, or life’s basic needs can go to the bottom of the list.
After you've created you initial list, take the most important tasks and break them up into small chunks that can be managed in an hour, a day, or a week. It seems less overwhelming this way. Plus, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment as you check things off your list.
Changing your scenery also reduces stress. Take a different route to work, vary your leisure activities, eat someplace new, or schedule a week-end get away. All of these things can feel like a breath of fresh air in your life.
You can also get a new outlook on your surroundings by conquering and controlling clutter in your environment. Spring cleaning (any time of the year) can give you a wonderful sense of satisfaction.
Boosting your self-esteem and controlling your anger can also help ease the stress you're under. There is more on these subjects in the following articles.