Tips for Suviving Your Divorce
Tips for Surviving Your Divorce
- Keep to a routine. If you work, all the better. (Don't worry about being less productive than usual.) If you don't work, even if you have nowhere you have to go and nothing that must be done, make up a sequence of activities for that day and do each one of them. It helps to keep busy.
- Exercise. Jog, power walk, do yoga, walk your dog, spin, ride your bike, lift weights, or do anything that gets you moving. Physical activity counteracts the lethargy of depression, releases endorphins, and interrupts the downward spiral of depression.
- Breathe. In deeply and out fully. With intention.
- Keep up your appearance. When you're feeling depressed, it doesn't help to look in the mirror and see a reflection that looks so bad that it reinforces how bad you feel. Wear decent-looking clothes, wash your face, fix your hair.
- Keep in contact with friends or family. Make plans so that you go out now and then. To be with other people gets you out of yourself, interrupts the wallowing, and helps you feel less isolated and alone. Especially on birthdays, holidays, and days with significance for you, be sure to make plans to be with others.
- Make sure you have at least one person that you can call when you're feeling especially sad and depressed. It needs to be someone with whom you don't have to "put a good face on it," don't have to pretend, can be just as you are and feel accepted and supported. Set it up ahead of time so it's in place when you need it.
- Do NOT listen to pop/rock/country music on the radio. The songs are full of love-gone-bad. It'll just make you feel worse. Tune into the classical stations instead, such as 105.1 FM or 91.5 FM.
- Be good to yourself. Do the things that please you, that distract you from the pain, even if only for a few minutes. Things like taking a bath, going for a walk, looking at the ocean, going to a movie, etc.
- Be around people without needing to interact with them. Sit on the beach; sit at a coffee house. It will make you feel less alone.
- As best you can, stop the mind games. "If only I had...." And "Does what I'm seeing mean that he/she can change" are only ways of torturing yourself and fueling the feelings of ambivalence. They serve no positive purpose.
- Do not self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs. They will only make you feel worse. Using alcohol, which is a depressant, at a time when you are already depressed, will make you feel more depressed.
- Connect with a sense of spirituality. By this I mean having the faith that you are connected to something greater than yourself. Whether it's a sense that there is order in the universe, a Higher Power, a center within yourself from which your strength springs, God as you know him, or Buddha. It doesn't matter. Spirituality provides a sense of comfort. You are not all alone.
Incorporating these strategies into your daily life will make you feel better and help you cope but it won't just happen. You need to make the effort to make it happen.
Maxine Cohen is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is in private practice in Newport Beach and can be reached at 949-644-6435 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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