Life after divorce is a new world. Everything you thought you knew about your future has suddenly changed. You may have seen it coming but it’s still a shock when it turns into reality. Or you may be one of those women who was totally blind-sided and thrown into a life of transition in the blink of an eye.
Either way, to get through this time you’re going to need to take responsibility for your own survival. It won’t always be easy, but no one can do it for you. Help is good, accept all you can get, but ultimately your future happiness is up to you.
Here are seven ways that will help you survive the dark days.
1. Give yourself a set amount of time to grieve. I don’t mean a year or even six months. Take two or three weeks and do nothing but sit around the house and feel bad. Have a huge pity party and invite your friends over to gripe about your ex with you. (While your children are not at home.) If you need more than a few weeks, perhaps you should work with a professional to help you out of your funk.
When you feel like you’ve had enough of living in the darkness of depression, stop, and do the work you need to do to get past the pain. I don’t mean you’ll never feel sad again. Divorce is like a roller coaster of emotions. You’ll be up one day and crashing down the next. But after this time period never allow yourself to wallow for more than one day at a time. We have a “Get Your Happy Back, A Clear Path to a happy, fulfilling life after divorce” available in our membership area. It’s a 7-week series to get you back on the road to a happy life!
2. Get professional help when needed. This can be just for you or for you and your children. You’ll all need someone objective to talk to about all the emotions you’re feeling. Don’t let you or your children slip into a depression. Feeling sad is normal, but if you let it go on too long it can become something you can’t dig out of on your own. Don’t be embarrassed to get the help you need.
3. Start a gratitude journal. Every day write down three good things about your life. Some days it might be as simple as you have a roof over your head, food in the refrigerator, a bar of quality chocolate, a hot cup of coffee, a sweet puppy who is always by your side, or a big reminder that you have children who love you. Even when things are bad you can choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative.
4. Take up new interests. Join a book club, take a class, learn yoga, buy a bicycle, and learn to play the guitar, take painting classes, and start an online business or anything else that interests you. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. You’ll keep your brain busy thinking about something besides the “D” word and you’ll meet some new people.
5. Set aside a small amount of money each week for a special treat. If money is tight, this doesn’t have to be a big expense. It could be buying a bar of dove chocolate, a book at the used bookstore, and a drive in the country, a latte at Starbucks, or a matinee movie Do soomething to take you away from the doldrums and get you out of the house. Spoil yourself a little, but in a way you won’t feel guilty about later.
6. Move. Take a walk, go to the gym, walk around the mall, or find a hiking trail. I think a combination of getting some fresh air and enjoying nature while you exercise is the best combination. But if your only choice is to get on the treadmill then at least do that for yourself.
Get the endorphins flowing and you’ll start to feel a little better.
7. Get a massage. After going through a divorce I found it hard to get my mind to think of anything else. It seemed to scream “you’re divorced!” night and day. “What are you going to do?” or “How will you survive?” The thoughts pounded endlessly. One of the first times I was able to let go was while getting a massage. When my thoughts started to drift I’d bring them back to that moment. I’d concentrate on my relaxing muscles or on the soft, calming music. You may find another way that works better for you but this one worked for me. Some people use mediation CD’s in the same way. Find something that helps you clear your mind and relax.
8. Focus on Happy…what we focus on grows in our lives, so focus on being HAPPY. My friend, Greg, had lost a great deal of money during the market crash, and had to let go about 20 employees, and he was so depressed he could barely move. At the suggestion of his life coach (which I highly recommend!) Greg put sticky notes all over his house that said one word “HAPPY”! He put them on his bathroom mirror, on his computer monitor, on his nightstand, refrigerator and more! And guess what? What he focused on grew in his life, and he found his happy place again! So, head out to Office Depot and get yourself some sticky notes!
Don’t make your ride on the pity train an extended vacation. Feel sorry for yourself, cry your eyes out, unload on your friends, and then disembark and leave the station. I know this is hard. I’ve been there. But you can’t move forward if you wallow in the past. Move into the now…the present moment and live in gratitude. Celebrate little victories every day.
These are just a few examples. You’ll find your own ways of dealing with your time of transition. Choose ways that make you healthier and more self-reliant.