The divorce process takes a toll—emotionally, physically, financially and, perhaps most importantly, mentally. This is why it’s crucial to ensure that your own mental health doesn’t suffer as a result of this life-altering transition.
Triggers & Timelines
Why is mental health such a hot-button issue when it comes to divorce? Aside from the obvious trauma associated with severing a substantial personal connection, possibly one involving children, there is the oft-overlooked issue of maintaining healthy habits both during and after this process is complete. Stressful situations can trigger everything from poor eating and sleeping habits to the elimination of exercise and indulgence of vices such as drugs and alcohol, as well as a tendency to self-isolate and shun support from outside parties.
While everyone’s timeline for healing is unique, there are certain common threads that tend to run through each situation, particularly those dealing with a contentious parting of ways. Delving into the past while attempting to negotiate the division of assets, child custody, or whatever the individual case may be, is a recipe for emotional upheaval, one made all the more trying by attempting to face it alone.
Whether confiding in a trusted friend or family member, joining a volunteer organization, taking up a hobby to nurture connections, or seeking professional guidance, it’s recommended that you share the waves of emotion you may be experiencing to navigate through the difficult times—with the understanding that these will likely come and go as your “new” life evolves and takes shape.
Letting Go & Moving Forward
One of the more common emotions felt during a divorce is bitterness, often characterized as a combination of grief, anguish and disappointment, marked by an overall inclination toward resentment and cynicism. Letting go of this is the central key to moving forward, rather than indulging the “need” to engage in counterproductive conversations and self-sabotage, fueled by a misguided desire to “win” the power struggle.
While these feelings may stem from a sense of unfairness or powerlessness over a situation, they can instead be channeled in such a way as to focus on those factors you do, in fact, have complete control over—things no one can take away from you, such as self-forgiveness, self-worth, self-reliance, and peace of mind that you are now firmly in control of your destiny moving forward.
Though it’s common—and encouraged, even—to reflect on memories from your past that may have brought instances of joy and happiness, there’s a fine line between over-romanticizing a less-than-ideal situation and developing a healthy sense of perspective. There are lessons to be learned in attempting to heal inner wounds, and such a process requires a great degree of time and commitment. It’s important to seek out love and support as you attempt to channel your energy into a fresh start, while periodically pausing to reevaluate your mental state and gauge its evolution.
Mental Health: Beyond the Mind
As you traverse this uncharted territory, consider putting pen to paper and journaling to explore inner thoughts and fears. “Cleaning house,” so to speak, can run the gamut from mental cobwebs to the more literal clutter that tends to accumulate from a life shared with one person for a considerable period of time. You may even find that extending this housekeeping to social media accounts, certain acquaintances, and networks is similarly cathartic is discarding past pain.
Finally, don’t overlook the fact that your own mental struggles may be transferred to those surrounding you, particularly your children. Make a point to project stability and routine where possible, offering to discuss their feelings and be a reassuring voice of reason.