For better or worse, marriage creates an identity and a type of stability over time. This isn’t to say marriage is healthy when these attributes are present. It does mean that over time we become comfortable and accustomed to the relationship even if it is toxic.
However, for bad relationships that end in separation and divorce, there is no instant relief from the marriage’s toxicity. The loss of perceived stability, identity, and security can leave us feeling stressed, vulnerable and cause emotional issues during a divorce.
We have gathered together the 21 ways to stay calm during divorce and reduce these negative side effects of divorce in your family’s life and how to come out at the other end a mentally healthier and stronger person.
One of the largest causes of anxiety when a divorce begins is not to understand the process. Even if your own parents divorced when you were a child, you might have been sheltered from all of the emotional and legal battles to come.
To reduce the stress of not knowing what to expect, try to learn as much about your state’s divorce process as possible. You will find that simply knowing the next step in the process can have a calming effect on the unknown. There are several books and online resources that you can research to learn the process in your area.
The thought of change is a great stressor on most of us, but the act of getting to that change can take the largest toll. The first step in keeping your sanity is to take a breath and understand that the divorce will end.
In the beginning, all of the responsibilities, agreements, meetings, court dates, and other obstacles can be overwhelming. By understanding that it is all a process that will end, you can relieve some of the stress of the unknown in your life.
No matter how angry or hurt you are during a separation and divorce, it is still alright to grieve for the lost love. There is nothing wrong with accepting that a relationship has ended with someone you loved, possibly have children with, and invested your time and energy over the years.
Allow yourself to grieve this loss and understand that you once shared a life together, no matter what happened to cause the divorce.
Read this great article on grieving the loss of you love relationship.
They say that love and hate are very similar in how passionate the feelings for both can be. In the end, hating someone will only cause you, and possibly any children involved harm.
This is not to say you cannot be angry and show it in a controlled way. Hate and anger are two different things. One is an emotion that you must work through within yourself; the other is a feeling that lingers and causes you to allow the other party involved to keep control over your life. Resentment and getting even with the other person will only cause your divorce to last longer and hurt you more in the end.
Staying closely related to the subject of hate, let’s discuss why you should not try and exact revenge on your soon-to-be former partner.
First, planning revenge is a negative thought whose outcome may make you feel good in the short term but will probably lead to more trouble for you down the road. Courts look down on this type of behavior, and you could suffer the consequences if any harm or pettiness is proven to a judge.
Outside of the reason above, however, as with hate, your life will be consumed with how to get back at your ex and what you will do to them. You give them power over you with this type of behavior, and you will never emotionally heal.
Goals may seem a bit out of context when going through the emotions of a divorce. The truth is, by forcing yourself to set goals (even small ones), you will find your anxiety level drop.
The reason behind setting goals is they force you to focus on them, which in turn gives your mind something to do instead of worry.
To add positivity to your life, think of setting goals that will benefit your mental health, such as eating healthier, run a 5k, or saving money for a vacation for yourself.
Remember, they don’t have to be big goals, only ones you can work on and attain that add to your enjoyment. Things such as meditating once a week or talking to a dear friend can add positivity to your life.
This category is a little more complicated than the title. What it really means is to gain control of any finances that can cause you stress.
With so much going on to think about during a separation, bills can slip by and cause damage to credit or calls for missed payments. To reduce stress over money and whenever possible, list all of your shared debts and agree with your former partner as to what each of you will pay.
Read this great article on tips for co-parents on how to pay child support!
On the same note as agreeing on who will pay what bills, you can also use a third party to help keep track of your shared finances.
DComply co-parenting app was built to help people going through a divorce to co-parent and share expenses through the app.
All bills, paying child support online, and managing other expenses can be paid with the app. It also has a feature that lets you document away any disputes that may arise and easily track your expenses. Download the app for iPhone here or for an android device here.
Read this great article for steps to pay child support online to get started.
Many people have an opinion they will want to share with you during your divorce. All of them mean well, and some may even have the right advice. Our advice to you is to be leery of these opinions on what you should do.
Everyone’s circumstances are not the same, and every break up is different. If you feel confident the advice a friend gives you is sound, then by all means, accept it. Be careful not to get swept up in the emotions of someone telling you how you can get even with your ex or anything else that could hurt you and your family in the end.
The topic of being wary of taking advice takes us to our next topic. Your attorney has been representing divorcees for many years and may have your best interest in mind.
This does not mean they have the same goals as you. When hiring an attorney, make sure they understand what you want out of the divorce proceedings. Without being clear, they will follow their experience, which may not match what you want.
You may find that divorce is more stressful without a clear understanding than it needs to be.
Sometimes we just want to place our heads in the sand and tell our lawyer to take care of the entire divorce. This, of course, is not realistic. Not knowing what is going on can almost always be more stressful than knowing.
This does not mean you must keep up with every little detail of what your attorney addresses. It does mean that you need to stay involved in any decisions and know what the next step in the process is.
By staying involved, you will feel as if you have more control over what is going on in your life. This will almost always result in you being less stressed.
There are some people who will refuse to see a therapist no matter what is going on in their lives. Don’t let this be you. In this day and age, most people are over the stigma of seeing a therapist as we have come to understand they can truly help our family members or us.
Some therapists specialize in families going through a divorce. Available are three different types of therapy you can take part in.
Other than a therapist, there are also support groups for those going through a divorce. These groups allow you to speak to others about how they are getting through their days while dealing with divorce.
A counselor or therapist usually leads groups to keep the meetings on track and on topic. Below we’ve listed 3 resources to help locate a divorce group near you:
Even if you do not discuss your problems at a group session, just the fact you are socializing with others that are going through the same issues as you can lead to a positive experience.
Laying in bed, worrying about your future can take a toll on your spirit, body, and mind. To avoid this, try taking on meditation or yoga.
Both of these practices teach you to relax your mind. This comes in handy when negative thoughts continuously run through your head.
Besides clearing your mind, meditation and yoga are right for your overall health. Taking yoga or meditation in a class setting gets you out of the house and socializing with others.
Here are a resources to help you locate meditation groups, classes and online education in meditation:
One of the most prominent causes of arguments and stress during divorce is created when parents do not agree on the decisions each makes for a child.
To keep the peace and therefore less worry, make an agreement together that both of you will be involved in any decisions affecting your child.
As long as both parties trust that each will abide by the agreement, it will make for a much smoother transition through divorce. And remember, even after the divorce, you will continue to have to live by the same rules. It is easier to do it right from the beginning than try and start after the divorce.
There are many people who have a hard time understanding the concept of not using the kids as leverage in a divorce. Sometimes they may not even notice they are doing it.
This is because our lives can become so stressful during a divorce that we don’t see the damage some of our decisions can have.
As we discussed, you and your ex will be tied together through your child for the rest of your lives. Make it a point to promise not to use the children to get what you want out of the divorce.
Even the most evenly keeled person can become scatterbrained at times when they have a lot on their mind. This can lead to making choices in a hurry to take care of things as fast as possible. Which, of course, invariably leads us to some bad decisions.
We are dealing with events and decisions that will change your life forever. When dealing with decisions that are not clear to you right away, write down the question until you have the time to weigh your options and understand the answer you want fully.
Once you make a decision, it is hard to change it back once it is set in motion. Do yourself a favor and pause before answering too quickly.
Everyone has heard that you can only control yourself and your reaction to events, at one time or another, and probably believed it on some level.
In the midst of a separation and divorce, we tend to forget good advice such as this. The next thing you know, we are trying to control every decision and outcome. This doesn’t go against what we said earlier, that you should be involved. It means that there are some things that, no matter how hard you try to influence, will not turn out the way you want them to.
By realizing that you cannot control everything, you will be able to reduce much of the anxiety that goes along with trying to affect outcomes.
Discussing setting goals, we mentioned getting healthy. Exercise is, of course, a good tool for that, but it also provides a way to reduce stress.
Studies have shown that with at least moderate exercise, our bodies release chemicals, such as endorphins. These naturally produced “feel good remedies” create a sense of calm and euphoria after exercise.
Regardless of the benefits of the chemical releases, exercising is time spent where you are concentrating on the now and not worrying about the future or fretting about the past. Add in a group of friends to exercise with, and you have yourself a social gathering that makes it even better.
Those who are going through a divorce with children involved tend to focus on the well-being of the kids and ignore their own needs.
We are not saying to empty your bank account and take that around the world cruise you always dreamed about, but at least pamper yourself to a degree.
Going for a round of golf, getting a pedicure, or just taking the time to be alone and read a book can do wonders for your sanity. The more relaxed you are, the more stress-free you kids will be.
Living in the past and worrying about the future may be the number one reason for anxieties that build within us.
When you find your mind drifting into worry about what may happen or thinking on past regrets, consciously force yourself back into the moment of today.
By living each moment in the present, you will not give your mind the time or the necessity to ponder the future. Instead of sitting around worrying about the future, get up and go outside, play a game, or any other activity to keep your mind on the now.
Divorce can be a stressful situation for all parties involved. Separation and the proceedings of divorce can take several months and only add to the pain. By following some of the practices above, you will find that you can endure the divorce with less anxiety.
These ideas are not new, and many people have used them to get through and into their next life after divorce. Remember that this is only temporary, and having the tools to help you through it will greatly increase your chance of a happy ending.