When you’re going through a divorce, you can find yourself deeply sad, fuming with anger or so overwhelmed that you feel on the brink of a breakdown. The intensity of emotions you experience during divorce can be exhausting. Powerful emotions can send our body into a state of fight, flight or freeze, which is probably not the best way to be when you have to make a number of life-changing decisions. So it is important to know how to emotionally recover from a divorce to benefit yourself and your children.
Although being triggered into that survival state is a normal part of what happens during the grief and difficulty of divorce, there are strategies you can use to calm your body and mind and reset yourself to a place of peace and stability. Here are 5 ways you can manage strong emotions when going through divorce:
This doesn’t have to look like 45 minutes on a treadmill. The goal is to get it done. Punch the air. Turn up the music and dance. Run up and down the stairs. Studies show that keeping your heartrate up for 13 minutes is enough to get your body to release stress.
Connect with supportive friends and family. Join a divorce support group and surround yourself with supportive people. Use words with your friends to help them know how they can support you, like “I just need to vent for a few minutes, are you available to listen right now?’
Take deep abdominal breaths – lay on your bed to practice getting the air down into your stomach and push your stomach out as you take a deep breath in. Drink a glass of water (the activity of swallowing is sometimes all you need to get the body out of fight mode). Take a hot bath. Cuddle up with a soft blanket or use a weighted blanket. All of these things can move your body from crisis mode to feeling safe.
Know what makes you calm down, including reading, getting good sleep, or journaling. Sometimes we need to parent ourselves like we would parent a tired child. That’s okay. No one else is going to do that for you, so you need to take care of yourself.
One of the best things you can do for yourself during divorce is not to make everything about the divorce. Only allow yourself to think about the divorce for short periods of time and make sure to set aside time for FUN. Seek out a new hobby or take up one you previously loved. Make it a goal to relearn what feels fun.
Often in divorce we feel there’s no time for anything except dealing with the crisis at hand. But divorce is about the long game, not the battle of the moment. When you’re committed to taking time to calm your body and take care of yourself, you’ll be able to manage the strong emotions of divorce and you and your children will thrive.
To help protect your mental health after divorce, trying to understand your emotions is important. Read our guide to how divorce affects your mental health for more.