Top 10 Ways to Heal During Divorce
Divorce is such a drastic change. It can overwhelm the couple with the work, emotions, and challenges it brings.
In addition to working with clients to create their financial and practical agreement, I have also helped them through the emotional whitewater of divorce.
The process outlined below has helped many begin healing from divorce, get grounded, and regain their balance.
First, Recognize That Healing Is Necessary During and After Divorce
To start with, give yourself permission to heal. This usually includes being willing to set aside anger or bitterness. It could mean letting yourself start to believe that happiness can be yours again.
For some, the start of a new year is a good motivation for thinking about life and changes. However, don’t wait for a significant calendar date to begin this work. Today is the best day to start.
Gather Writing Supplies
Gather a few simple materials. Start with some paper and a pen or pencil. A pad of paper is fine. Consider getting a separate notebook, as plain or fancy as you like, to keep your thoughts together. Even if you prefer using an electronic device, writing by hand helps you focus, gives you time to think, and keeps you away from the distractions of the digital world.
Whatever format you use, be sure to keep your journal private, away from curious eyes.
Next, Set Aside Time for You
Set aside five minutes each day for writing. This isn’t a lot to ask of yourself because you are definitely worth the time. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day. Add this activity to your to-do list, or set a reminder alarm on your phone, watch, or computer to stop what you’re doing and write.
Some ideas for possible times and places you can find to be alone:
- Before you get out of bed in the morning.
- When you drink your first cup of coffee.
- During a work break.
- During your lunch break.
- Right after the kids go to bed.
- When you climb into bed at night.
Just Start Writing
On the first day during the five-minute period you set aside, choose any of the tips below. Write about how you relate to that tip. What are your thoughts? Anything that comes up is fine, even if what you write about is that you don’t know what to write about. Be honest with yourself. Don’t censor or edit; just keep the pen or pencil moving. If you have time and want to keep writing after the first five minutes are up, by all means, keep going.
For the next nine days, work your way through the rest of the list, writing about each tip. After ten days, start over and write about the first tip. After another ten days, start over again with the first tip. In one month, you will have a very useful guidebook about which of these tips you are willing to incorporate into your healing.
The Top 10 Healing Things to Do During and After Divorce
Tips for taking care of yourself during divorce come to me from many sources. I have compiled the ones my clients find the most effective in the list below.
- Take care of yourself physically. Find a way to release stress, move your body, and clear out your mind. Yoga, exercise, and meditation are great tools.
- “Fair” is a matter of perspective. What seems fair to you may not seem fair to your spouse or your children. Fair is a moving target.
- Wishing or hoping things or people are not the way they are is a tremendous waste of time and energy. Instead, focus on changing what you can change.
- For things to change, first you must change. That means doing something differently. Clinging to the idea that what you want or believe is the only way for things to get resolved is not productive.
- Your life and your divorce are different from your neighbor’s, your friend’s, and your brother’s life and divorce. What worked for them may or may not work for you. The decisions you are making are not subject to a “vote” from other people. Take their well-meaning advice as information only.
- When you forgive someone else, you are helping yourself more than you are helping him or her. There’s an old saying that is credited to a number of people: “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
- Accept and work through your feelings. Your emotions are your body’s way of moving energy. The more you push emotions away, the more powerful and overwhelming they become. Acceptance does not mean you agree with what happened, it just means you stop the struggle with your feelings.
- The only thing we can really count on is change. When things are the way you want them, be grateful, because they are going to change. When things are not the way you want them, be grateful that they will also change.
- Treat yourself kindly and accept kindness from others. Allow others to do things for you to reduce your load. Others who care about you will enjoy being able to express their caring in a way that’s practical yet meaningful to you.
- The right thing to do is the right thing to do, regardless of how hard it seems or how anyone else is acting. Will you work towards getting better or bitter?
The Gifts of Healing Through Journaling
You will be amazed how much better you will feel after only 30 days of focused and honest journaling, and only five minutes a day at that. You may find yourself more able to:
- Clarify your thoughts and feelings. Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.
- Know yourself better. By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you. This is important information for your emotional well-being.
- Reduce stress. Writing about anger, sadness, and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
- Resolve problems more effectively. Typically we problem solve from a left- brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
- Resolve disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. You just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.
- Find the Journaling Methods that Work Best for You
- Steps to Improve Emotional Well-being with Journaling
- Long-Form Journaling When Using a Bullet Journal
Photo credit: © Can Stock Photo / artursz