Whether your divorce involves a crazy restraining order debacle or an amicable conscious uncoupling, divorce sucks. Ugh. I remember those months after my ex and I separated, I didn't even want to get out of bed. I watched hours and hours of Downton Abbey because what's the point? I knew once I got up, my life will be forever changed, I'd have to take responsibility for my life and I had absolutely no idea what that actually meant or where to go next.
Fortunately, I found a way to get through this alive and it started with taking care of me. Self-care is essential to divorce recovery and to your mental health. During this time, we treat ourselves pretty badly and the first thing to drop off is our health. We can develop depression and anxiety because we've completely lost our identity and the life that we once knew. We start to make decisions that are easy because we're just trying to survive. Truth is, if you can't provide loving support and make healthy choices for yourself, you're not going to be able to survive at all. Choosing me was the best decision I ever made. It gave me the strength and courage to get up every morning and live because I was worth it. It takes work but you can get there too. I've provided a few tips to help you amp up your self-care game while in the trenches of a divorce.
It's All In The Plan.
No matter how strong you think you are, divorce can kick your ass. It can wreak havoc on your confidence, your stress levels, and your diet. What happens when you're under a ton of stress and you need to decide on dinner? You choose whatever is easiest and most likely incredibly unhealthy. It's important to be able to fuel yourself with the right foods to be able to stay strong during this time. It doesn't mean you need to do a complete upheaval of your diet, you just need to start small. Start looking at what you're putting in your body each time you sit down to eat. Ask yourself are you making a healthy choice that serves you? Or are you just eating the deep & delicious cake because you just want to heal the pain?
One of the best things I've added to my self-care routine is meal planning. It literally changed my life. I was able to find delicious recipes, plan them into my week, and it eliminated any agony when it came to deciding what to make for dinner. It became part of my Sunday self-care, I would pour a glass of wine, put on some jazz and plan my healthy meals for the week. If I couldn't control what was going on in my life - I sure as hell was going to control what I was putting into my body. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be able to make the right choices for me in all parts of my life. You win two-fold with this meal planning strategy - less stress, better mood, clearer mind, and smaller waist line.
If It Feels Good, Move It.
I know, I know - adding in more exercise into your life sounds like torture but you should never feel forced to do anything. I have exciting news for you, there is more to movement than blood sweat and tears! It may surprise you that moving your body can actually be fun and not a form of self-destructive punishment.
Movement can be something that lights you up, creates space, and motivates you to keep going, again and again. It relieves stress and nourishes your body when it's going through some hard shit. You're also going to build confidence in yourself because you'll start seeing positive changes in your body. This positive change will spill into other areas in your life and will gradually help you get out of that deep dark hole that you've been stuck in. Again, you don't need to start running 5K tomorrow morning, START SMALL. If you don't, you can forget about working out because you'll quit before you even put on your sneakers.
Not everyone enjoys running, lifting weights or walking so you need to find an activity that makes you feel good. It needs to be something you actually enjoy doing and encourages you to keep going. Is it dancing naked in your living room? Hot yoga (with your heat on high) in the morning? Walking through the local forest with your pup? Doing a major clean of your house? Whatever it is - if it feels good, move it.
Let's Talk About Mental Toughness.
Divorce is not something for the weak of mind and it's your job to do all the things to stay above the chaos. Trust me, it can get emotionally chaotic. Your mind needs to withstand the negativity that's going to be thrown at it, you need to be the warrior that fights it off.
Cultivating mental toughness is an important part of the divorce recovery process. Not only are you going to have your own negative thoughts flying around in your head, but you're going to have the judgments and perceived criticisms of your partner, friends, family and whoever else you decide to care about in there too. Your partner could negatively change their behaviour towards you during the separation process, and you might lose family or friends that you thought were so close. It's all a part of the process and it's not fun. I struggled with this the most because I believed I was a failure for not making my marriage work. I share this because I was confronted by a family member, asking me "why I couldn't make it work, I should try harder, I'm the one that needs to fix it". I felt angry, judged, and placed pressure on myself to assume the majority of the responsibility. It was completely unfair and uncalled for - but this happens all the time. My experience was undoubtedly easier, in comparison to others. I can only provide the advice to become strong in the trust you have for yourself and those that support you. You have to believe you are not your divorce and you are not your relationship - it does not define who you are as a person.
Learn What Lights Up Your Soul.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can derail you in your divorce recovery. You have to be able to be strong enough to focus on the task at hand - your happiness, your safety and you're well-being. But more importantly, have self-compassion. You're going through a crisis and you're not always going to be strong and it's ok to feel weak. Here's the thing, you don't have to do it alone and you don't have to be in fight or flight mode all the time. Find your tribe - the people who will support you and help you stay strong when you're about to break. This could be your family, your friends, or even a support group online. These are safe spaces to go when you feel like you're lost or don't know what to do next. There is always someone there to listen, someone who's gone through it (possibly worse than you), and someone to provide you with guidance if you're willing to hear it.
Take the time to breathe and find what gives you peace. This is incredibly important when it comes to self-care. Your mind and body need time to relax and restore to allow you to function at optimal levels. Finding peace means knowing what you to slow down, embraces where you are, and makes you grateful for where you've been. This could be yoga, meditation, going for a walk, making a meal with a glass of wine, sitting on the couch with your cat, or just taking a few moments to breathe. Most likely, you've lost what lights up your soul because you've been too worried about someone else's. Start experimenting with new activities, things you've always wanted to try, and you'll start to learning who you really are, what you do and don't like, and what you want out of life. Finding what gives you peace and joy is about nourishing your soul and finding what lights it up.
Give yourself the best chance in moving forward by giving yourself the love, instead. It's time to choose you, invest in yourself, empower yourself with strength, and know that you're not alone. Taking care of yourself is the best weapon against heartbreak. Be compassionate, kind, and loving because it's a long journey but you'll come out the heroine you always were. The difference is, you own it this time.
If you are struggling with your divorce recovery I'm here to help. I'll be your guide on the journey to becoming the heroine of your own love story.
Start your inner adventure here.
Lots of love,