Divorce is one of the most stressful life events you can experience. A divorce may make you question everything in your life, highlight your fears, and create an adversarial relationship with your former partner. Studies have shown that divorce creates more stress than going to jail or getting fired from your job. You are also far more likely to be depressed, get into accidents, experience anxiety, and be more vulnerable to mental illness. In addition to the monetary cost, divorcing people usually experience loneliness and terrible mental pain. What are some ways to make the stress of divorce more manageable? There are some proven coping techniques that will help you take care of yourself during this painful time.

Joining a support group can be a big help in reducing stress. Being with people who are in the same life stage can help stunt the loneliness of divorce. In addition, support groups can give you a chance to meet people and make friends that are not paired up in a couple or friends with your ex-partner. It can provide you with a circle of friends that can give practical advice regarding lawyers, child support, and other useful knowledge. A support group may keep you from withdrawing socially, giving you a safe space to laugh, cry, and share your feelings.

Set aside time just for yourself. This is difficult advice to follow, but allowing you time to heal, time to find a new balance, is critical in reducing divorce stress. These little breaks give you time to focus on a more positive future rather than retread old guilt over the divorce. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect. Don’t worry about what other people think ñ now is not the time to maintain your spotless home or impressive garden. Ease up on yourself and ask for help when you need it.

Now is the time to take back your environment. Do you still have photos of yourself and your ex-partner? Throw it out. Is something too painful to look at or use? Give it away. Just looking at these painful reminders will increase your stress. If you don’t want to sell or give away your wedding china or wedding rings, place those items in a sturdy container and put it in a closet. Wait a year or more until you have some distance on your divorce before deciding what to do about special, sentimental items. Change your environment even something small like buying new curtains or moving the furniture will lower your stress and improve your mood.

Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Right now, sleep may be difficult, but you function much better when well rested. If you are having difficulty sleeping, keep your bedroom dark, buy a new pillow, or take a hot bath before bed to relax. Eating a well balanced diet is also important. Make sure you keep healthy snacks nearby and be sure to drink plenty of water. Maintaining your good health habit will not only reduce stress, but it will help you fight the temptation to develop bad ones. It is so easy to neglect yourself during a divorce, but eating well, sleeping eight hours a night, and taking vitamins will all reduce your stress and make you feel better.

It is important to find the time to exercise. Exercise will improve your mood, give you energy, and use some of the stress hormones in your body. Enjoy a brisk walk through the park or other aerobic activity to burn off excess energy and enjoy the outside. Yoga, and deep breathing, is another good way to ease stress – just five deep breaths can make you feel more relaxed! Taking a new exercise class can shake up your routine and help you meet new people.

Don’t be afraid to pamper yourself. We spend so much of our lives taking care of others; now is the time to put yourself first. Indulge yourself by eating at a nice restaurant, going on a long vacation, or trying a new hobby. If you remember to take care of yourself first, you will have more energy to navigate the divorce proceedings and aftermath much more easily.

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