How to Care for Yourself During Divorce?

Chloe O.
The Divorce and Separation Coach

Research shows that divorce is the second most stressful life experience a person can go through, just after the death of a spouse. Divorce involves a complex and unfamiliar legal process, extensive decision-making and overwhelming uncertainty. But it is also an emotional trauma, an experience that often comes with a sense of loss, bereavement for the life you had envisaged, fear of impacting your children and financial concerns. Managing the divorce process and all its consequences becomes yet another thing on your mind, above and beyond your professional and family responsibilities.

In this context, it is easy for someone going through a divorce to get so wrapped up in the logistics and turmoil of the changes they are experiencing that they forget to take care of themselves. Rightly so, many people prioritise their children’s well-being during divorce. But one must ask: can you be the best parent for your children if you are not standing strong?

Prioritising your own self-care is not an act of selfishness, it is essential to giving you the strength and resilience required to get through your divorce. In this article, I share 3 important questions I have asked my clients over the years to help them maintain a sense of well-being amidst all the changes and upheaval. What would your answers be?

Who do you want by your side?

They say you see people’s true colours in times of crisis. Divorce is no different. You will quickly find out who your true friends are and who you can count on for support, a cry or a good old laugh. Make sure you surround yourself with people who make you feel valued and who make you feel good about life. With all the self-doubt that is likely to creep into your thoughts during this time, you will need to spend time with cheerleaders, not just shoulders to cry on.

Be clear with your friends and support network about what you need from them so they can provide you with the comfort you want. It may be that you would prefer not to talk about your divorce when you are with them because you want to have fun and think of something else for a while. Or you may ask them to make themselves available to spend time with you at certain key times such as your birthday or wedding anniversary. Whatever you feel you need from them, your friends and family will be an essential source of comfort and joy during these troubled times, and they will provide a welcome sense of continuation and stability among all the changes you are experiencing.

What makes you truly happy?

While divorce is often a sad time for everyone involved, it can also be an opportunity. Anyone who has been married will know that it is not uncommon for individuals to

give up certain interests or hobbies during marriage, be it because family life took over or because their spouse didn’t share the same passion. Divorce is a unique opportunity to reengage in the activities that bring you joy. With most divorces ending up with some division of time spent with the children, you now have an ideal setup to use that time for activities that are important solely to you. So bring out that dusty yoga mat, the old canvases and paint brushes or that overpriced bread machine you never used and dive back in! You’re likely to find great relief in a few hours spent not thinking about your divorce, your kids or work. But especially, you will regain a sense of who you are and give yourself the greatest gift of all: doing things you truly enjoy.

What professionals can you speak to?

This might seem obvious, but many people don’t prioritise their mental health during divorce or separation. Ironically, it is a time when they need it more than ever. Therapists and Certified Divorce Coaches offer a safe and confidential space for you to explore the emotional impact of your divorce experience. A therapist can be a valuable source of support if you feel you have past traumas to explore or are experiencing guilt, anger, or depression.

Speaking to someone who is external to the situation can feel more comfortable than sharing your thoughts with a close friend or family member. Similarly, a Certified Divorce Coach ® is specifically trained to be non-judgemental and empathetic. They are there to help you set forward-looking goals that give you a sense of control and confidence. While psychotherapy is typically a backwards-looking exercise, coaching is all about creating building blocks for the future. Your Certified Divorce Coach ® can help you define who you want to be during and after your divorce and put in place clear actions to get you there. This will help you not only survive the divorce itself but also set the foundations for you to thrive at the other end.

These three questions are intended to serve as thinking cues to help you plan for your personal care and well-being during divorce. They should not feel like additional items on your to-do list, on the contrary, they are there to bring you relief from your to-do list! If this feels slightly overwhelming, you can start by experimenting with small easy-to-observe goals such as going for a 30-minute jog once a week or having coffee with a friend every Tuesday. As I alluded to earlier, being aware of the times when you are feeling most vulnerable will help you with scheduling your self-care activities at times when you need the extra boost. So have a think about what days and times are most triggering for you and plan accordingly. Is it right after dropping off the children at your spouse’s house for the weekend? On Sunday evenings? On Friday nights when you used to all sit together and watch a movie with pizza? Whatever the trigger, these times are opportunities to turn a negative experience into a morale-boosting one.

As time passes and you come out of your divorce feeling confident and supported, you will suddenly realise that you have created new traditions for yourself that will continue to help you stand strong for years to come.

Click here to read more by Chloe O.

About Chloe O.

“My name is Chloe O., I am an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) professional and a Certified Divorce Coach. I specialise in working with women to help them reduce conflict during and after divorce by improving their negotiation and communication skills with their spouse. The objective is to work towards an amicable divorce outcome in order to minimize the emotional and financial cost of divorce. I work with all types of clients but I have extensive experience in supporting expatriates and international families who are dealing with the unique situation of living abroad during and after their divorce, with limited local family support, language barriers and relocation considerations.”

For more information about my work and services (including my Podcasts, newsletter, myth-buster videos…), you can visit my website and/or follow me on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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