Divorce is undeniably one of the most challenging and stressful life events that anyone can face. The emotional rollercoaster, legal intricacies, and the sheer upheaval of life as you once knew it can take a toll on both your mental and physical well-being. As a functional health coach specialising in supporting busy, stressed high achievers, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of prioritising your health during this turbulent time.
Why is it Important to Look After Your Health?
Divorce is a prolonged process, often stretching over months or even years. The chronic stress associated with it affects not only your mind but also your body, influencing your life in unexpected ways. Failing to manage your health during this period can have significant long-term consequences, leading to unhealthy habits, mental health issues, reduced productivity, and even a negative impact on your professional life. It can also undermine your long-term health.
The Body’s Response to Stress
When faced with stress, your body instinctively shifts to survival mode, shutting down any systems or processes it deems non-essential. This is an evolutionary survival mechanism, evolved over millennia and designed to keep us safe. The problem is that it is designed to be a short-term response to brief, fleeting stresses like running from tigers – and not meant for long-term chronic stressful situations such as a divorce process.
In particular, when your stress response is triggered, it shuts down the digestive system, as the body redirects energy towards the immediate need for ‘fight or flight’. So, even if you make healthy food choices, stress will compromise proper digestion, leaving you vulnerable to gut-related issues such as bloating, gas and IBS, and long-term repercussions of gut imbalance such as autoimmune conditions.
Maintaining good gut health is also critical for your mental health, as it is now proven that the gut and brain are intrinsically linked, and imbalances in your gut can lead to or exacerbate a wide spectrum of mental health issues, from low mood and anxiety to full-blown depression.
Furthermore, stress disrupts sleep patterns, which not only impacts the quality of your day ahead but creates a vicious cycle. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones like cortisol, influencing your metabolism, promoting weight gain and leading to cravings for carbohydrates. This, in turn, further affects your gut health and exacerbates the impact on both your physical and mental well-being.
Short-term Coping Mechanisms have Long-term Repercussions
It’s very tempting – and extremely common – in times of emotional distress to reach for the comfort of sweet sugary treats, fast food, alcohol and medications. But whilst they may bring some fleeting relief, the long-term consequences can be significant and detrimental.
The Impact on Mental Health and Work
A recent survey into divorce in the workplace revealed that 60% of individuals undergoing divorce experience a significant impact on their mental health. Moreover, the stress of divorce can spill over into the professional realm, with 79% reporting that work is affected, 23% having to take sick or unpaid leave and many having had to leave their job due to the repercussions of divorce. It’s clear that the implications of divorce extend beyond personal matters, affecting every aspect of one’s life.
Don’t Just Push Through – The Importance of Self-Care
It’s essential to recognise that pushing through without proper self-care during this challenging time won’t work. On the flip side, punishing yourself with restrictive health programmes or intense exercise regimes is also likely to be counterproductive in emotionally turbulent situations.
Treating yourself with kindness, compassion and a more gentle nurturing approach to your health and wellbeing will allow you to navigate the challenges with more resilience and strength and will be far more effective and sustainable. And engaging in activities that bring you joy, practising mindfulness, and seeking support from professionals can be instrumental in regaining control of your health and wellbeing.
Moving Forward with Strength
While the challenges of divorce are undoubtedly overwhelming, neglecting your health during this period can lead to long-term consequences. Recognising the impact of stress on both your mind and body is the first step towards making informed, health-conscious choices.
By prioritising self-care and adopting a holistic approach to well-being, you can navigate the challenges of divorce and emerge not just intact but stronger and more resilient than ever before.
Remember, your health is an investment in your future, and during these challenging times, it’s one of the most valuable investments you can make.
About Jules Anderson BSc (Hons:1st). Dip (ITEC). CHHC
Jules has a first class degree in Chemistry, a diploma in anatomy & physiology, is trained in integrative nutrition and functional medicine and is a certified Metabolic Balance® practitioner. She specialises in midlife health and has a particular passion for enhancing energy, longevity and healthspan, enabling people to live better for longer.
Her approach is a combination of cutting edge science & technologies, natural approaches and behavioural psychology – to create vibrant health that actually lasts.
Jules founded Feel Glorious in 2011 and works internationally with individuals and businesses, including Schroders, Rathbones, Amazon, Shell Foundation, Telus Communications and WeWork. She has been featured in health publications including Natural Health, Health & Wellbeing and Time & Leisure magazines.
She is the creator of Thrive – a comprehensive health programme revitalising the health of exhausted professionals – to ease pain, reduce stress, renew energy and transform performance and wellbeing.