In this three-part series on redesigning your life post-divorce, Part One explored what is at stake and the damage high levels of toxic stress can have on your body. In Part Two, we discussed words of wisdom to help you cope with life after divorce. In Part Three, we are focusing on exactly how to redesign your life post-divorce and start your best life chapter yet. Whether you want to start a new career, travel the world, or find a fulfilling relationship, the possibilities are endless. You deserve to live your best life.
- Pay attention to how you’re feeling and what you need. You do not win a medal for trying to numb yourself or push through if you’re struggling. Consider what data you have access to that can paint an accurate picture of how you’re doing (your phone is a wealth of data like screen time, steps, or even doctor’s visits or comments from friends). Get help if you need it.
- Let go of what isn’t serving you. Spend an evening with a journal and yourself and make a list of everything that isn’t serving you. If it isn’t helping you to thrive, then add it to the list. Then once you have your list decide which of those you can control. As much as we all wish we could control others’ thoughts and actions, sometimes, you cannot so focus on the things you have control over. Once you have that list, I want you to write it on a sheet of paper and burn it. You do not need it anymore, so it’s time to get rid of it.
- Reclaim your identity. While a divorce can be painful and stressful, it is also an opportunity to start a new chapter where you become the main character again. Keep sight of who you are at your core and who you want to be. Reflecting on your past and understanding how you’ve developed the habits and patterns you currently have will help you plan your next steps for living the life you deserve. If you do not already have a journal, I highly recommend getting one or using one on your phone. It’s an excellent opportunity to reflect, vent, and have gratitude for how amazing you are.
- Self-discovery with evidence-based practices. Try new things you may have never done to see what works for you. Pay attention to evidence-based practices versus what someone told you to do on social media. Some strong starters are meditation, journaling, moving your body, gratitude, and deep breathing.
- Envision your ideal life. Remember how a few steps ago you reflected on your identity, your past, and who you are, now it’s time to really start to build your future. In your journal or use a vision board, and include as many details as you can think of for how you want your ideal life to look. Who is in it? What are you doing? Hang this on your mirror as a daily reminder of where you are headed.
- Give yourself a lot of grace. One of the biggest things you need right now is to have a lot of grace with yourself. You are going through a lot right now, so I want you to be intentionally gentle with yourself. In your journal, make a list of everything you are so grateful for yourself for. I want you to keep this list handy so that when you get frustrated or down on yourself, you have this reminder that you’re pretty amazing.
- Execute boundaries in every area of your life. This one is hard but essential. In your journal (maybe using the list of things you need to let go of), decide which of these you can address with stronger boundaries. Before you go down a rabbit hole of worrying if it will offend your friend or family if you ask for time or your employer if you don’t work 80-hour weeks, remember this is your life, and you only get one shot at it. Going through a divorce is a trauma similar to your body going through a sizeable medical event. You need to ensure that you set up lanes of what you need and explicitly and unapologetically communicate them to others.
- Lean into your social support. Be careful and wise with who you allow into your close circle of support. Make sure you choose those that consistently elevate you and are champions of all things you. It is a sign of strength to ask for help and get professional help when you need it. If you even remotely think you need it, talk to someone.
- Nourish yourself consistently. Your body is like a garden, so you cannot just plant the seed and walk away. Instead, you need to always show up for yourself to evaluate what you need and then make sure you give it to yourself. Your body and mind need your vigilance.
Divorce is undoubtedly one of the hardest things you will ever do, but you have to remember that you were amazing before you were married and will be amazing after. You have the strength, skills, and support to navigate tough times, but ask for help when needed. Be intentional in starting and celebrating your next chapter because the possibilities and opportunities are endless to create a life you have only dreamt about having.
About Dr Jennifer Ulie
Over the last two decades, Jennifer Ulie, Ph.D., has become a trusted voice and award-winning expert on building sustainable personal and organizational systems of mental, social & emotional wellness. Having presented to tens of thousands of professionals, she is a highly sought-after thought leader & public speaker for her wit, knowledge, relatability, and engaging talks.
Dr. Ulie is the founder and CEO of Mensana Wellness Solutions. She has been a teacher, professor, nonprofit founder & Executive Director, legislative advocate, school board member, and legal expert witness. She has founded, launched, and led countless stakeholder groups, coalitions, conferences, programs, and online courses & certifications.
She sits on multiple regional and national professional organizations, advisory boards, and boards of directors. She has published peer-reviewed articles and is an academic journal peer reviewer. Dr. Ulie has been featured on multiple media outlets, including CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, NPR, and PBS. She can be contacted at mymensana.com or on social media @mymensana.