No question about it, divorce is difficult. It’s a tough transition for the entire family, no matter how amicable the split may be. But a divorce doesn’t have to spell lifelong trauma. It doesn’t have to leave scars that you and your loved ones will carry, perhaps forever.
In fact, it is possible to come through a divorce stronger, healthier, ahd happier than ever. Best of all, it’s possible to shepherd your dear ones safely through as well. But it doesn’t just happen. It takes strategy, thoughtfulness, and, above all, a commitment to create the happy and peaceful life you and your family deserve.
Don’t Go It Alone
Taking care of yourself and the ones you love in the wake of a divorce begins by reaching out. No one can make it through such a significant life transition on their own. There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it.
The good news is that there is an abundance of resources available to you as you learn to navigate this new life. These include agencies to help you connect with legal affordable and accessible legal support, to assist in custody negotiations, and even to connect with mental health care and divorce support groups.
But your outreach doesn’t need to end there. In fact, it absolutely should not. Your most important asset when you’re going through a divorce will be your emotional support network — namely, your family and lifelong friends.
No matter how busy you may be, no matter how much time you might be spending focused on taking care of your kids, for instance, you must make time for yourself. Surround yourself with the people who give you comfort and joy. Carve out time each day to connect with people who make you feel good about yourself. It can be as simple as a 15-minute video call or a weekly night out just with the friends.
What matters is that you resist the urge either to withdraw into yourself and disconnect from those you love or else become so consumed in taking care of others that you forget to take care of yourself.
Practicing self-care when you’re going through a divorce isn’t just about connecting with the resources you need to smooth your family’s path or taking comfort in tried and true personal relationships. You’re also going to need some alone time, time to disconnect from work and simply be still, quiet, and mindful.
If you’re finding yourself suddenly confronted with the responsibility of being a single parent, for instance, you might be tempted to bury yourself in work. You may fear that your children will suffer if you aren’t constantly working. In some ways, it’s not an unreasonable fear. Studies show that mothers and their children are at greater risk of living in poverty after a divorce than are fathers.
But the alternative is not to work yourself to a husk. You won’t be doing yourself or your children any favors if you make yourself ill with overwork. And your work life isn’t going to benefit either — when you’re overworked, the research shows, you’re less productive and less focused, and you’re more likely to get sick and have higher rates of absenteeism. It’s a sacrifice with no real benefit.
Instead, educate yourself on the assistance that is available to help relieve some of the financial pressure. This could include anything from financial support to low-cost, high-quality childcare.
With less time spent on the job, you’re going to have more time to practice extreme self-care. Incorporating a nighttime ritual that is solely about self-nurturing and comfort can help you decompress, escape the worries and stresses of the day, and prepare you for the healthy sleep you need to start tomorrow fresh.
Ending the day with a hot bubble bath is the perfect way to soak your cares away. You can even make your own plumbing-friendly bath bombs infused with your favorite scents. Combine this with your favorite soothing music and a collection of kid-friendly electric candles surrounding the tub and you will have a treat to look forward to at the end of a long day.
A Family Affair
As you learn to take care of yourself in the wake of a divorce, you will also find that you are better equipped to care for those you love. An important part of caring for yourself and others is managing mental health, including learning how to detect signs of depression.
Changes in appetite or sleep patterns, for instance, can signal depression. Likewise, loss of interest in favorite activities or significant changes in mood or personality could be a sign that you or a loved one is struggling. And that might mean that enlisting the help of a professional is needed to help in the healing process.
Caring for your loved ones post-divorce includes not just tending to their emotional well-being but also to their physical and financial well-being.
For instance, if you have an older family member living in your household and they receive Medicare, they may need assistance in selecting a Medicare plan that meets their evolving needs. In the wake of a divorce, for example, the family may have moved to a different state, or the financial status of the household may have changed. This could require your family member to select a different Medicare plan, such as Medicare Part D, to ensure sufficient coverage in your household’s new circumstances.
Divorce is always difficult. But taking care to take care, both of yourself and the people you love, can help smooth the transition. Minding your and your family’s physical, emotional, and financial health will enable you and your loved ones to start over and move into the happy future you deserve.