Feb 23, 2024
5 Tips to Surviving Divorce
Divorce marks a period of profound change, challenging individuals to navigate through emotional turmoil, financial upheaval, and the daunting task of rediscovering oneself. Amidst this chaos, it’s essential to focus on personal growth and healing. This article offers a comprehensive guide to reclaiming your life post-divorce, covering everything from physical well-being and emotional balance to financial health and spiritual peace. By embracing these strategies, you can transform this period of transition into an opportunity for personal reinvention and empowerment.
1. Reclaim Your Body
There is no easier fix for relief from the emotional stress of divorce than lamenting with a bottle of wine, a pizza, or a carton of ice cream. They’re reasonably priced, easily available, and dependably comforting. You may not even feel up to your usual grooming standards — but you need to realize that reclaiming your body is crucial.
Your physical well-being is the cornerstone to having enough strength and energy to deal with your emotions, sort out your finances, find your spiritual center, and revitalize your social life. So start there. Start small. A walk around the block. A mix tape of dance music. Jump rope. Yoga. Anything that gets your body in motion, can also help you think more clearly and feel less tense. For inspiration, see the movie or read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She hiked the Pacific Crest Trail ten seconds at a time. Or check out Jorge Cruise’s Eight Minutes in the Morning for an easily adaptable daily routine.
Commit to taking care of your body. It’s relatively painless to up the ante incrementally: another minute or two every day this week, then another minute or two every day the following week, etc. It’s an investment that will pay off by giving you the fortitude to reclaim the other aspects of your life as you transition through divorce.
2. Find Your Emotional Equilibrium
The metaphor of the emotional rollercoaster is apt. Fond or fraught memories ambush you. You walk a tightrope, balancing your fears, anxieties, anger, and sorrow. You battle resentment while trying to keep your children out of the fray. No wonder you’re exhausted. You can tell yourself to get a grip, but you need not to contain your warring emotions but to put them in perspective. The trouble is that you’re at the wrong end of the telescope.
Now is the time to confide in a trusted advisor, a counselor, or a close friend or relative. If you have a divorce mediator, he or she could refer you to counselors, both for you and your children. Most therapists will charge fees on a sliding scale if finances are a concern.
Having a safe place and dedicated time to sort out your emotional turmoil offers you a reliable outlet to prevent emotional overload. The right counselor can be compassionate and dispassionate, empathizing with your distress while suggesting other vantage points from which to consider your situation.
You’ll need to make many decisions about how to proceed financially and logistically to safeguard your children’s future and your own. You need clarity and reason to make the best choices, so you can’t afford to allow your emotions to drag you off kilter. Sure, get together with friends to work out and vent; blow off some steam by shooting hoops or dancing the night away. But seek level ground as you forge ahead with your new life.
3. Recalculate to Reclaim Your Financial Health
Maybe you handled the household finances, or maybe your spouse did. Perhaps you shared the responsibility. In any event, the math has changed, and you need to recalculate. It’s overwhelming for someone going through divorce to contemplate daily expenses, but you need to do what you can from where you are now and start with the basics: a budget, a backup plan, and a buddy.
Determine your income and expenses. In addition to your ongoing monthly obligations, include incidentals such as lunch money, outlays for class trips, tips for service workers, and occasional take-out dinners. Hopefully, you’ll be in the black. If not, that will help you find places to trim costs. You can also re-evaluate other cost-saving measures (an extra week between haircuts, switching insurance companies or telecommunications providers for better rates, paying off existing credit card debt with 0% interest offers for balance transfers). Your budget is your road map for living within your means, which is crucial for your sense of stability and security as you rebuild your life.
The Back-Up Plan
You’ll need a cash reserve and contingency plan. Short of winning the lottery, there are only two ways to improve your financial health: spend less or save more. If your budget doesn’t allow for savings, perhaps you can barter your talent for event planning or tutoring for lawn work or haircuts. If working outside the home or taking on a second job is untenable, try creating a small business, calligrapher for hire, or consolidation consultant, for example. There are dozens of internet sites for resale of all types of consumer goods. Everything from designer labels to used computers to Pez dispensers. Some sites will even take care of shipping costs and labels. Be creative. It could be fun as well as profitable.
Don’t go it alone. Find a financial advisor whose credentials include divorce planning. Or you can find one on your own. At the Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, a financial counselor is integral to the mediation process. He helps you examine your options, evaluate the tax ramifications resulting from the divorce, and formulate a workable financial plan for the future.
4. Revive Your Inner Self
Expressions such as “keep the faith” or “keep your spirits up” allude to cultivating a state of hopeful expectation. That’s difficult to do when you’re in the process of divorcing. There are so many demands competing for your attention. It’s enough of a struggle to keep your body healthy, your mind sound, and your emotions in check. And hope may be in short supply.
“When we feel safe and serene, we can hear that ‘still small voice’ inside that allows ourselves to hope,” – William Dean Howells, poet.
That’s the key — to find a place where you feel safe and serene. Some people turn to churches, synagogues, mosques, or non-denominational chapels for sanctuary and peace. Others experience nature as their cathedral: the rhythm of the pounding surf like a primal heartbeat, the majesty of a stand of redwoods, the lullaby of bees in a field of wildflowers. Still others go inside themselves. They meditate. There are so many ways to achieve mindfulness: silent retreats, walking meditations, and Transcendental Meditation, to name a few. Nearly every adult and community education program offers courses in meditation. There are even meditation apps for smartphones and tablets.
Or maybe you already have a familiar place you find peaceful or have a practice of your own design from which you draw inspiration. If not, try a class on meditation or go for a hike in the woods. Join a congregation or download an app.
You’ll know when you find your way. You’ll feel unburdened, lighter, and buoyant because, as Emily Dickinson wrote:
- ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
- That perches in the soul—
Nothing will revitalize you more than having faith in the present and hope for the future. Keep on experimenting until you find your path to serenity.
5. Get Out of Your Rut and Into Your Grove
It’s easy to isolate yourself when you’re enduring tough times. You may not have the same social network as you did when you were married. Socializing solo may be the last thing you feel comfortable doing as you’re going through a divorce. But this isn’t about dating. It’s about getting out of your routine, having fun, recreating—re-creating your life. Mingle with old friends and meet new ones. Mix it up. Reconnect with neighbors or school friends. Find people in your community who share your interests on Meetup.com and Meetin.org. For sports and exercise buddies, try Smacktive.com.
Do that thing that gives you joy, the one where you are so absorbed you lose track of time. Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this condition ‘flow’ as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. . . . Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.”
It may be quilting, fencing, singing, or biking. Find your flow; if you prefer a company, find venues supporting it. Check your local paper for bird walks, art classes, dances, auditions, writing groups, climbing, crafting, and gardening clubs. Choose a challenging activity that requires skill and leaves you feeling energized.
Charting a New Course: Embracing Life After Divorce
As you journey through the aftermath of a divorce, remember that this is not just an end but a beginning. The path to reclaiming your life is paved with self-care, emotional resilience, financial prudence, and spiritual renewal. Engage with each step, from nurturing your physical health to revitalizing your inner self, and you’ll find strength and serenity. Let this guide be your roadmap out of the rut and into your new groove, where hope and renewal await. Embrace this chance to rebuild a life that resonates with joy, purpose, and fulfillment.