Divorce Survival Tips

Survive 'til You Thrive


1.  Make self-care a priority.

Fuel your body with healthy, nutrient dense food.

Get adequate sleep. If insomnia's a frequent problem, talk to your health care provider about options. Insomnia can be a precursor to, as well as a symptom of, depression.

If you're not getting regular exercise and your doctor approves, create an exercise routine you'll stick to. It can be as simple as walking for 20 minutes every day during your lunch break. Or if group classes are more motivating for you, check out the local Y or fitness center. Some employers underwrite memberships as an employee benefit.

Try massage, meditation, and other forms of stress relief that don't rely on chemical fixes.
2.  Learn to feel your feelings (instead of thinking about them).

Some people are good at tuning into their bodily sensations and feelings. They notice the tension in their necks or upper backs. They're aware that clenching their teeth tightly means they're angry or frustrated. They're adept at using this information to acknowledge their emotional responses to situations and to process what they feel. Emotions don't build to the boiling point or get stuck in place.

Others, particularly those who are bright, are trained to think about their feelings instead of feeling them. On some level, the "thinkers" believe that being in touch with their emotions -- especially the "negative" ones -- is dangerous. They're afraid that they'd sink into an emotional quicksand and never recover. But it's the feelings that you ignore, that you fail to attend to and learn from, that are problematic. If you can tune into your bodily sensations, identify the feeling underneath, and just sit with the feeling -- sadness, anger, sadness, loneliness -- without trying to make it go away, you'll find the intensity lessens. The more you practice, the easier it gets. 
3.  Ask for support from friends and family (but not from your children). It's important to maintain good boundaries and shield your kids from adult issues.

4.  Reclaim your "self" and heal your emotional wounds before seeking new love.  If you start dating before you've recovered, you're likely to attract the same kind of relationship that didn't work for you.
5. Do more of what makes you happy. This seems like a no-brainer, but lots of people get stuck in their victim stories instead of taking steps to create a new, positive narrative about who they are and the happiness they want to bring into their lives. Happiness isn't something you get from others. It's an inside job!

6. Accept what is, develop an attitude of gratitude, and learn forgiveness of yourself and others. I realize these things are easier said than done, but they're crucial if you want to create a new life that's not always getting hung up on the old one. If your attempts to achieve acceptance and forgiveness don't seem to be working, consider hiring a therapist or a coach to help you with the process.
7. Be curious about your contribution to the breakdown of your marriage. It may not be what you think, so don't be satisfied with the first answer that comes to mind.

-Did you prioritize everything BUT your relationship?
-Were you an ostrich, hiding your head in the sand and refusing to look at and heal problems in your relationship?
- Did you accept a toxic relationship because you thought it was what you deserved or didn't know how to create something better? What's that about?

It may take some coaching or therapy to figure this stuff out.
8. Contact your doctor, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner or your mental health care provider IMMEDIATELY if you feel like you can't go on.

Depression can be life-threatening, so seek treatment without delay.

There a variety of treatment options available. Some may rely on medications designed to balance your brain chemistry. Some involve therapeutic approaches such as talk therapy, cognitive retraining, eye movement desensitization, and emotional freedom techniques - or a combination of these options. Your therapist may combine one of these options with medication, or add in structured journaling or exercise therapy. Not every option works for every person, but an effective program can be designed for virtually everyone.
9.  Hire an experienced, competent lawyer to assist you in a traditional, adversarial-style divorce or alternatively, a collaborative-style divorce. If you aren't familiar with the collaborative approach, you can download an information kit from the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals website by clicking HERE. The kit is free and explains the advantages of a collaborative approach and whether it might be worth considering in your situation.
10.  Believe you can create a wonderful life if you choose to, whether or not your spouse is a part of it.


11. Have faith that you can bloom and grow in ways you can scarcely imagine at this point. Use this situation as a catalyst for transformation. You have to power to reshape your life and fill it with goodness.