divorce
[Punita Mangat | Photo courtesy of Marcus (@m.l.e.w.i.s)]

When your happily ever after becomes your the end, when you thought you had your whole life together but it was only a couple of chapters—it can feel like a never-ending spiral of an uncontrollable roller coaster of heavy emotions.

No two people experience divorce the same way but most can agree that it’s an extremely difficult and painful situation both mentally and physically. While you are busy filling out documents and figuring out shared custody if you have kids, it’s important to remember that a divorce can have serious adverse effects on your sleeping habits to your heart (big surprise there).

Therefore it’s imperative to pay close attention to your mind and body wellness during this time. And one way to take charge of your mental and physical health during a divorce is by knowing some of the conditions and working hard to prevent them.

ANXIETY and/or DEPRESSION

It’s typical for your anxiety to skyrocket after a divorce. The future you were so certain of and trusted no longer exists. You don’t have a partner in crime in this giant big bad world. There is a ton of uncertainty, which can lead to feelings of insecurity.

Some people feel like failures after a divorce and it can cause a spiral of hopelessness and cause depression.

This can be a pivotal moment in life for some to seek out a good therapist. It also helps to gain support from someone who is not emotionally involved in the situation. The insight that you can gain from seeking help can play a vital role in helping you understand yourself and learn how to avoid a similar situation.

DRASTIC WEIGHT CHANGE

Some people can turn to comfort foods during a stressful time, others lose their appetite.

No matter which side you lean towards, being in touch with the fact that this behavior is a side effect and not real will help you bounce back to a balance faster.

Psychologists suggest that we are the happiest when we savor things. For example, eating chocolate once in a while will make you happier than if you had it every day. To summarize, anticipating pleasures—food or other things will help you not get stuck in a limbo.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

If you were married for a long time, your mind can wander between feeling like you didn’t exist until you met each other and other times like it never happened. As a friend who was recently divorced said,

“You feel like a failure. You can take struggling at your job, health problems, money challenges. These are all things that you feel you can survive as long as you don’t have to do them alone. But losing your marriage leaves you feeling like you are without a purpose like you have permanently and irrevocably failed at the single most important thing in your life. You sit comatose in front of your television until the sun sets, only to lie awake at night listening until the silence hurts your ears. You cry until you dry heave. And after that comes the emptiness, both outside and in, that makes you feel how lonely you truly are.”

So it’s no wonder you find yourself coping with that loneliness and anxiety by becoming more dependent on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. According to an article published in Journal of Men’s Health, divorced men have higher rates of depression, mortality and lack of social support, compared with married men (unless you are a South Asian woman — that study might be flipped).

Nevertheless, the stress you feel from a divorce has the potential of causing chronic health and behavior problems.

When you are stressed, the salad is not calling your name, the wine is. You are skipping sleep which can add to your mood levels further. Understanding this possibility can help you navigate a little better. This is an important time to ask a friend to help you—go for a walk or a dance class; have them over for dinner so you can cook together; go to a gentle yoga class together.

INSOMNIA

You navigated foreign soil and slept on hammocks on the beach while the ocean moaned around you. You talked quietly for hours on couches, emptying bottles of wine and telling each other your childhoods, your fears and dreams, the little triumphs that made you carry on. You stood hand in hand at funerals, silently holding and caressing each other. You felt the gravity of joy during friends and family wedding vows and winked at each other during your favorite song.

But you also manipulated and lied to each other, not maliciously but fearfully and childishly.

You memorized each other’s scars and picked at them to get what you wanted. To be right. You didn’t want to be wrong, you were afraid to be wrong and alone.

These are just a few self-deprecating, self-blame and self-bashing spiral of thoughts that can haunt you and rob you of your peace of mind, hence sleep. What you had was both wonderful and also not great at times as well. Making peace with it being over is the only way you will be able to quiet the mind. One practice that can be helpful to gain peace again is accepting that you both gave it your best shot. You tried to make a love. You both did your best. Neither one of you wished for this. But it’s your reality right now. You just have to accept that it’s time for a new chapter. You have to forgive yourself and each other.

HOW TO SURVIVE

To survive a divorce, you must find acceptance even if you never find forgiveness. You have to get yourself out of the red zone in a healthy, helpful way. Remember no matter how crazy things get and how terrible they feel, you need to allow your mind and body to decompress and return to a normal-ish state. This takes a little bit of consciousness and effort.

When you slowly start doing small little things, taking periodic steps toward relieving some of the stress, your healing will accelerate.

Becoming aware and knowledgeable about the conditions that can run a havoc on your health will serve as an armor and help you get balanced faster. Connecting with and voicing your emotions without judgement is the magic key to bringing love back into your heart, which will help you get through to the other side of your mental and physical health a little more intact. The only person who can make you happy and change your negative habit and mental state is YOU — and believe me, you are capable and you can do it. Just remember to love who you are in this moment, right now, the rest will pass.

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