A divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can live through, especially if you’ve been married for a long time. Separating from your partner may be the best decision for you and your future, but this is still an emotionally challenging time.
If you want to move on healthily and constructively, it’s important to be proactive in managing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. These are some great ways to start:
Change Your Name (If Applicable)
If you changed your name when you married, consider changing it back to your former name. It’s a relatively simple step that can bring finality to your perception of the relationship and help you prepare to live life as an independent individual. If you didn’t change your name for the marriage, there’s no need to change your name now unless you want to start a new identity for yourself.
You may be forced to interact with your former partner throughout the divorce. But you should generally avoid talking to them as much as possible. Continuing to talk can complicate your feelings, draw you back into an unhealthy situation, and make it harder for you to move forward.
This is an opportunity for you to reflect and improve upon yourself as an individual – and if you’re almost exclusively focused on your former partner, you’ll neglect that opportunity.
In a few months or years, you may be ready to reach out and try to rebuild a friendship. But space is probably the best thing for both of you right now.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
You won’t be able to move on unless you proactively acknowledge your feelings. Denying or burying your feelings will only make things more complicated for you.
These are a few ways you can acknowledge what you’re feeling:
- Meditate. Mindfulness meditation is a practice that forces you to live in the present moment. It also forces you to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings as you experience them, bringing your attention to impulses you otherwise may not have noticed.
- Journal. Journaling is good for your mental health for several reasons. It allows you to think about your feelings, helps you conceptualize and formalize them, and helps you see clearly when you’re overreacting or underreacting.
- Talk. Talking about your feelings is also valuable. If you have close friends or family members, tell them what you’re feeling and ask them for support. Otherwise, joining a support group or talking to a counselor may be a good idea.
It’s also important to practice self-care.
Prioritize these aspects:
- Exercise. Physical exercise is a great way to reduce stress and stay in shape. If you spend just 20 to 30 minutes vigorously exercising each day, you’ll see a noticeable boost in your mood and start feeling stronger and more energized.
- Healthy eating. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional round of ice cream, but for the most part, you should focus on healthy eating patterns. Reducing your portion sizes, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding junk foods can help you feel better inside and out.
- Cleanliness. Good personal hygiene and cleanliness in your living space can also help you feel strong, confident, and capable. Bathe and declutter daily, and clean your house at least weekly.
- Personal enjoyment. Set aside time to do things you enjoy. Now that you’re partner-free, you’ll have more time than ever to do what you genuinely love.
Human beings are social creatures – and we benefit tremendously from interacting with each other, even in a limited capacity. In addition to practicing independent self-care, you should spend as much time as possible with others.
- Friends and family members. Friends and family members are some of the closest people to you. Therefore, they are some of the best people to lean on during this period of your life. Open up as much or as little as you want; just make sure you’re in the company of people who care.
- Meetups and events. Attend meetups and other events relevant to your interests. With a simple Google search, you should be able to find plenty of events and opportunities to meet people who share your interests and values.
- Generally going “out.” You also don’t need formal plans to socialize with others. Going out to a park, a coffee shop, or a bar could be exactly what you need to feel more connected to the people around you.
Moving on from a divorce is never easy and rarely straightforward. But with the right mindset, the right strategies, and a commitment to personal growth, you can make the most of this tumultuous time.