Friday, March 13, 2009

Dealing with divorce-related stress by Lora Pfundheller

Divorce is one of the most stressful events in an adult's life. For most people, divorce is a time of sadness and regret. In the midst of this emotional turmoil, many practical changes must also be dealt with. Daily life must be reorganized to accommodate the new structure of the family. Finances need to be untangled and rethought. Self identity shifts from being a spouse to being single. Possessions are divided up. If there are children involved, their need for reassurance and answers is immediate. All of these changes can add up to an enormous amount of stress. Below are some general strategies for dealing with it.
1. Allow yourself to grieve. If you don't acknowledge your feelings of sadness and anger, they will overwhelm you, adding dramatically to your stress. It is normal to mourn the end of a marriage. There are good times in almost every marriage, no matter how badly it turned out. Seeing those good times come to an end is distressing. Even if you are the one seeking the divorce, there is loss involved. You are losing your identity, your partner, even your in-laws. Go ahead and cry.
2. Accept the fact of the divorce. Pretending the divorce isn't happening won't change reality. Denial creates chaos, as your fear of the coming change clashes with the necessity of moving forward. Acceptance allows you to begin building a new status quo.
3. Make time for yourself, especially if you are now a single parent. Taking on all the household responsibility can be staggering. It is vital that you relax when you begin to feel overwhelmed by it all. If you can only spare a few minutes, take a shower or do deep breathing exercises. If you have the time, take a walk or curl up with a good book. You will feel better and get more accomplished once you've de-stressed a bit.
4. Talk about your feelings. Express yourself to family members or friends. Seek help from a therapist for depression. Find a support group for divorced people or single parents. Keep a diary. Sharing your experience and getting advice and comfort will lower your stress level.
5. Socialize. Get together with friends and enjoy yourself. When you isolate yourself, your problems become the only thing you can think about. Stop dwelling on the divorce and allow yourself to laugh. You will be able to face your new challenges feeling less stressed if you realize you can still have fun.
6. Rediscover yourself. What did you like to do before you got married? Did you write poetry or paint? Perhaps you spent your free time surfing or gardening. Whatever you once filled your time with, you did it for a reason. You did it because it was relaxing and fulfilling. Now is a great time to get back to your old hobbies, or discover new ones.
The end of a marriage is always difficult. The changes in your life will be countless and stress is inevitable. While there is no way to avoid stress during divorce altogether, using these tips will help you minimize your stress and get on with your life.