Divorce, Stress and Your Health
Even the most ‘friendly’ divorce can be stressful, whether you’re the one leaving or being left. There are so many things to think of and take care of like custody of any children involved, division of joint property, and the long term financial effects of going from either two paychecks to one, or from one to just alimony and/or child support. As well as other things that can cause stress, such as how the friends and family react (i.e. if they choose sides) finding a new place to live and possibly a new school for the kids…the list goes on and on.
All this stress can affect your health in any number of ways. It can cause stomach problems, sleep issues, headaches, depression, over (or under) eating, mood swings, etc. So what can we do to make sure our health doesn’t take a huge hit as a result of the breakup?
Here are 5 suggestions:
1) Think long and hard about finances. Too many of us, especially women, don’t realize what a huge financial difference we’ll be facing. Either we don’t really think it through, or because we just don’t want to fight anymore, agree to whatever’s suggested. A financial adviser who specializes in divorce related finances is a really good idea. When retirement is only a couple of months away is not the time to be wishing we’d asked for our share of the 401k.
2) Decide early on that the kids won’t be used as bargaining chips or for revenge. They aren’t spies either. The long term effects on the kids involved can cause some long term stress, if they’re caught in the middle of a war zone or a put in the position of having to choose sides. Putting aside our own hurt and other various emotions, and doing what’s best for them, will pay off in the long run.
3) Find a support system. Friends are good as long as they’re ok with your venting, but sometimes a support group might be even more helpful. Most churches today have divorce and single parent support groups, and many have individual counseling available as well. They may also be valuable resources for other types of assistance needed.
4) Move. I don’t mean move to a new home – you may have already had to do that and if you didn’t there’s probably no use to moving out of a perfectly good home. I’m talking about exercise. For many, simply getting up and moving can be a great stress reliever. Take a yoga class. Take a kickboxing class. Ride a bike. Take a long walk. Anything that gets the body moving can be hugely beneficial when it comes to dealing with stress.
5) Learn something new. You know that art class you’ve been wanting to take but just couldn’t seem to convince the spouse to watch the kids for a few hours a week so you could paint? Figure out the childcare and take the course! Take that writing course, or volunteer at the Humane Society or battered women’s shelter. Keeping the mind moving can be as helpful as keeping the body moving, but it needs to be thinking about positive things.
Divorce is tough. No denying it. But keeping ourselves healthy during and after is incredibly important. You know how the flight attendants always tell us to put the oxygen masks on our own faces before we try to help others? There’s a reason. We can’t help others if we don’t take care of ourselves.
Written By: Tricia Doane, Rust Built, Marketing Services