Has divorce stress got you down and out? Here are 7 ways to combat divorce depression and anxiety — so you can feel like yourself again.
Sleep and eat right. Insomnia and the “divorce diet” are common side effects of divorce, but they can actually bring on clinical depression and exacerbate anxiety. Lack of sleep and poor nutrition alter your brain chemistry, making it hard to function and regulate your mood. If these symptoms persist, see your doctor or mental health professional to help get your sleep and appetite back on track.
Exercise. Did you know many psychiatrists prescribe regular exercise to their patients, in addition to medication? Moderate exercise releases chemicals in the brain that boost your mood, improve immune function, and can even help you sleep. Jogging or walking give you the added benefit of natural light, yet another one of nature’s mood stabilizers. Or take an exercise class for its added benefit of socializing and meeting new people.
Practice mindfulness. If you’re going through divorce, you’re probably worried about the future or ruminating about the past. Neither of these activities will change anything for the better, and in fact, will make you feel even more depressed and anxious. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present. Whether through meditation, exercise, or creative endeavors, focusing on the present will help you learn to tolerate difficult emotions so that you can avoid kneejerk reactions (such as firing off a hostile email to your ex) and make wise choices.
Abide by a “divorce curfew.” Thinking about your divorce 24/7 will burn you out. No matter how much work you have to do meeting with family law professionals and preparing documentation, it’s crucial to set limits. Put yourself on a “divorce curfew” so you can manage your stress level. Don’t do anything divorce-related (including talking about divorce) after 8 pm. Spend evening hours doing something positive: enjoy bedtime rituals with your kids, read a book, or meditate. You may also find that you get a better night’s sleep when you follow your curfew.
Pick your confidantes wisely. It’s important to have the support of friends and family, but be careful whom you choose to lean on. If your loved ones hate your ex as much, or more, than you do, talking to them is likely to make you feel more upset. And if they question your lawyer’s advice, they’ll just make you more anxious. Seek support from someone who will listen, instead of trash-talking your ex.
See a therapist. A divorce therapist can offer you objectivity and unbiased support in a way your friends and family can’t. They can also provide grief counseling and teach you coping skills to manage your depression and anxiety.
Focus on what you can control. Ultimately, you can’t control your ex, your children’s reactions, or family law. Trying to control things you can’t, or wallowing in despair, is simply an exercise in torture. One of the best ways to manage depression and anxiety is to focus only on what you can control: your own choices.
For most people, divorce-related depression and anxiety are short-term. But if symptoms persist, or are serious, don’t try to tough it out alone. Contact a doctor and/or mental health professional so you can start feeling normal again.
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