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Coping With Divorce- Five Ways To Take Care of Your Mental Health

mental health during a divorce

Navigating divorce can be overwhelming. If you’re going through this process, whether this is your first time or not, you might be searching for tips and tricks on how to cope with the mental health effects. Using expert commentary from a legal partner and a well-being practitioner, we’re here to help you get through this one day at a time.  

Here are some of the best ways you can take care of your mental health during a divorce. 

1. Take a step back and recognise your emotions 

The legal and personal processes of a divorce can be an emotional roller-coaster. To recommend the best methods of coping with this process, we have spoken with Elizabeth Wyatt, partnerat Anthony Collins, a nationally focussed law firm:

“I have seen first-hand the negative effects divorce can have on mental health and well-being. If you are struggling with feelings of grief or stress, remember that this is completely normal. The important thing is to take a step back from the situation and recognise these emotions.

“Everyone reacts to divorce in a different way. To navigate the emotional nature of divorce, you can consider the five stages of grief as established by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in On Death and Dying (1969). If you understand these emotions, you may be better prepared to tackle them.”

  1. Denial may be one of the first emotions you experience. You might feel detached from the reality of your divorce, but this is a normal coping mechanism. 
  2. Anger can present itself next. In controlled quantities, this is an understandable reaction to a heart-breaking situation, but try not to dwell on this stage.
  3. Bargaining is also a normal emotion to experience. Instead of pondering the ‘what if’ and dwelling on the past, start asking yourself how you want to spend the future. 
  4. Depression is a recognised mental health condition. In fact, 3 in every 100 people experience this emotion in England every week. Remember to seek professional help if this affects your personal or professional life. 
  5. Acceptance is the final emotion you may experience. Once you’ve reached this stage, you can begin rebuilding your life and looking forward to the future.

2. Start a fresh chapter in your life 

Divorce might seem like an ending. In some ways, it is, but this experience is also a chance for you to turn over the page and enter a new chapter in your life. The way you start this journey is up to you, whether you’re eager to explore the world or train in a new profession. 

It can be difficult to start fresh. If you’re holding onto memories of the past, try cutting any unnecessary ties from your partner, such as deleting phone numbers and throwing away old pictures. Severing ties is the hardest and most necessary rule for moving on from your ex-partner. 

Take this piece of advice with a pinch of salt. Make sure these are unnecessary connections that you feel are holding you back from living life for yourself. If you and your ex-partner share a child together, for example, this rule will not apply. 

3. Learn how to prioritise your own well-being  

Once you’re aware of the emotional process, you can learn how to prioritise your own sound mental health and well-being. To understand how you can do this, we have spoken with Samantha Byram, a Well-being Practitioner within the North East of England:

“The divorce process is time-consuming, to say the least. Over the duration of weeks or months, the legal formalities can become tiresome for everyone involved. This can distract people from what is really important: remembering self-care and well-being practices.  

“You need to reserve time for self-care during a divorce. We recommend that you find a method that suits your lifestyle and preferences. This can be something as small as an afternoon walk, practising mindful exercises, or starting a new and exciting hobby.”

4. Remember to spend time with your loved ones

Divorce can be a lonely experience and, according to research by the Mental Health Foundation, this will have a negative effect on your well-being. During this time, remember that your loved ones will be happy to help you through the process. You might just have to make the first step. 

Depending on personal circumstances, you might not be able to lean on a loved one. Remember that this doesn’t mean you have to go through your divorce alone. There are online support groups ready to welcome you with (virtual) open arms, such as Talk About Marriage.  

5. Understanding when to seek professional help 

Last but not least, in order to care for your mental health during the divorce process, you need to understand when to seek professional help. This can be advice from a trained councillor or law advisor. Either way, the weight of the situation shouldn’t rest on your shoulders alone. 

To summarise 

These are five ways to take care of your mental health while going through a divorce: recognise your emotions, take care of your own needs, severe unnecessary ties, spend time with your loved ones, and understand when to ask for professional help. Really though, there are no right or wrong answers. Each day will be different from the next, but as long as tomorrow is brighter than yesterday, you’re on the right path.