It’s very common for mental and emotional well-being to be affected by a separation. It brings with it anger, sadness, insecurity, worry over legal questions and fears about how it will affect your children, so it is totally understandable that it has an impact. In this article, we highlight some fundamental ways to look after your mental health following a divorce or separation.
Understanding the grieving process
Divorce has been likened to the grieving process in the way it affects us. This is understandable when you consider the loss of an established relationship. There is a similar pattern of shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and hopefully, eventually acceptance. Like grief, this process can take months, if not years to conclude, so in the meantime, it’s really important to take good care of yourself.
Understanding your emotions
Acknowledging and understanding your emotional response to a divorce is really important. It can have an impact on your behaviour, particularly towards your ex-partner, close family and children, and upon your decision making, so it’s good to be aware of that, especially when it comes to legal issues.
The breakdown of a marriage or long-term relationship often creates upheaval in everyday life, resulting in heightened levels of stress, which can manifest in increased anxiety, irritability, fatigue, impatience, fear and loneliness. If the situation escalates it can be overwhelming and lead to long term depression and even total burnout, so it is vital to try to find a good source of support.
Who can help?
- Informal support
If you have close family or friends then these can be a good source of support in the first instance. Having someone available to offload your emotions onto and run decisions past can be helpful, so try to create a little social support network for yourself. It is also worth speaking to your HR department at work or your line manager and letting them know what’s going on and how you are feeling. They might be able to offer access to counselling via a workplace scheme or just cut you a little slack if you find yourself struggling.
- Professional support
Not everyone has a close family or friends they can discuss things with, but there are other avenues of support available. Even if you do have a good social support network, it is still advisable to seek professional support if you are experiencing ongoing mental and emotional health struggles as a result of a separation.
Your GP should be your first port of call and can refer you for counselling or therapy. There are also other external organisations such as Relate and Mind who can offer therapeutic service and support.
Getting advice from an experienced family solicitor will help you understand your options and help you meet the challenges ahead with more certainty. They will be able to assist you in making good decisions moving forwards.
What you can do to help yourself
Here are a few simple pointers on what you can do to help yourself:
- Observe your feelings and acknowledge them
- Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. Make your wellbeing a priority
- Avoid using alcohol or other substances as an alternative to therapeutic support
- Immerse yourself in your interests or hobbies
- Engage in therapeutic activities such as meditation, yoga, reiki, self-care treatments etc
- Talk to others who have been through a divorce. They may have some good advice and tips they can share
- Try to keep a positive mindset about the future and its possibilities.