Divorce is known for being a highly stressful event. Many say that in regard to stress levels, it’s the second-worst thing to losing a family member. Whether you have been fantasizing about divorce for years or the divorce came as a huge shock, either way, it’s going to be an extremely challenging event.
As you struggle to deal with big changes, such as moving or selling your home, closing joint credit cards and bank accounts, re-entering the workforce, child custody, dividing retirement assets, child support, updating auto insurance policies and cellphone plans, announcing the divorce to friends and family, financial disclosures, pets, and so on, the divorce is going to impact virtually every aspect of your life.
In light of the above, it should come as no surprise when we say that the stress of the divorce will probably affect you physically and mentally. But don’t just take our word for it.
According to WebMD, “Stress affects us all. You may notice symptoms of stress when disciplining your kids, during busy times at work, when managing your finances, or when coping with a challenging relationship. Stress is everywhere. And while a little stress is OK -- some stress is actually beneficial -- too much stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically.”
WebMD says that stress can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including their emotions, behaviors, thinking, and physical health. “No part of the body is immune.” Some of the symptoms of stress include:
- Headaches or migraines
- Pain in the chest, stomach, or muscles
- Tense muscles
- Sleep problems
- Digestive issues, such as diarrhea and constipation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sexual dysfunction or reduced sexual desire
- Irregular or painful periods in women
- Changes in heart rate or blood pressure
Stress Can Affect Mental Health
Understandably, stress from divorce can affect your mental health. You may feel it physically be experiencing insomnia, stomach upset, a lack of appetite or increased appetite, but it can have a profound effect on your emotions. The stress from a divorce will almost be guaranteed to affect how you think and feel, even if it’s been a long time coming.
When you’re stressed about your divorce, it can make it tough to complete the simplest of tasks and make decisions. For some people, the stress of divorce causes them to turn to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and other toxic substances, people, or situations to help them cope with their feelings or simply “numb the pain” so they don’t feel anymore.
It is no secret that emotional pain and suffering, such as what many people experience with divorce can place a great deal of stress on the body. As such, when you go through your divorce, it’s important to make self-care and your health a top priority, especially if you have children. When you invest in your health during the divorce process, you will experience both immediate and long-term benefits that can’t be understated.
Making Your Health a #1 Priority
During the divorce process, it is wise to make your health your #1 priority. Even if you have kids you may be thinking to yourself, “No, my children are my #1 priority,” but how are you supposed to care for your children and be 100% if you’re running yourself into the ground? If you’re overeating or not eating enough, you’ll be irritable and lethargic.
If you’re malnourished or eating the wrong foods (junk food), your immune system will be compromised, and what good are you if you get sick? If you run yourself ragged and you fall ill for a week or two, you could lose a lot of income and that could only add to your stress levels, and you certainly don’t need to be stressing even more about money or not carrying your weight at the office!
When you make your health a priority, you open a lot of doors. You open doors to new opportunities, new and exciting relationships, improved self-confidence, a deeper understanding of who you are, and a healthier, more energetic lifestyle. You’re likely to meet new people, go new places, do new things, explore new ideas, and open yourself to a whole new world of possibilities.
Reasons to Start Your Journey
Divorce has a way of sucking you dry – emotionally and physically. It can be so emotionally draining that it can leave you feeling unmotivated, especially as you have to tackle all of the mundane tasks like sorting through all of your assets and debts. While it’s only normal to have these feelings, when you incorporate healthy choices and activities, they will increase your energy, boost your mood, and help you jump-start your new life.
Exercise, for example, can help relieve stress and improve your quality of sleep. Meanwhile, good nutrition can decrease or eliminate gastrointestinal issues, increase energy, and aid in weight loss. Even though divorce has a way of triggering negative emotions, you can find ways to channel these strong emotions toward healthier, rather than destructive, outlets.
For example, if you’re really angry one day, instead of smashing your wedding dishes (yes, some people do this), take all of your anger out on the weights at the gym or go for a long jog. Instead of having a huge mess to clean up and perhaps some chipped paint on the walls, you may actually lose a couple of pounds.
The idea is to take all of your stress and strong emotions and channel them toward healthier outlets, and in many cases, exercise is a great alternative to anger outbursts or self-medicating. For some people, focusing on other people by volunteering is a healthy alternative to engaging in self-destructive behaviors.
“Self-care is one of the most important activities to engage in during and after a divorce. Part of self-care is enlisting the help of friends and others to support you in specific ways through such a sensitive time,” wrote John Howard, a couples therapist, and educator in HuffPost.