By Robert K Mohr – Content Strategist
Whether you’re going through a separation or a divorce, coping emotionally can be a huge challenge. You can be on top of every detail, a checklist machine, and suddenly you realize that you’re barely surviving. And no surprise, because whatever it is you’re going through, it’s the end of something you were sure would last forever. Sometimes simply getting tasks off a checklist isn’t enough. You need help with YOU. In that vein, below are some helpful emotional survival tips.
Reconnect with Friends and Family/Build a Support Group
Over time you may have lost touch with the very people that would help you emotionally cope during this challenging time. Maybe you lost track of old friends while you were with your significant other or maybe your family wasn’t particularly close with your significant other. Either way, don’t be afraid to reach back out to them now to help you. These are YOUR people, after all, and they’ll embrace you, figuratively and literally, and help you get through this. You may be surprised at what other people are going through in their own relationships once you start opening up.
Find Things to Take Your Mind Off Your Troubles
While total avoidance isn’t productive, temporary escapism is great for your emotional health. Read a book – an old favorite or something new (just try to stay away from the family drama genre). Go to the movies; there’s always something explodey at the multi-plex. Take a long hike with a podcast playing on your headphones. Take up cooking. Hell, throw yourself into your career. There are plenty of little things out there that can help you cope, or at least provide a temporary escape. If all else fails, get a pet. They’re always happy to see you and think you’re the best thing in the entire world.
Seek Professional Help
There is absolutely no shame in admitting you can’t handle this all by yourself; your emotional survival may depend on being honest with yourself. It’s not possible to overstate how hard a separation can be on a person, and hikes and drinks with friends may not be enough. And If you think this is out of reach financially, you might be surprised. Most therapists bill on a sliding scale and will likely be able to work within your budget. Some employers also offer free counseling through EAP programs. The super budget option would be to pick up some recommended self help books that speak to your situation. A quick Amazon search of “divorce self help books” returned over 11,000 results. Options are out there for you. Never be too proud to seek them out.
This is a tough one, obviously, and almost certainly won’t start right away. But once you’re ready, have a plan. What do you want to get out of re-entering the dating scene? Friendship? Sex? Long term relationship? The best thing about dating again, as you move through your separation, is the positive energy. Yes, someone thinks your jokes are funny, that your stories are interesting, that you look good in those jeans. Even if you don’t meet your next soul mate, knowing people like you can help your emotional health immeasurably.
Focus on You (the You You Want to Be)
There’s a saying that the definition of hell is when the person that you became meets the person you could have become. More simply put, now’s the time to really look at yourself and think about who you are and who you want to be. If those things are different, start a list, work out a plan of baby-steps that will transform you from who you are to the best person you can be. Yes, separation can be horrible, but there’s good to be taken from it, and a chance to reinvent yourself is top of the list. Don’t let the chance pass you by.
Make BIG Goals
So maybe part of your reinvention is to do something you always wanted to do but never did. Maybe you always wanted to learn to fly but your significant other was afraid for you. Maybe you were just too busy with the day to day to learn a language. Never been to Europe? Have a business idea that’s been in the back of your head? Want to train to run a marathon? How about getting that degree? Why shouldn’t NOW be the time? Again, you’re finding the bright side of a dark time; before you know it, every day might be more bright than not.
Prepare for the Long Haul.
We’ve said this one before, but it bears repeating here as well. The average divorce with children under 18 takes around 9 months. If you are unable to agree on how to split major assets, or if it becomes contentious, it can easily last upwards of 2-3 years. Preparing yourself mentally for a potentially long, drawn out divorce process builds the expectations in your mind and helps you cope better. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That way, if the worst happens, you’re ready. And if the best happens, all the better. Our continuing hope is that these tips in some way help you with your emotional survival. And if you have any other thoughts, please share them in the comments section.