Divorce is a truly hard and difficult process that impacts many facets of life as social circles, finances, and even our sense of identity changes. In order to adapt to this transition, it’s essential to schedule time for self-care. I say schedule because that’s just how intentional providing self-care during your divorce is. In order to have the stamina to find a new living situation, research affordable childcare, or land a new job, you’ve got to carve out time that’s just for you.
Importance of Prioritizing Self Care
This is a marathon, not a sprint
Scroll Instagram for a few minutes and the hashtag #selfcare will have you believing it’s something you buy online; week-long tropical retreats, lavish skincare routines, pricey juicing cleanses…keep scrolling. Self-care is ultimately the choice to take care of yourself, despite the constant demands of a society that wants you to address everything else first, before attending to your needs. Each time you practice a form of self-care, you send and reinforce the message that you matter, that you deserve to feel good in your mind and safe in your body. That you are enough all on your own.
Most of the decisions you make during your divorce will have long-term consequences. So bring in the reinforcements — all the self-care practices that help keep you grounded during times of uncertainty. As imperfect human beings, our inner world mirrors our external one. By taking the time out of our busy lives to pause before beginning yet another task sets us up for being present with our emotions, allows us to identify and name them, and with that presence we can then tap into the compassion necessary to accept them as they are. Operating from a place of self-care, and therefore, self-compassion, helps prevent you from making reactive decisions out of anger or fear. Because it’s what we do with the emotion that matters, and really the only thing we can control.
You may be tempted to cut corners with your kids during a divorce, but healthy and consistent ground rules during this time is the best advice for separating with children – you’re making choices that will affect your child’s well-being, choices that can also impact your custody plea if your divorce goes to court. Establishing a parenting schedule is key to offering a stable structure your child can depend on and can help limit the cause for anxiety. Strong boundaries surrounding sleep, meals, and hygiene for both you and your family is a baseline for any positive routine. Start there, and move towards negotiating more complex co-parenting agreements from the same page.
A self-care regiment prevents catastrophic thinking, helping you stay grounded throughout the divorce. This entails the ability to flex those strong boundary muscles, especially if you’re still having to cohabitate with your soon-to-be-ex partner. As traumatic arguments may arise during this time, it’s necessary for your psyche to have a plan of action to cope. This doesn’t mean turning to a bottle of Proseco or editing your Bumble profile. Instead, focus on nurturing yourself by having multiple self care methods in your tool shed and ask for help when you need it.
Self-care involves taking care of your physical self as much as it does your mental. By eating a healthy diet, getting sufficient rest, and exercising at least three times per week, we can prevent our nervous system from hyperactivity, or getting stuck in a constant mode of flight or fight. A hyper vigilant nervous system is in a state of reactivity, rather than response, and remaining in this condition for too long can lead to stress-induced symptoms like inflammation, GI tract issues, skin rashes, or auto-immune system flair-ups.
Performance at Your Job
Making time for your self care in your off hours immeasurably paves the path of least resistance during your work hours. If you’re feeling tired from a lack of quality sleep or suffering from a lot of negative internal rumination, it will ultimately show up in your interactions and relationship with your work. By taking the time necessary to practice self-care, you’re reinforcing your ability to compartmentalize the divorce from your employment. This can prevent you from emotionally spiraling and threatening your job security when you surely need it most.
Quality of Your Relationships with Friends and Family
Now’s the time to restrict who has access to you. If you have toxic family members or friends who feed on drama, a solid dose of distance during your divorce can prevent unreliable points of view from clouding your judgement. If you’re around people who push you to be a better person, you will be. If you’re around a cohort who deal with their emotions using drugs, alcohol, and risky sexual behavior, however, the consequences can be disastrous to your divorce proceedings and custody plea.
Hopefully this list not only offers advice after a breakup but gives you some blueprints on how to design your own divorce self-care routine. These rituals will serve you best if you approach them with a sense of curiosity; these practices should not be punishments. If you’d like to check out other guides on how to survive your divorce, download my free ebook here.