Design Your Plan
Much has been written about surviving a divorce. One sees
articles, for example, about “Getting Through a Breakup”,
“Getting Over a Breakup”, and “Getting Back in the Swing of
Things After a Breakup”. In this article, I thought it would
be helpful to give you a summary of these many points, so you
could draw a plan for the beginning of your new life after
divorce. If you would like to have more information about any of
the points in this article, please let me know in the Comments
section at the end of this article or on the Ask Judy page of this
website. I welcome your suggestions on how to make this website
helpful to you.
Yourself Time To Grieve
Divorce and the losses that flow from it often brings about an
immediate grief that can overwhelm you. Grief can take the form
of sadness or fear or anger or other negative emotions. Just as
with the losses one feels after the death of someone close,
there is no way to circumvent these feelings at first. You can
only accept them. Although the duration differs from one person
to another, we all need time to process grief.
Sudha Prathikanti, a psychiatrist at the University of
California says, “There’s something about the external act of
cleaning that allows for an internal cleansing as well.” It can
help clear away the difficult memories associated with the
marriage. It’s the idea of putting away all of the tangible
reminders of your relationship – pictures, souvenirs, etc. –
that helps you feel that you can clear away your connections
with your ex.
Use The “E” Word
How often we are given advice to exercise! (I, too, wrote about
this issue, in earlier posts on this blog. Link to post here)
The fact of the matter is that exercise can have huge benefits
as a mood lifter. An article in a Revolution Health newsletter
reports, “Recent studies show that if you exercise at moderate
intensity five times a week, 30 minutes each time, it’s as
effective as an antidepressant.” You do need to be consistent to
get those results, but once you ‘get into it’, your body
releases a compound called serotonin, which can be very
mood-enhancing. …..and you are benefiting physically as well.
Prathikanti points out that touch is a key way to nurture
yourself. “It’s very important”, she says. Prathikanti
recommends people get massages. Even self-massage is helpful.
She explains, “We’re almost hard-wired to need touch, which
releases endorphins and neurotransmitters like serotonin - all
of which help to make you feel better physically and
Eat Healthful Foods
When you’re feeling needy, it’s so easy to deal with it by
hunkering down in front of the TV with a pint of ice cream.
While eating ‘comfort foods’ feels good at the time, we all know
the negative consequences that result after wallowing in junk
Additionally, I learned that healthful foods might even help
improve your mood. Food rich in omega-3 acids, like flaxseed and
walnuts, and green leafy vegetables, that provide folic acid and
other B vitamins, seem to help prevent depression.
Believe in Yourself
It’s so important at this difficult time to value your own
self-worth. Concentrate on it. You can start by making a list of
10 good qualities about yourself. Write each one on a sticky
note and place them all around the house. Even if you don’t read
them, they can supply subliminal messages that have a positive
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Every day, make a list of 3 good things that happened that day.
It’s critical to remember that, despite your loss, there are
still good things in your life. If you look at each of those
good things, and note what part you played in making them
happen, you will strengthen your belief in yourself at the same
time. It is critical to focus on these activities because they
will help carry you forward.
Talk It Out
Don’t spend too much time brooding alone. Find someone with whom
you can be honest and open – a close friend or family member, a
therapist or a coach. Be sure not to let those conversations
take over your life, however.
As I wrote in an earlier post on this blog, some people use
rituals to end a relationship symbolically. [Link to post here.]
Sherry Amatenstein, author of Love Lessons from Bad Breakups,
says “If you find yourself bothered by concrete reminders of a
relationship that has ended, get rid of them.” Amanstein also
suggests finding closure by writing a letter to your ex (that
you won’t actually mail) - expressing your feelings about the
Think of It As a New Beginning, Not an End
Bella DePaulo, author and visiting professor of psychology at
the University of California, Santa Barbara, expressed my
philosophy to a “T”. She says, “ Although the end of a
relationship can be disorienting, the singlehood that follows
has the potential to be expansive, liberating and fulfilling.”
DePaulo believes that the end of a relationship offers the
opportunity to reclaim – or discover for the first time – the
passions and interests that are your own.
“Living your life to the fullest is a
win/win situation” DePaulo says. “If you stay single, you are
already living authentically and unapologetically. If you decide
to couple again, you will do so from a position of strength.”
To those ideas I say, “AMEN!”
- Which of these activities has been
difficult to initiate and maintain? Tell us about it.
- What other things have you found to
be helpful in generating a positive outlook? Can you share
those with us?
- About which ‘building blocks’ would
you like to have more in-depth information?
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About the author: Judy Smith,
personal coach and founder of The Center for Planned Change,
focuses her practice on helping women over 50 create a new life