How to Survive Divorce

Written and posted on behalf of Brent Hemington.

So You’re Splitting Up:
5 Tactics to Survive Your Divorce or Separation and (Soon Enough) Thrive

Cartoon of a lonely looking fellow

Divorce sucks.

If anybody knows this, it’s a divorce lawyer.

For over 30 years, I’ve been working with people as they go through some of the most difficult and emotionally impactful times of their entire lives… And there’s one thing that almost every single divorce client I’ve worked with has said:

“I don’t know how I can do this.”

I get it. But I’ve helped enough people to now that you will move past this.

I also know that there are things you can do – both legally and personally – to help yourself get through this more easily and potentially even faster.

What follows are recommendations I give to all clients who come into my Calgary family law office. Believe me when I say that I fully, 1000% understand how badly this hurts right now, but you can and will survive this.

Life continues, and following these 5 recommendations for surviving your divorce and eventually thriving again will help your life continue on a more even-keel while helping you feel less like a zombie and more like the strong and resilient person you truly are.

1. Get Outside.

We are so incredibly fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and now is the perfect time to get outside to experience it for yourself!

Cartoon of someone getting over their divorce by being in nature

Numerous studies, including this one from the University of Michigan, tell us that getting back in touch with Mother Nature is fantastic for battling depression and improving overall mental health.

You don’t even have to go for long hikes in the mountains – though I would strongly recommend it – even going outside and walking barefoot on some lush, green grass may do the trick. It’s a practice called “grounding” that’s picking up in popularity.

If you think about this, it makes sense – the sensation of feeling fresh grass under your feet and between your toes is a feeling that’s hard to match. When you feel it, your mind is forced to refocus as you experience this new and unique sensation and sometimes this is all you need to propel yourself into a better frame of mind.

Whether you go for a nice walk or just feel the earth beneath your feet, it’s important for you to get outside.

2. Get Active.

Inside or out, getting physically active is crucial to feeling better. Join (and actually attend) your local gym, become an active hiker or runner, or take up a sport like soccer or a martial art (which I would personally recommend) – whatever you do for physical exercise will work wonders for your health, both mind and body.

If you have kids then there’s an added benefit to getting physically active Cartoon of someone reducing stress with weight liftingduring your divorce. According to this great article from the University of Missouri, “Engaging in physical activities together helps parents and children spend time with one another and reap the health benefits of exercise.”

In other words, this could be just what the doctor ordered to help keep yourself and your kids in a happier, healthier place while also facilitating a deeper bond that might otherwise suffer during this stressful time.

3. Be With Friends & Family.

This should go without saying, but being with loved ones is one of the very best things you can do to feel better – especially when you’re dealing with separation and/or divorce.

It’s too easy to close into yourself and fixate on your pain and self-defeating thought loops. The need to try making sense of this ordeal is only natural, but all-too-often it can be a slippery slope.

Negative thought loops and feelings of isolation are most likely to occur in times like this and it’s critical that you don’t let them take over… And the best way of preventing this is by being with family and friends who love you.

If there’s anybody who can recognize when you’re spiraling into a negative state of mind and bring you out of it, it’s those who know and love you best!

Cartoon of someone talking to a loved one

4. Keep Yourself Hydrated and Fed.

Another obvious tip, but a lot of people find it hard to remember to eat and stay hydrated when they are in the midst of a painful and stressful ordeal.

Others may remember that they should eat and hydrate, but simply don’t have the stomach for it.

Cartoon of a person with a hamburger (or veggie burger)However, there is no greater disservice you can do to your emotional and physical well-being than to neglect your basic needs for sustenance! Every single life form on earth needs fuel to survive, and you are no exception – whether you like it or not.

While “stress foods” like deep fried treats or sugary sweets may be incredibly comforting, remember that eating healthy is your best bet for feeling better. Here’s a good source for Cartoon of someone with a lollipoptasty, but healthy, foods to eat when you’re stressed right out: Good stress foods for splitting up.

5. Set Aside Time to Mourn.

There are a great many articles, blog posts, and studies available that focus on the above 4 recommendations, but not as many recognize the need to mourn.

This has always baffled me. Divorce and separation is a time of loss, so why wouldn’t you be encouraged to mourn? A vicious recipe of emotions fuels the pain you feel during this time, and grief is one of the biggest ingredients. Give your grief the recognition it deserves so you can overcome its sting and move on with your life.

Cartoon of someone under a rain cloud as a metaphor for sadness

A healthy approach to dealing with your sadness is by reserving a pre-assigned time to mourn.

For example, if you have an evening where you can set aside some “me time” then do it and indulge your sadness before it becomes an overwhelming force.

Take this time to binge on your favourite food while watching a sappy movie, cry into your most comfortable blanket, scream into your pillow of choice, or do whatever else you feel is needed to release the simmering stew of sadness and associated emotions. Do this at your designated time for however long you need to – only you know when you won’t need this regularly scheduled time of release anymore.

Getting a divorce is never easy and if there is ever a time to consult an experienced family lawyer about your divorce, it is right now.

As a family lawyer with over 30 years of experience, I can help you with your separation and divorce matter. My focus is on resolving conflict – not creating it. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment.