Divorces are common in the United States, but even more common are the emotional and physical health challenges associated with the separation. Husbands, wives, and children are left to suffer emotional health problems like depression, anxiety, or even mild PTSD.
The physical toll also emerges as individuals don’t take care of themselves properly because of emotional strain. They might experience weight gain, muscle atrophy, stomach problems, headaches, and more.
Divorce is hard no matter the circumstances. However, it doesn’t have to have a long-term emotional and physical effect on you. Here are 10 steps to help you divorce in as healthy a way as possible.
1. Hire a Good Attorney
If you want things to be less stressful and emotionally draining, you need a good attorney who specializes in divorce law. Their experience qualifies them to give you advice to reduce the number of arguments and difficulties you’ll face during the divorce. You probably don’t realize it just yet, but your emotional health rests in the hands of a capable divorce attorney!
2. Consider the Kids
Don’t forget that your mental and physical health isn’t the only concern in this separation. Your kids will likely experience severe emotional distress as a result of your divorce, and considering their needs will minimize the long-term impacts.
Get your kids talking. If necessary, take them to a counselor who can often make more progress than you in boosting their emotional wellbeing.
3. Focus on the Positive
It’s easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of the divorce, which can significantly bring down your mood. Positive thoughts, on the other hand, are essential for strong emotional health.
According to human emotion researcher Professor Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina, positive emotions are like nutrients to the mind. “In the same way that we need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to be healthy, we need a variety of positive emotions in our daily experience to help us become more resourceful versions of ourselves,” she says.
Her studies show that positive thinking is essential to emotional health no matter what stressful experience you’re going through.
4. Choose Your Battles
There will be disagreements during the divorce proceedings, but you don’t have to win them all. For the sake of your emotional health, only fight the battles that are very important to you and let the little ones go.
5. See a Counselor
If you’re physically sick, you see a doctor. If you’re emotionally sick, you should see a counselor. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional products of your divorce can be difficult to work through on your own. An experienced family therapist can help both you and your children work through your negative emotions and find a place of general wellness.
6. Take a Vacation
The Harvard Business Review performed a study to show how a relaxing vacation can restore your mental health and energy levels. Ninety-four percent of study participants returned from a well-planned vacation with more energy and less stress – this could be exactly what your family needs to take their minds off the divorce.
7. Don’t Make Your Kids Choose
Along with helping your kids talk through their emotions, it’s important to avoid putting them in situations that could challenge their emotional health. Most importantly, don’t make them choose between you and your spouse.
It’s also important to limit negative talk about your spouse around the children. They might feel like they have to take sides or that it’s their fault their parents are divorcing.
Jackie Pilossoph of the Chicago Tribune says that parents make mistakes, but the damage is not irreparable. “If…you’re feeling badly about fighting in front of your kids in the past, there is something you can do: talk to them about it,” she says. This will help them feel safe and secure, despite past words.
8. Develop a Support Group
You don’t want to express your true feelings in front of your kids, but you do need someone to talk to. It’s okay to vent to parents, siblings, friends, or even strangers on a helpline. A support group can benefit the emotional health of your whole family.
9. Use a Mediator
Mediators might seem like an unnecessary expense, but they can actually be very helpful. Mediators diminish the amount of face-to-face time required with your spouse to work out the details of separating assets and child custody. It can lower your stress levels and prevent compromising situations while improving your chances of getting what you want.
10. Be Flexible
“Agree to let some things go,” says Sylvie Carbonneau of Healthline. “Agree to be fair. Agree that you can’t win them all. Agree that this person will be in your life for a long time.”
As such, being flexible and trying to work things out amicably will make things easier and healthier for the entire family.