No More Sleepless Nights!

Woman struggling with insomnia.

Divorce is one of the most stressful life events you can go through. And one of the most common symptoms of being stressed out is an inability to sleep well. Yet, sleep is one of the best ways to minimize the effects of stress by allowing your body and mind to recover. It can seem like you’re in a catch 22. You’re stressed out because of all the changes resulting from your divorce and really wanting a good night’s sleep (or two!), but you’re so stressed out and your mind never slows down long enough to get the sleep you’re craving which makes you more stressed. ARGGH!

I want you to know there is hope for a good night’s sleep. These are my top 5 tips for getting the rest you need to help you more effectively and easily deal with the stress of your divorce.

  1. Make sure your room is a place where (theoretically) you can easily go to sleep. Is your room dark enough? If not, get yourself a sleep mask. Is the temperature of your room conducive to sleep? If not, add a fan or more blankets or put on a pair of socks. Is your room quiet enough or too quiet? If not buy some ear plugs or listen to some music or put the TV on a sleep timer.
  2. Make sure your bed is welcoming. Especially when you’re dealing with the stress of divorce, your bed can feel empty. While I don’t recommend finding someone to fill it until after you’ve finished the bulk of your healing, I do recommend cuddling with a pet or even getting a body pillow and tucking it tightly next to you.
  3. Get your body to relax by doing some exercise daily. The stress of divorce dumps all kinds of hormones into your blood stream. The purpose of these hormones is to give you energy. If you’re not using up that energy, you’re going to be stuck with the buzz at night when you’d rather be sleeping. A great exercise for dealing with the stress of divorce is to get outside in nature and go for a walk, a jog, a run, a bike ride or even go skiing. Being in nature and active releases a lot of stress and will allow you to relax and fall asleep at night.
  4. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed. The stress of divorce can also keep your mind running at a million miles an hour. You’ve got thoughts and worries about remembering to do things, about things you’ve already done and then there are all the thoughts about trying to understand why your ex, the person who promised to love you, is doing what they’re doing. Actually taking the time to write all those thoughts down will stop your worry about trying to remember all the things you want to do, will stop your worry about what you’ve already done and help put into perspective that your ex just isn’t the person you married any more.
  5. Develop a night time routine conducive to sleep. Divorce is disruptive to everything in your life including your nightly routines. Now’s the time to create a new nurturing routine that help you prepare for a restful and restorative night’s sleep. As inspiration for creating your routine, here’s mine. At about 9:00pm, I’ll get my exercise clothes laid out for the next morning, floss and brush my teeth, lay out my clothes for the next day, wash and moisturize my face, put a glass of water on my nightstand, crawl into bed, write in my gratitude journal, turn on my meditation recording, turn out the light, put on my eye mask and then drift off to sleep.

Following these tips helps most of my clients start to get more restful sleep at night. If after a couple of weeks you’re still not sleeping well, it’s time to visit your doctor and see what suggestions they have.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Evaluate your bedroom. Make sure it’s a place you’re comfortable sleeping. If it isn’t, do what you need to do to make it that way.

Grab some extra pillows and put them where you can easily get them if you decide you need them during the night.

Schedule some daily exercise outdoors. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how big a difference this can make in helping you to relax.

Put a pen and notepad by your bed. If it’s already there and waiting for you, you won’t have to get out of bed in the middle of the night tonight and search for either one.

Develop your nighttime routine. A great starting point for your routine, after you’ve done the previous steps, is to decide on a consistent bed time. A consistent bed time works for kids and adults too with helping to prepare your body for sleep.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach.

If you’re looking for more help recovering from divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.

How To Move On After Divorce

A moving truck helping someone move on after divorce.

Three things you need to do to successfully move on after divorce.

When I think about all the work I do as a divorce and personal life coach and how I help people navigate the chaos and confusion of divorce so they can get on to living the best of their lives, I realize that the bulk of my work really involves 3 tasks.  I work with people who want to move on after their divorce people so they can:

  1. Take care of themselves
  2. Separate the present from the past and create their future
  3. Realize they’re not alone

These are three tasks everyone is required to complete to be able to successfully move on from divorce.

So many people who get divorced give up on themselves.  I was one of them.  I gave up on myself when I got divorced.  I thought that since I’d failed at my most important relationship what’s the point?  Why bother doing anything more than go through the motions of living?  Yes, this was the voice of me experiencing melodrama and situational depression.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, my work as a divorce coach over the last few years has taught me that most people feel a version of this when they get divorced and that it’s not a place anyone should stay for long.

It’s vital that you take care of yourself when you get divorced.  It’s the only way you’ll be able to move on and discover what’s possible for you.  (You’ve also got to take care of yourself to take care of your kids too.)  Taking care of yourself involves things like eating appropriately, getting enough sleep, finding employment if you don’t have it already and asking for help when you need it.

The next big piece of work everyone who’s ready to move on from their divorce needs to complete is separating the present from the past and taking the steps necessary to create the future they really want.

This recognition of the difference between the past, present and future is the focus of any type of coaching.  Most coaches call it closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

However, with divorce, things are a bit trickier because there’s usually such a strong pull back to the past and wanting to understand why the divorce is happening not to mention grieving the marriage and all that went with it.

Don’t worry if you feel like this is the hardest part of moving on from your divorce because this is the one task that most people have the most difficult time with.  The key to completing this particular task quickly is to have appropriate support.  You might look for the support you want and deserve from a family member, friend, clergy, therapist or divorce coach.  Just make sure that the person or people you’re getting support from really know what it’s like to get through divorce and can help you move on from your divorce quickly and completely.

The third task is the one that really helps people make quantum leaps toward their desired futures post-divorce.  Getting involved in a divorce support group or workshop that focuses on both commiserating AND accountability is the quickest way for you to realize that you’re not all alone when you’re going through divorce.

Unfortunately, not all divorce recovery groups are created equal, so you’ll want to do a bit of research to find the one that will work best for you.  You’ll want to ask anyone you know who’s taken a divorce workshop if their workshop provided both an opportunity to share what they were going through AND accountability for moving forward between classes/sessions.  You can also ask your attorney for a recommendation of a good class in the area.  Here are three websites for organizations that offer divorce recovery workshops that you can check out: Divorce Care, Rebuilding Workshops, and When Your Relationship Ends Workshops.

If you’re ready to successfully move on from your divorce, realize that there are only 3 things you need to do: 

  1. Take care of yourself
  2. Separate the present from the past and create your future
  3. Join a community so you recognize that you’re not alone in getting through your divorce

Once you start your work on completing these tasks you’ll develop the focus and determination to not only move on from your divorce, but to get on to making the rest of your life the best of your life.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Which of the three tasks to moving on from divorce do you need to pay the most attention to right now?  Most of us like to think that we need to multi-task to get things done – including healing from divorce, but that’s just not true.  All that anyone can truly focus on at any instant is one thing, so start at the top of the list and see, if you need to take care of yourself, if you need to separate now from the past and design your future, or if you need to search for and join a divorce support group.

What help do you need to accomplish this one task?  When you’re going through divorce, just about everything becomes a bit more difficult to do because of the huge changes divorce brings with it.  It’s 100% OK to ask for some help.  So go ahead and ask for the help you need.  You’re worth it!

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or take the first step to work with me as your personal coach.

© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

Don’t Fall For These Lies About Divorce Recovery

Man dressed in black looking seriously at the reader.

The biggest lies you’ve heard about divorce recovery… debunked!

Maybe “lies” is a bit strong; maybe the words “myths” or “stories” work better. Regardless, there is a lot of pervasive misinformation (and bad advice) about divorce out there. So I’m here to help debunk it—because divorce is hard enough without accidently making it even harder. 

I’ve seen so many people suffer needlessly when trying to recover from their divorce as a result of believing these untruths; if you’re starting over again, don’t let these lies influence you. 

I also suffered from divorce recovery lies when I divorced. I believed the notion that all divorces are basically the same AND that I’d get over my divorce more quickly if I didn’t think about it or allow myself to feel much anger about it. 

I believed that if I started dating, it meant I must be over my divorce. I didn’t understand that those were such false misconceptions. But I learned—the hard way. I don’t want that to happen to you. There is no one way divorce “should” go. So here are the most false ideas about divorce out there. Don’t let these “lies” limit you, your healing, or your truth: 

1. All divorces are basically the same. Divorces are all different. Laws vary depending on where you live. Your marriage was not like anyone else’s marriage because you and your ex-spouse are two unique individuals. Your divorce will be just as unique as you are.

There might be similarities between your divorce and someone else’s that you can use to help with your divorce recovery, but it won’t be the same.

2. It takes one year for every four years of marriage to get over your divorce. False. 

From my experience as a divorce coach, everyone is different and requires a different amount of time to recover from their divorce. Some people who stayed married for years find it fairly easy to get through their divorce recovery, and others never do.

What I believe is that it depends on how much effort you’re willing to invest in yourself and moving on with your life, as to how quickly you’ll start to feel better again.

3. Everyone going through divorce has the same emotions in the same order. This is just so wrong. There are similarities to the emotions that people experience when dealing with divorce recovery, but everyone experiences them in a different order, in different intensities, and for different durations.

4. The pain of divorce decreases linearly over time. For most people, the pain of divorce is more cyclical than linear. At first the emotions of divorce are intense and change rapidly, but over time they tend to decrease in intensity and variety. Flare-ups occur at any time after they’ve decreased.

5. Once you think you’re over your divorce, it never comes up again. As I mentioned in the discussion about the previous lie, the painful emotions of divorce can flare up after you think the worst is over. The times when people might see a flare up are at the holidays, anniversaries, or other special occasions, but not everyone does.

6. Your family members will always help you as you go through divorce. As much as I wish this wasn’t a lie, it is. It’s not so much a lie because you can’t count on your family, but because most families don’t know how to help you get through divorce … unless you’re getting through it exactly as they expect you to.

So, although most people can count on their families for help, they won’t always provide the exact help you need and want, when you need and want it.

7. It’s not OK to feel sorry for yourself. Now, I’m not advocating becoming a puddle of self-pity, but it’s OK to feel bad for yourself when you’re going through a divorce. The hopes, dreams, and expectations you had when you got married won’t come true.

Most people experience grief when that happens. It’s OK for you to feel some sadness for yourself; however, if that’s the only thing you’re feeling, you might want to reach out to someone and get more support to heal.

8. You’ll get over your divorce quicker if you just avoid thinking about it. Stuffing your thoughts and feelings about your divorce is not the best answer. When I did this, I wound up with health problems, including anorexia and anxiety attacks. So, at least in my case, trying to ignore what was going on actually made things worse.

9. You should feel really angry at your ex. Most people feel anger at their ex at some point during their divorce, but it’s not a requirement. There are examples of people who get divorced and actually gain the ability to communicate with each other.

I have some neighbors who are recently divorced; they went through a period of intense anger, but now communicate better than in the marriage.

10. Everyone gets depressed when they go through divorce. Most people experience sadness (sometimes intense sadness) when they get divorced, but sadness is not synonymous with depression.

11. If you haven’t been married for very long, you should get over it quicker than someone who remained married for many years. There really are no rules about how long it takes you to get over divorce. I know of one woman whose husband asked for a divorce after nine months of marriage. Devastated, it took her about a year to get over the grief.

I know of another woman married for about a year and got divorced, but she was over it within a couple of months. I also know of people married for 10+ years who were over their divorce before the decree finalized.

12. There’s a reason there’s no divorce ritual/celebration or marriage funeral—they aren’t needed. Despite the fact that for every two marriages in the US this year there will be approximately one divorce, divorce is still looked at as a process that isn’t something to celebrate or recognize. Maybe we consider it too personal.

For many people, having public recognition of the fact that the marriage is over is extremely helpful in putting an end to the marriage and a beginning to a newly single life.

13. The intensity and length of your anger, depression, and loneliness are directly proportional to how invested you were in your marriage. Bull. The intensity and length of your emotions is directly proportional to your ability to accept and work through them.

14. There is something wrong with you if you feel like part of you died when your marriage ended. It’s pretty common to feel like part of you died when your marriage ends. The part of you that was the spouse in your marriage is no more, and it’s OK to grieve the loss of that role.

15. Every divorce attorney only has their client’s best interests at heart. How I wish this wasn’t a lie. Unfortunately, it is. Just like in any profession, there are good ones and not so good ones. Having an attorney who truly does have your best interests at heart can make your divorce recovery that much easier, as you’re not as stressed about the legalities of your divorce.

16. You attorney is also going to help you recover from your divorce. As caring and supportive as your attorney might be, they probably aren’t the best-equipped to help you recover from your divorce. However, they probably have a great referral or two for you to get the help you deserve.

17. Everyone takes anti-depressants when they get divorced. This is like when we were teenagers and told our parents that everyone else was doing it, so we needed to do it, too. It’s just not true that everyone needs anti-depressants when they get divorced.

In my opinion, we’ve normalized depression and are ready to take a pill for a “quick fix,” instead of really exploring what’s going on.

18. Your ex is the reason your marriage failed. Even if your ex behaved in a way that necessitated your divorce, you still played some small role in the failure of the marriage. Even if that role was only agreeing to the marriage, the faster you come to terms with your part in the end of the marriage, the faster you’ll be able to recover from your divorce.

19. You should feel really sad when you get divorced. You might feel sad, you might feel relieved, you might feel angry, OR you might feel some other emotion. There’s no rule that says the only emotion you should feel during divorce is sadness.

20. You don’t need any time to adjust to your newly single life; you should continue doing everything you were doing before just fine. The truth is that for most people, getting divorced is stressful. Any added stress makes doing what you’ve always done much more difficult. So please, be gentle with yourself when you’re going through divorce and allow extra time to take care of YOU.

21. You should start dating right away. Not everyone feels ready to date when they get divorced. There’s no reason that you must start dating right away. Take your time and you’ll know when you’re ready to date.

22. The sooner you get into another relationship, the faster you’ll get over your divorce. This works for a few people, but most people need to have a little bit of time to get to know themselves again before jumping into a new relationship.

23. Getting divorced means you are a failure. Getting divorced only means that your marriage didn’t work out. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything about you as a person.

24. Your friends will always support you. This is another one I wish wasn’t on this list of lies. Your friends will support you to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, for some, they might not have any ability to support you. The thing to remember is that they’re behaving in ways that make the most sense to them, not necessarily in ways that make the most sense to you.

Be honest, how many of lies on this list do you believe? If you’re like most people I work with, you probably believe most of them. Heck, I believed most of them when I got divorced.

So, here’s your functional divorce assignment:

  • Which of the lies were you surprised to see on the list? Most of us don’t realize that what we, and those around us, believe about divorce isn’t true.
  • What beliefs do you have about divorce that you now think could be lies? It’s common for lists like the one above to trigger other thoughts about what other lies it should include. Here’s your chance to explore some of your beliefs about divorce and decide if you still want to believe them or not.
  • How has reading this article changed your thoughts about your divorce recovery? When I share these fallacies about divorce with my clients, their first response is denial that they believe any of the lies. Then, when we dig a bit deeper, they recognize they might have bought into one or two of them. Once they make that discovery, we’re able to directly address some of the obstacles they’ve had, and they’re able to get through the remainder of their divorce recovery much quicker.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

Are You Ready To Start Dating Again?

Couple holding hands at a restaurant table and dating after divorce.

Take this quick quiz and you’ll know if you’re ready to dive into dating.

Everybody is different and no one answer will be right for everyone.

This five-question quiz will let you know if you’re ready to start dating again or not.

  1. Do you want to date because your ex is?
    This is what I call the “me too” reason to start dating. It is not a good reason.

    Just because your ex has chosen to move on doesn’t mean you’re ready, too. Everybody heals and gets over a past relationship at a different rate.

    Allow yourself the time you need to feel more like you before you start dating again.

  2. Can you talk about anything else besides your breakup?
    If you find most of your conversations revolve around your breakup, your ex or how much you miss being in a relationship, then you are not ready to date. You are still grieving the loss of your relationship.

    Your friends, family and divorce professionals are the best people to help you through your grief – not some person you just met on Match.com.

    “It’s better to make sure you are past your breakup before you start dating.”

  3. Dating and relationships: Do you know the difference?
    After being in a long-term relationship, most of us forget what dating is like.

    We are so used to being in a relationship that we jump into another relationship instead of dating, and we’re usually sorry we did so.

    So, what is dating?

    Dating is spending time with different people to learn what you do and don’t like about different personalities, experiences and yourself when you’re hanging out with different people.

    Dating is all about having fun and learning more about you.

  4. Are you feeling desperate about needing to date?
    If you answered yes to this question, you already know you are not ready to start dating.

    One of the biggest struggles people have when their relationship ends is rebuilding their self-esteem. Self-esteem is something that can’t be improved by having someone else tell you how wonderful you are.

    You have to believe in yourself before you believe what someone you met on PlentyOfFish.com says about you.

  5. Do you feel guilty when you think about dating?
    When we are in a relationship, most of us have a deep sense of loyalty to our partner that becomes a habit – a habit in thought and behavior.

    It can be tough to break a habit of many years. Just ask anyone who has quit smoking!

If you have answered no to questions one, four and five and yes to questions two and three, you are definitely ready to start dating again!

If you didn’t get a score that clears you for dating just yet, that is OK.

We all heal from our relationships at different rates, and it’s much better to make sure you are past the worst of your breakup before you get out there and start dating again.

So, how did you do on the quiz? Are you ready to start dating again?

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

This article originally appeared on DatingAdvice.com.