These 19 tips will help you heal from your divorce so you can move on with your life.
Divorce knocks you down in just about every way imaginable. Along with losing your marriage, you lose your lifestyle, the goal of raising your children in an intact family, and all the other dreams you had for the future. Each loss feels like another blow that takes you lower and lower into the depths of divorce despair.
Although you know there are plenty of people who have made it through divorce, you wonder what they knew about how to recover after divorce that you don’t. And then you think maybe your divorce is so much more horrible than what others have gone through that what they did won’t work for you.
And so your torturous thoughts turn as you wrestle with worries about how to get over your divorce. The problem is that the more you worry about it, the harder it is for you to recover which throws your thoughts back to thinking that your divorce is just so much more horrible than anyone else’s.
It’s a vicious cycle that keeps you stuck.
But you can break out of it. You can stop the self-destructive thoughts. And you can get on with your life.
All it takes is a willingness to work mentally, emotionally and physically to achieve your goal of getting over your divorce.
This is how to recover after divorce:
- Know that getting over the end of your marriage is supposed to be hard.
Divorce hurts everyone involved just in different ways and at different times. You can easily know the truth of this by the amount of divorce information you find on the internet, the number of songs written about the end of relationships and the number of TV shows, movies and books about divorce.
Because divorce is difficult, be gentle with yourself. Showing yourself compassion as you work your way through the depths of your divorce despair will help you get through it a whole lot more quickly than if you’re impatient with yourself.
- Allow yourself to grieve, but don’t regularly throw yourself pity parties.
Being compassionate with yourself does include allowing yourself to feel sad about all your losses, but it doesn’t mean that you should focus on what is no more. Giving excessive attention to what you’ve lost only serves to keep you stuck.
- Ask for help.
Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult things you can do. There’s no reason why you should go through it alone. Ask for help. Ask Google. Ask your friends. Ask helping professionals. Build a support structure for yourself with the goal of helping you recover from your divorce as thoroughly and quickly as possible.
- Don’t dwell on the past.
There are three thoughts about the past that typically trip up people healing from divorce. They want to understand exactly why their marriage ended. They beat themselves up for what they could have, should have or would have done. They blame their ex exclusively for everything that happened.
Dwelling on the past keeps you there. Just like you can’t drive a car forward by staring in the rearview mirror, you can’t move your life forward if you’re focusing on the past. You can’t change the past. The best you can do is learn from it.
- View the failure of your marriage as simply an important lesson about relationships.
You and your ex were in a relationship that didn’t make it. The relationship failed and you can learn from it – if you choose to.
Once you decide to learn from your failed marriage instead of labeling yourself as a failure, you will regain confidence in yourself and your ability to have a successful relationship in the future.
- Stop viewing yourself as a victim.
It’s so easy to feel like a victim when you divorce. Yet that’s the worst thing you can do. (I struggled a lot with victim mentality when I got divorced.)
When you view yourself as a victim you deny yourself the strength and power you have and need to get over your divorce. Change your story and take responsibility for what you did (or didn’t do) that contributed to the end of your marriage.
- Neutralize toxic people.
It’s often your ex who’s poisonous, but there are plenty of others who can be toxic too. Learning how to step away from their drama (and hatred) is one of the most important ways you can move beyond your divorce.
- Embrace change.
There’s no two ways about it: Divorce = Change. The longer you fight the necessary changes, the longer you’ll stay stuck.
This doesn’t mean that you should just roll over in your divorce negotiations. You should fight for what’s important, but who gets the music in the iTunes account isn’t worth fighting over.
When you look at the necessary changes as necessary and just your starting point for where you’re going to go from here, life will become easier for you.
- Accept the emotional mayhem of divorce as normal.
Nobody likes to feel out of control of their emotions and unable to predict how they’ll feel one moment to the next. But that’s how divorce is.
No matter how it feels, you’re not losing your mind. You’re just dealing with a tremendous about of stress. And stress does strange things to people.
- Take time to relax.
Because divorce is so difficult, you need to make sure you take time to relax. Relaxation is not the same thing as feeling too depressed to move. Relaxation is about purposefully taking time out of your day to chill and put everything else on pause.
One of the best ways to deal with stress (and the situational depression of divorce) is to exercise. Your exercise can be as easy as taking a walk or as extreme as training for and competing in an IronMan Triathlon.
- Get enough sleep.
Yeah, sleep is one of those pipe dreams when you’re in the throes of divorce. But the more you can get your sleeping routine and schedule back to normal the better you’ll deal with the stress of your divorce.
- Limit caffeine.
This can be really difficult to do when you’re not getting enough sleep, but too much caffeine can overstimulate you – all of you. You’re already stressed out enough dealing with the divorce and adding the fuel of caffeine to the already raging fire of stress isn’t in your best interest.
- Develop a strong, positive and flexible mindset.
This is the real goal of everyone who truly wants to learn how to recover after divorce. They know (just like you do) that it’s the habitual thoughts and inflexibility that will keep you stuck.
- Choose to work on your divorce recovery daily – no matter what set-backs may happen.
When you really want to achieve something, you set aside time to work on it daily. Do the same thing with your divorce recovery. The more focused time you spend on doing things to help you feel normal again, the faster you’ll feel that way.
- Become emotionally intelligent about yourself and others.
The better you become at recognizing what’s going on with your emotions and why you feel like you do, the more quickly you’ll be able to calm down the emotional rollercoaster ride you’ve been on.
And the better you become at understanding the emotions of others, the easier time you’ll have avoiding their triggers.
- Develop your confidence.
Divorce has a way of corroding your confidence. Regardless, you still have tremendous qualities that you can and should feel really great about. Figure out what you really like about yourself, remind yourself of these things daily, and you’ll be well on your way to building your self-confidence.
- Don’t wait for an apology to forgive.
One of the toughest parts of divorce recovery is forgiving both your ex and yourself for everything that contributed to the end of your marriage. The stumbling block that most people hit is equating forgiveness with either forgetting or approving of what happened.
That’s not what true forgiveness is. True forgiveness is all about you releasing the past so it doesn’t control you anymore. You need to remember what happened so you can learn from it and make better choices in the future.
- Remember why you’re putting so much effort into learning how to recover after divorce.
You’ll have some days when all you want to do is stay in bed, pull the covers over your head, and let the rest of the world continue without you. In these moments, if you can remember why you want to get over your divorce, you’ll start to stir the motivation you need to get through another day – no matter what you’re facing.
These 19 tasks are the basics of what it takes to deal with the end of your marriage. You’ll find that some days it’s easier to tackle the tasks than others. And that’s completely normal because divorce recovery is a process.
As you continue working on these tasks, you’ll discover that they’ll gradually become easier and that you aren’t wrestling with as much worry as you were. Once you start putting the worry about how horrible your divorce is/was behind you the more quickly you’ll rise from the blows divorce dealt you and embrace the new life that’s ahead of you because you’ve discovered how to recover after divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain of divorce and creating a post-divorce life you’re happy with. 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 by scheduling a private consultation.
Looking for more ideas about how to thrive after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Healing After Divorce.