As anyone who’s been through divorce knows, it’s an incredibly stressful time. If the only stresses you had to worry about were due to divorce that would be one thing, but the real problem is that the rest of your life doesn’t stop just because you’re getting divorced. All of your usual day-to-day stressors (work, traffic, kids’ schedules, other family demands, and the news) somehow become even larger when you’re dealing with the big D.
In this first of three articles on minimizing stress when you’re dealing with divorce, we’ll be focusing on renewing your energy.
When’s the last time you thought about where your energy comes from? It wouldn’t surprise me if you’d never thought of it before. After all, it’s something that most of us take for granted. We assume we’ll have the energy to get through our day each and every day. We just accept that some days it’s easier to get through the day than others.
The thing is, when you’re going through divorce on top of everything else it can be more difficult than usual to get through your day. When I started consistently having trouble having enough energy to get through my day while I was going through my divorce 10 years ago, I got interested in how I could boost my energy and that led me to wondering where my energy came from.
What I learned was that our energy comes from our psychology and our physiology. Yup, it comes from a combination of how you think and how your body responds (which ultimately means how you treat your body). It’s just as simple and as hard as that.
Luckily, the concept is pretty easy to understand. The more positive and calm your thoughts and the more healthy your body is the better you’ll be able to deal with stress. Unfortunately, the concept can be pretty difficult to implement if you’ve not paid much attention to your thoughts or your general health prior to divorce becoming a reality in your life. To help you out, I’ve got five quick tips that can give you a head start to renewing your energy even in the midst of divorce.
1. Start your day with a positive thought. Lots of people get out of bed dreading the day, but if you can start your day with a positive thought it will go a long way toward lessening the stress you have all day long.
Ten years ago, I was one of those people. I felt like I was on a treadmill of needing to meet one responsibility after another with a few catastrophes thrown in for variety. Learning to wake up with a positive thought (or two) really made a difference for me. It helped me get past the plague of depressive thoughts about being divorced and on to better things.
2. Schedule at least one break for yourself every day where you have ZERO responsibilities and ZERO interruptions. The break can even be as short as 5 minutes. The important thing is that you take it.
Ten years ago, I didn’t know what it was to have a real break. I spent almost every waking moment either working or worrying – neither of which was very helpful to renewing my energy. Learning to take a real break was hard for me, but by constantly trying out different things I realized that by allowing myself to have a time and space where I had zero responsibilities or interruptions that I felt tons better. I had more energy to go back to working (and worrying).
3. End your day with gratitude. Allowing yourself to appreciate the good that happened during the day goes a long way toward allowing you to have restorative sleep at night.
When I was going through my divorce, I used to have terrible nightmares. I’d dream about the worst case scenarios of all the things I had gone to sleep worrying about. As a result of the nightmares, I got very little sleep which just made life that much harder the next day. When I learned to change my thoughts at night from the worry to something more positive, the frequency of my nightmares decreased dramatically and I slept better. Of course when I got better sleep, I felt more energetic the next day.
4. Eat well and regularly. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat” before. There’s definitely some truth to that phrase, but when you’re going through divorce it’s even more powerfully truthful. Most people change the way they eat when they’re feeling stressed. They’ll over eat or eat “junk food” to soothe themselves or they’ll “forget” to eat in an attempt to gain some control. Either path leads to decreased energy. They’re either fueling their bodies with junk or not fueling their bodies at all.
I went the control route when I was dealing with the big D. I severely curtailed my eating and tried to live on next to nothing. I became anorexic and let me tell you that starving yourself is not the way to increase your energy! I felt exhausted and anxious most of the time. Luckily, I had a trainer who literally got in my face about being anorexic and got me to start eating healthfully again. It made a HUGE difference in my energy level and my mood. I actually started to feel happy again.
5. Get some exercise daily. When you’re going through divorce, it’s really easy to believe you don’t have time for exercise because there are just so many other things needing your attention. Exercise doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym or the yoga studio, it can be as simple as taking a walk around the block, playing Frisbee with your kids and dog or even doing 5 jumping jacks. Exercise is anything that gets your body moving in a way you don’t usually do. The wonderful thing is that the novelty of the movement will energize you.
I was a glutton for punishment 10 years ago. I took everything to the extreme and would work out daily. What I learned from that was exercise doesn’t have to be work. It can be fun. The point of getting some exercise daily is just to move your body and change your thoughts. The wonderful thing I discovered about changing my thoughts was that I felt better and more energetic!
These 5 tips for renewing your energy are simple. Hopefully, they’re simple enough that you’re ready to try one or more of them out for yourself. I know you’ll start to notice improved energy levels and less stress once you implement at least one of these tips daily regardless of where you are in your divorce process.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Eating well and regularly is a challenge my clients always face, so Your Functional Divorce Assignment will focus on this tip.
Take the following quiz to get an idea of how you might eat well and regularly.
Select one answer for each question.
1. On average, every day I have ________ servings of caffeine (energy drinks, coffee, sodas, tea).
A. More than 5
B. 2 – 5
C. Less than 2
2. I eat some protein with every meal or snack.
3. I eat _____ meals each day.
4. I drink _______ glasses of water each day.
C. 8 or more
Ideally, C is the better answer for each of the questions. If you’ve answered A for any of these questions you might want to consider changing things so that you can answer B instead and I’ll bet that you just might feel a bit more energetic when you do.
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 interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
If you’re looking for more help on how to navigate the challenges of your life now, read more articles about Life After Divorce.
Last week, one of my dear friends sent me a message. He sends messages just about every day to his friends to inspire and comfort. Jon’s one of those guys with a really big heart who knows how to make sure his friends really feel how much he cares for them.
This one message he sent to me last week really got me to thinking. It read, “…doubt is the rust of life. Doubt holds you landlocked in paralysis unable to move either way. The time you spent doubting is the time you are not alive. So, rid yourself of the doubt, take that step one way or another, your heart knows what is best, but take it right now.”
What an incredible message! It was like Jon had looked right at me and told me exactly what I needed to hear and what I knew I needed to share with you.
Doubt is one of the major immobilizing emotions of divorce. Uncertainty comes in all kinds of different shapes and sizes during divorce. There’s doubt about whether or not the decision to divorce is the right one, there’s doubt about how to best help the kids understand the divorce, there’s doubt about what life will be like during and after the legal proceedings and fees along with all kinds of other self-doubts.
The doubts that come with divorce are usually an indication of fear and a need to reconcile your previous way of life or doing things with the way things are or even could be in the future. It’s normal to have doubts and fears when your life changes dramatically. However, they can also become debilitating and that’s definitely something to avoid.
Instead, doubts are best used as a way to become aware that there’s something deeper to be explored and brought out to the light. One of the quickest ways I know to allow yourself to bring that something deeper up to the surface is through a thoughtful relaxation exercise. I’ll share the exercise with you in Your Functional Divorce Assignment.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, start to imagine all the stress and strain from your body draining out. Draining from the top of your head, down through you neck, your torso, your legs and out through the bottom of your feet deep, deep into the ground.
Continue breathing deeply. Every time you exhale imagine more of the stress and strain in your body draining out through the bottoms of your feet deep, deep into the ground.
Enjoy the sensation of your body beginning to relax. Your neck and shoulders are loosening up. You’re sitting deeper into the chair and your entire body is relaxed as the stress and strain continue to drain out of your body.
When you’re feeling calm and relaxed, gently ask yourself about your doubt and what decision you need to make. As you remain relaxed, an answer to your question will emerge. It may or may not be the answer you were expecting, but you will have an answer that you can move forward with to dispel your doubt.
I know doing this technique on your own can be a bit challenging. So, if you’re serious about wanting to dispel your doubt and would like some help, let me know. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 817-993-0561.
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 schedule a private consultation with me.