Divorce is a difficult process to go through. It’s emotionally fraught and even the most civilised of break-ups can take a real mental toll, take it from someone that’s been through it! However, there are active steps you can take to start the process of healing and rebuilding your life. Read on to find out more.
Coming to terms with the fact that your marriage has broken down, for whatever reason, can take time and there are often lots of negative emotions you’ll experience that will need to be dealt with along the way; guilt, shame and sadness being just a few of them.
When a relationship has broken down as a direct result of unreasonable behaviour however, you might be subject to a whole range of additional emotions. Anger and bitterness are extremely common and can fuel irrational or self-destructive behaiour.
It’s imperative that you find a way to move past any negative, unhealthy feelings in order to start the process of healing and finding happiness again.
9 Self Help Tips to Heal & Find Happiness Following Divorce
1. Don’t ignore how you feel
Ignoring your true feelings makes it easier for negative emotions like resentment or anger to fester and grow. Gnawing away at your subconscious, they can have a devastating impact on your wellbeing, causing anxiety and even depression to blossom.
A great tip is to recognise how you’re feeling and evaluate that feeling as objectively as you can. It’s possible that some of your feelings are unfounded, whilst others may be completely justified and natural!
Allowing yourself to feel and giving yourself time and permission to grieve the end of the relationship is healthy and doing this will ultimately lead to acceptance, helping you to move forwards through the healing process.
2. Remember that change is always difficult
Divorce generally means a lot of change and upheaval. Perhaps you’re having to move out of the family or marital home. You might have more financial pressure now you’re single and if you have children, there will be a whole host of issues to take care of too.
Change can sometimes feel overwhelming so it’s a great idea to tackle things methodically, write a to-do list and instead of feeling overwhelmed by your uncertain future, take it one task at a time and it will feel less scary and far more manageable.
3. Ask for support from friends and family
If you have friends and family you can lean on during this time, then make sure you do. Arrange a get together, go out for drinks or just pop round for a natter. Turning to those closest to you for support could also stop you feeling less lonely and isolated too.
Seeking support or asking for help is not a sign of weakness and you’ll probably find that those closest to you are eager to help you out however they can, even if that means just providing practical advice or a sympathetic ear.
4. Don’t keep on providing fuel for your negative emotions
Anger is a powerful emotion and if you feel you’ve been wronged, it can be difficult to get past the feeling of intense, overwhelming anger that you might feel. It’s imperative however that you find a healthy way to cope with such emotions.
Don’t be tempted to follow your ex-partner on social media for example. Watching them continue with their life, seemingly unaffected by the breakdown of the relationship is guaranteed to fuel any anger or sorrow that you feel.
Nothing you do now can change the past, but you do have the power to shape your future
Likewise, any feelings of regret you might have may increase if you keep on exposing yourself to your ex as you look at photographs of them, wishing they were still there.
Dwelling on what went wrong or the circumstances that lead to your divorce will only serve to keep you trapped in a negative head space that won’t facilitate your healing, so work on acceptance.
Nothing you do now can change the past, but you do have the power to shape your future, so it’s time to look forwards and focus on that.
5. Seek professional help
If you’ve given yourself time and you’re still struggling to come to terms with the divorce, it may be that you need to seek some professional help.
Counselling can teach you new skills and coping mechanisms to help you heal, whilst your GP will be able to help you if you feel that stress, anxiety or depression has taken hold.
6. It is possible to be friends
You may no longer love each other in the way you once did, but it doesn’t follow that just because you’re divorced that all your feelings towards your ex-partner will just disappear.
It really is possible to maintain a friendship after divorce (I know, I managed it), after all you’ve probably spent the last few years being there for each other, there’s no need to sever all ties as soon as the Decree Absolute comes through.
If you have children together or lots of mutual friends, then making an effort to maintain a civil relationship will make life easier and far more pleasant for everyone.
7. Remember that you will find happiness again
After spending what could have been many years together, it can be daunting to imagine getting on with life with them no longer by your side.
Divorce however can provide the ideal opportunity for growth and self discovery. Decision making becomes yours and yours alone and with no one else to defer to and no one else to compromise with, divorce really can be a liberating, affirming experience.
Take some time to focus on what makes you happy. Perhaps your role in the relationship meant you gave up certain things, either to spend more time with the other person, to take care of the family or you simply stopped doing things you used to like because your partner didn’t enjoy them.
Now is the ideal time to rediscover what makes you happy and make plans for the future which will help propel you through the healing process too.
Focus on filling your time with things that you enjoy. Visit friends and family more. If you don’t have many friends, or all your friends were mutual friends, now’s a great time to get out there and meet new people by joining a club or taking up a new hobby.
8. Tackle loneliness head on
Feeling lonely is rarely talked about in relation to divorce, but loneliness can be crushingly difficult to deal with as it has such a big impact on overall mental health.
Having faced both divorce and acute loneliness, I can tell you that being kind to yourself (learn to spot and stop any negative self-talk) and making decisions that lead to you being more sociable can really help.
I found myself talking to random people in the supermarket, chatting more to strangers at the gym and even having full-blown conversations with my cats after work each evening just to break the unnatural silence, but it all helped!
9. Let go and don’t let your past write your future
It’s very common for people to develop issues with trust following a relationship break down and this can seriously impact behaviour, and whilst approaching any potential new relationship with caution, especially in the age of internet dating is sensible, don’t let what you’ve experienced in the past sabotage a new relationship.
Betrayal in particular is a difficult experience to bounce back from, so whilst your past experiences will inevitably shape you, use that wisdom to your advantage without it turning you into a guarded cynic.
There’s much to be said for a positive mental attitude and whilst divorce is a difficult process to go through, with the right outlook, you will get through it, you will heal and you will find happiness again.