How To Get Through A Divorce Stronger And Healthier
By: Nicole Beasley
Updated October 19, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Getting through a divorce can be extremely difficult for some people. When the separation first happens, you may feel that nothing can get better and that you are falling apart. Yet, with careful consideration, hard work, and healthy coping skills, you may come out of your divorce stronger and healthier than you were before the separation.
There are steps you can try taking as you work towards a productive outcome.
Getting Over Feelings of Regret
When you are trying to get over a divorce, you may feel a sense of regret. If you can let go of regret, you may be able to exit your divorce with a stronger emotional constitution and be ready to move on to a new phase of your life more easily. Regret can come from many sources. You may have regret for things you believe you did that may have contributed to the breakup. You might have regret for things you did or reactions you had during the divorce and separation. You may regret earlier choices in the marriage, or even the initial decision to marry your former spouse. In the case of regret, there are tools that may help you let go of regret so that you are healthier mentally and emotionally and can begin moving forward:
- Make A List
You might start by making a list of things you regret both in your marriage and throughout the divorce process (and even earlier in the relationship). You don't have to show this list to anyone. It is just for you. Try thinking carefully about all of the things you regret. You may realize as you are making your list that some of the things you regret really aren’t your burden to bear. You might also try tips for moving beyond the past experiences. For instance, you might allow yourself to feel the regret. If you find you feel responsible for behaviors you regret in the past, you might take responsibility for them. This does not mean blaming yourself but acknowledging and taking ownership of past actions. You might also practice mindfulness—focusing on the present in a positive way. This can help you move beyond the inclination to dwell on negative feelings like regret that are rooted in the past.
- Look For The Good
Focusing only on your regrets and negative emotions from the divorce may not be mentally or emotionally healthy. What can be helpful is allowing yourself to look for the good in your situation. You might look for the good memories to show that your relationship wasn't always bad. You might look for the silver lining on the cloud of divorce and find the positive outcomes that may result from this new stage of your life.
- Focus On Your Strengths
Feelings of regret can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and low confidence. This may be the case because when you regret your actions or reactions, you might tend to place blame on yourself for the divorce and its consequences. You might also feel shame or guilt. Instead of allowing yourself to enter this downward spiral, try focusing on your strengths. Simply naming them can be helpful to adjust your mindset.
- Learn From The Experience
You may have regrets for valid reasons. Maybe there are some things you did in your marriage that you aren't proud of. Instead of beating yourself up over them, try to accept responsibility and learn from the experience. You might find you can recognize your mistakes, embrace them, mull them over, and realize what you could have done differently. You can retain that information and your new feelings about that situation—and you may even be able to apply what you discover to future relationships.
Getting Through the Divorce Settlement
The process of going through a divorce can weaken your self-esteem and your overall strength. When you are tired of nasty texts between you and your ex, for instance, or when you are exhausted from fighting for what you feel is your fair share in the divorce settlement, your strength may be challenged. Some people may take the first settlement so that they can end the unpleasant process. These are personal decisions and are unique for each individual and the couple. In some cases, though, taking a less than equitable divorce settlement just so that the process will end can also take away your sense of strength and might leave you with further regrets. A licensed mental health care work, a lawyer, or a mediator who specializes in the dissolution of marriage may be able to guide you.
Ways to Maintain Your Strength During and After the Divorce
Maintaining strength can keep you healthy and give you the endurance that may make your split with your spouse as smooth as possible. The more smoothly the divorce proceedings go, the easier it might be to move on after divorce and come out stronger and healthier on the other side. Having a divorce go smoothly usually requires communication, cooperation, mediation, and taking care of yourself. If you could benefit from support, licensed mental health professionals are available help you with these behaviors.
Expect A Long Process
While you may wish your divorce would be over quickly, it may be more realistic to recognize that it can take longer than you would like. Some divorce cases last for more than a year (or beyond) before they are settled either in or out of court. The mediation sessions can be grueling and very difficult emotionally. In addition to preparing ahead of time, it is a good idea to take practical steps to make these long sessions more bearable. For instance, you might wear comfortable clothing, stay hydrated, and try to get enough sleep.
Maintain Your Health
It can be easy to let healthy habits slide as the stress of the separation and divorce continues. Making conscious efforts to eat right, maintain an exercise routine, and get plenty of sleep can help you feel better physically and mentally. It can be more difficult to be emotionally and mentally strong if you feel tired, worn down, or malnourished.
When It Comes to Finances, Try to Think Practically
When you are going through the financial challenges of divorce proceedings or mediation, you might try to purposefully think in financial terms rather than emotionally. You may be emotional or feel overwrought but letting that affect your decision about a potential settlement can impact your future. It may be wise to talk to a financial planner or advisor about how different settlement situations will look in the long term.
Try Not to Obsess
Often a divorce can seem to take over your entire life. In this case, trying to control or interrupt a stream of negative thoughts can be most helpful. Incorporating plenty of time with friends and family that doesn't involve discussing your breakup or divorce may be a positive activity, as is taking the time to do other things you enjoy.
Focus On The Future
One positive thing you can do to remain strong during your divorce is to focus on the future instead of on past transgressions or current negative emotions. Focusing on the future can help you power through what may be the unpleasantness of the present.
Connecting with a therapist can be very helpful. Getting emotional support and having someone to talk to through the divorce and beyond can help you process your feelings and thoughts so that you can address the past, face the present, and be ready to move on in the future. Divorce support groups may also be effective. Friends and family members can also be a source of support. But remember that they are not likely to be marriage or mental health experts, so sometimes just enjoying their company and spending time with them without focusing on the divorce can offer you a needed break.
How Long Does It Take To Get Over Divorce?
The length of time it will take for you to get over your divorce and come out on the other side stronger and healthier depends on each individual. It may also depend on factors such as how long you were married, whether you have children, whether the divorce was a surprise, whether you or your partner were unfaithful or dishonest, who initiated the divorce, and more. The average time to get over a divorce may be one year for every five to seven years of marriage, although this number can vary widely from individual to individual and from situation to situation.
Moving on after divorce can be difficult but is also possible, and you can come out of it healthier and stronger. You may, for instance, learn to embrace yourself as an individual rather than as a part of a couple. When you focus on who you are as a person and appreciate your individual traits and strengths, you may find you feel stronger and can move forward with your life.
Treasure Your Gifts
Throughout a marriage, you may begin to identify as a couple, which can be healthy. However, if you began to overlook your individual gifts, such as all of your great qualities and how they impact your life and those of others, you might want to learn to focus on those positive traits. When you have a full appreciation of what you have to offer the world, you may find yourself on a more positive course to move on.
You might try doing something extra for yourself every day, even if it is just for 10 minutes. For example, you might read a book, take a longer shower or a bubble bath, get a massage, have a soothing cup of tea, or do something else that you truly enjoy and that brings you positive feelings.
Moving on may depend on letting go. You might find that you need to make concerted efforts to not get stuck in feelings of resentment or despair. You may find it helpful to let go of judgment, bitterness, and other negative feelings and to focus on embracing the path that lies ahead.
Find What Makes You Happy
What truly makes you happy? Beyond what you do for your friends, family, and children—and what you may have done for your ex-spouse—what are you happy doing and who are you happy being? You might try to find those things that make you happy and are just for you and embrace them fully. You can try doing small things that will make you happy every day, and perhaps plan larger things as you look forward to the future. Focusing on your happiness, not just the happiness of others but along with it, can make you feel stronger and more positive.
Moving On From Divorce
In the end, the process of divorce can be painful, but you can come out a stronger person. There are clearly many ways that divorce can impact your life. There are also ways to handle those challenges and changes in strong and healthy ways. There are many areas of personal growth. The following are suggestions for four areas that you might focus on strengthening:
As you go through your divorce, you may find that you’ll relearn how to make decisions and undertake other things on your own as an individual rather than as a couple. At first, there may be a learning curve and even some discomfort. You might not have confidence in trusting your instincts. However, once you embrace the idea that you may very well know what is best for you, you can experience a big boost to your self-confidence. This can help you in many areas of your life, including future relationships.
2. Practicing Thankfulness
Going through a divorce may leave you with a profound sense of loss, and it is something that you may need to grieve fully in order to move on and be stronger for the experience. Instead of dwelling on loss, it can be uplifting and good for your mood to practice thankfulness (often called gratitude) very consciously and mindfully. You can start by looking closely at the things you have to be thankful for in life, even if they are small. Expressing gratitude daily can make you stronger, more resilient, and more optimistic.
3. Embracing Your Individuality
When you get married, part of your identity may become being part of a couple. After divorce, the time to find yourself and embrace your individuality may be right. You might find it helpful to give yourself permission to do so unapologetically, without excuses or explanations, and without feelings of guilt. You deserve to be the you that makes you happy and strong.
4. Your Sense of Empathy
If you look at divorce from an angle of growth, you may see that it has helped strengthen your empathy. Empathy is being able to sense or feel others’ emotions . When you have gone through something emotional, it can be exhausting, but it can also give you a new perspective on emotions in general. You may find yourself being more sensitive to the emotions of others, which is a first step towards compassion—which can make you and others feel connected and be very meaningful.
What You Can Do To Recover
If you are trying to cope with your divorce and feel that finding strength and happiness on your own is a challenge, it can help talk to a therapist or counselor who can support you and offer you tools to cope with trying times. There are many options for connecting with a licensed mental health professional. At ReGain, therapy and counseling can be convenient, affordable, accessible, and easy to maintain. There are ReGain therapists who specialize in relationship counseling and divorce, and they can help you through this process so that you come out stronger and healthier.
“Dr. Anstadt is amazing. I appreciate him always reaching out to make sure things are going smoothly in between our sessions. He follows up and genuinely cares about my situation. I would recommend Dr. Anstadt to anyone who is seeking insight on coparenting and new relationships after divorce. Thank you for everything!”
“Lisheyna is amazing person with really beautiful insights. I was struggling with my separation and she helped me to regain new insights which helped to become friends with my ex-wife again and also understand her perspective. I am grateful to Lisheyna for her support and would highly recommend her to anyone seeking any kind of personal or relationship counseling.”
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