When I became a single mom, I wanted to figure out how to be the best “me” possible. I wanted to take care of myself so my daughter would have a strong mom to look up to. One of the memorable moments of clarity came to me when someone said, “You need to get on with your stability!” The word “stability” grabbed my attention. With all the pain and loss we were going through, it changed my focus after divorce from brokenness to stability.
Research shows that one can regain stability two years post-divorce. The bad news is that the first year will be the hardest year ever. Each “first” will carry an emotional weight that is unfamiliar and often very difficult. The good news is that after the first year, the pain, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion can begin to subside as you get into a healthy rhythm of your new life. Self-care is critical every day of each year. Here are ten ways to care for yourself in your life after divorce.
Care for yourself emotionally.
1. Seek out a safe and healthy person to talk to on a regular basis. This could be a therapist, a coach, a pastor, or a well-trusted friend. This person doesn’t add to the pain but listens with wisdom and love. Don’t isolate yourself and try to survive alone. We are made for community and healing happens best when we walk with others on the path.
2. Consider attending DivorceCare or a small group for divorce adjustment. Check into what support is offered by a local church.
3. Become familiar with the signs of depression and talk to your counselor or doctor. Often one needs extra care for the first year or two after divorce.
4. Make a “fun plan” when kids are away instead of spending the time alone.
5. Pick one or two activities to do with your children that will help you bond. Explore activities with your children that do not include electronics or television. Find something active and life-giving to do with them, no matter what ages they are. The laughter and the memories of this time will add to the well-being you experience together.
Care for yourself physically.
6. Get regular sleep and if you find yourself struggling to sleep, talk to your doctor.
7. Walk! Make it a point to get outside a few times a week for a brisk walk around the neighborhood or local park. Simply being in the sunshine helps increase your vitamin D level and gets your cardio system going. Consider using some of your walking time as an opportunity to talk (and listen) to God.
8. Try a new activity like bowling, swimming, yoga, or biking. Push yourself outside your comfort zone and try something new until you find at least one fun activity you truly enjoy.
9. Eating healthy has priceless rewards for everyone. Enjoying a relaxed, healthy dinner at the table with your children several times a week will feed your body and your soul.
10. Slow down. Children need their time with you and that often gets overlooked after divorce. Simply turning off the TV and tablets and inviting the kids into the kitchen to help prepare dinner can help create a peaceful space where they see that you are available to talk.
What one thing can you do to enjoy the journey of creating a new and stable version of life for yourself and your children?
Tammy Daughtry, MMFT is an author of the book, Co-parenting Works! Helping Your Children Thrive after Divorce as well as the creator of the DVD, One Heart, Two Homes: Co-parenting Kids of Divorce to a Positive Future.