Divorce inquiries have increased during the pandemic as more togetherness and less distraction have highlighted relationship cracks. Whether you find yourself on the receiving end of the “we need to talk” conversation or delivered the message to your spouse, divorce is bound to spike your anxiety. Add to that the pandemic, and it’s a recipe for worry and stress.
An anxious mind is not good at making complex divorce decisions around money, assets, and parenting, so it’s important to get your worries in check. As a two-time divorcée and a Divorce Coach, these are my favorite anxiety-busting tips:
- Get information. In divorce, information is power, and these days it’s at your fingertips. An online tool like Divorcify will create a divorce roadmap for you, as well as give you a list of vetted divorce professionals. Many lawyers have content-rich websites that will explain how divorce works in your state. And a Google search – while no substitute for legal or financial advice – will give you a place to start. What you don’t want to do is rely on friends for information. Every divorce is different, and someone else’s divorce settlement has no bearing on your situation. Friends are great for emotional support, but unless they are trained divorce professionals, avoid asking them for advice.
- Start to make lists. In divorce – particularly if you are surprised by it – you lose your sense of control. List-making helps get all of your worries out of your head and onto paper, where you can tackle them one by one. Feeling like you are organized and on top of things will help diminish your anxiety.
- Practice radical self-care. Studies show that divorce is one of the hardest things people go through, so it’s important to take care of yourself. Self-care goes well beyond taking a bubble bath or heading to a spa. One of the best ways to practice self-care is to establish really firm boundaries, and this doesn’t just apply to your ex. You can also protect your energy and heart by being firm with family, friends, office colleagues, and neighbors. If people press you for divorce details you don’t wish to share, tell them you’ve made that topic off-limits. You do not owe anyone the details of your life. Divorce is also a great time to practice saying no. You are going through divorce (in a pandemic!) so feel free to decline anything you do not want to do, guilt-free. You have enough things to worry about without adding to the list.
- Exercise and eat well. It’s important that you be in good physical condition for the mental battle ahead, so eating well and exercising are important. They are also great anxiety busters. Be careful how much sugar, caffeine, and alcohol you consume, since they can exacerbate anxious feelings. Try to automate healthy habits as much as you can. I subscribed to one of those meal planning services that shipped healthy ingredients to my door and it was worth every penny. I still go to bed in my workout clothes, so in the morning it’s a no-brainer to do some yoga. Recruit a friend to be a health accountability partner: people are always looking for ways to help.
- Avoid social media. When you are going through divorce, the last thing you need is to see your frenemy from high school celebrating her anniversary. It’s OK to unplug from all social media for a while. (And, no, you don’t have to announce your divorce or planned absence. Unless you are a TikTok or Instagram celebrity, it’s OK to just ghost.) If you really miss the scroll, set up a new Instagram or Pinterest account and just follow self-care, cute animal, and positive thinking feeds. You only want to consume media that makes you feel less anxious. It’s also a good idea to avoid the news, since it’s designed to raise your anxiety with all the “breaking news” reports.
- Talk to divorce professionals. Start to talk to divorce professionals to find out how they can help you. As a first step, I recommend talking to a lawyer who is trained in mediation or collaborative law. Based on the anticipated levels of conflict and complexity in your divorce, they can give you some options for the right divorce process for you. If you have the financial means, talk to a trained Divorce Coach. They can really support you through your divorce and save you time and money. They can also recommend specialist divorce professionals like realtors, parenting coordinators, or accountants who can address a lot of your worries.
- Laugh. It’s hard to feel two emotions at the same time, so when I’m stuck in a worry cycle, I throw on a funny movie or podcast: the zanier the better.
- Sleep. The biggest anxiety buster is getting enough sleep. After my second divorce, I swore by a weighted blanket (it really does feel like a hug!) and melatonin gummies (check with your doctor first.) I also prepared an ideal sleeping environment: a cool and dark room, no tech distractions, and a sound machine to offset the snoring dog. If you can’t sleep, it’s hard to break the worry cycle. If you still find yourself tossing and turning, it’s worth talking to your doctor about a temporary fix.
In divorce, anxiety is part of the territory, but it does not need to control your life. Stay healthy, get informed, and be kind to yourself. If you simply can’t shake the worry, a visit to your doctor is key. The divorce stress will eventually pass, and these healthier habits will serve you well in your fabulous post-divorce life.