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Divorce Stress Is Real: What It Is & How to Handle It

Nearly 50 percent of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation. Unfortunately, divorce ranks as the second most common cause of depression among Americans. Stress caused by separation can be handled in many different ways - and it's not always easy to make healthy choices. Learn how to handle divorce stress by using these tactics to make better choices when going through a divorce.

Picture of a distressed man learning how to cope with divorce stress

What is Divorce Stress

Divorce is a stressful, life-changing event that hurts like nothing else. Feelings of betrayal, anger, and loss can bring out the very worst in otherwise good people. The emotional strain of a major breakup can leave you vulnerable in many different ways, but one common denominator is that it causes stress to everyone involved!

Divorce stress is a product of separating from your partner - and if not kept in check, may cause ongoing feelings of anxiety. During a divorce, it may feel easy or even good to make unhealthy choices but now is more important than ever to take care of yourself and to act with dignity and respect - even when it feels nearly impossible to. The good news is that you can overcome the flood of negative emotions by making a few simple changes in your life.

Overcoming the Stress of a Divorce

Our divorce law firm in Raleigh has helped thousands of individuals and families sort their differences. While the process of divorcing a spouse is always emotionally draining and stressful, there are a few things you can do to release tension in a productive manner. Here are the best ways to manage your stress during a divorce, and after the dust has settled.

1. Surround yourself with the right people.

Remember the old adage, "You are the company you keep." Surround yourself with friends, family, and colleagues that respect you and will treat your situation with kindness, patience, and empathy. Find people that hold you accountable if you spend too much time "venting" or talking about the situation. You want to move on - not dig your heels in.

Some people can't help but be spiteful, petty, or negative, and are attracted to drama like a moth to a flame. Few things contribute more to self-pity and anger than family and friends that engage with your personal life in order to participate, or relish, in your drama. Negative people, like negative emotions, are damaging to your state of mind and these are the last people you need to be hanging around when you are dealing with divorce.

These types of people are dangerous, as it may seem that they are being good friends by allowing you to share your situation when in reality, they may just want to feed off of your drama. Most people are well-intentioned, however, there are people that use others to indulge their own feelings and pent-up emotions. Do not be someone else's reality show.

Look for people that allow you to talk about your thoughts and emotions, but also keep you in check. If you spend too much time talking about your divorce, it will take longer to psychologically accept, process, and move on from it. People that want you to be healthy will hold you accountable by helping you be aware of your thoughts and toxic patterns. Find happy, uplifting, positive people to spend time with and talk to.

2. Exercise to Cope with Stress

When stress or depression strikes, a weight and a treadmill usually don't spring to mind. But statistically speaking, exercise is one of the best ways to handle divorce stress. 62% of adults who exercise or walk to manage stress say it's extremely effective. Yet 43% of adults who report exercising specifically to help manage stress admit to skipping their workout in the past month due to stress.

So, does that mean you should start training for the next iron man contest and hit the gym for three hours a day? No. Do not overdo it and do not take on something you know you are not going to follow through with. Adopt a manageable exercise routine that you can incorporate into your schedule.

The key to managing your stress levels is in balancing your hormones - and working out releases endorphins while strengthening the neural pathways that transmit happiness hormones. Over time, your workouts will eventually remodel your brain's reward system, leading to more efficient dopamine pathways and receptors.

Two people in a room doing yoga to cope with divorce stress

Easy Workout Ideas

If you are not into exercise, start simple. There's no need to sign up for a gym membership or commit to unachievable goals! One of the best ways to help boost your happiness is to create a to-do list of easy goals that you can accomplish each day. These easy workout ideas can help you manage your divorce stress in a healthy way:

  • 10-15 minute daily walks
  • Go swimming
  • Take a beginner's yoga or dance class - or find a video online to follow at home
  • Invite friends, family, or co-workers to play basketball, tennis, or volleyball
  • Invite someone to go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding

Pick a physical activity that you think is either fun or tolerable. The key is to make yourself commit to doing something physical every day. While it will not fix all of your problems, you will feel better within a week - if you stick to some type of daily movement.

3. Accept, Forgive, and Move On

It's not always easy to forgive someone when you feel that they have wronged you. But if you're holding onto anger, you're only harming yourself. Letting go of anger is much easier said than done, but after consulting your divorce lawyer and the dust has cleared, forgiveness is the only way that you'll truly be able to move on in a healthy way. This is the part many people struggle with, so we've compiled a few ways to help you manage your thoughts and stress during a divorce.

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to suffer its side effects.

Get Perspective on Being Wronged by Other People

Gain some perspective on what happened. It's okay to feel angry and hurt. Allow yourself to process those emotions and learn from them. Be aware of any patterns or harmful thoughts that you feel yourself allowing to happen. What we have to do then, is work through that anger and hurt, and let it go. Anger and pain can be dangerous and life-changing when taken to extremes.

Many people find that writing out their thoughts and feelings or talking to a therapist can be helpful when trying to make sense of a traumatic event.

Don't Forget Who You Are

It's easy to succumb to negative thoughts and emotions - and they can even change your outlook on life, or who you are as a person. But you don't have to be a victim of this event. If you have been betrayed in some way, accept what happened. It is not going to change. 

No one is faultless or perfect in any relationship. Accept that you may have some responsibility for what happened too. Not that it is your "fault," but we all have faults that contribute to marriage problems. We have all lied and betrayed others in some way. All of us.

Find a Way to Forgive

How do we forgive? Forgiveness does not mean you have to get back together or trust someone again, just accept other people's humanity and faults, and show some grace towards them. Show some grace to yourself as well. Stop dwelling on the negative things that happened. If you were betrayed, the memory will probably always hurt, but forgiveness makes things better for you, so work hard to let it go.

Move On from Anger

How do you move on from anger, bitterness and negativity? I hate to sound like Tony Robbins here, but in order to have a positive future, you have to create one. This does not mean jumping in the sack with someone at the first opportunity or charging into a new relationship. That is probably the last thing you should do. What I mean is move onto to a new positive chapter of your life. Now is the time to take that trip you always wanted to. Write the book you have been planning. Join a bowling league.

Take a step towards a new life, something that you have always thought about or sort of wanted to try but have not. If you find yourself struggling, talk to a counselor or therapist. It's part of moving on and realizing that all changes are not bad, and there are fun and exciting things in life out there waiting for you.

Contact a Raleigh Family Attorney For Support

If you are in need of an experienced divorce lawyer in Raleigh who will work to help you move forward and protect your best interests, we can help. Over the years, our Raleigh family law firm has helped hundreds of individuals work through the divorce process. We are always available to discuss the conditions of your case. Give us a call at 919-301-8843 or complete the contact form below.

Statistics were gathered from the American Psychological Association.

Protecting your Privacy ~ Your privacy is our primary concern. At the Doyle Law Group, we understand the importance of protecting your privacy and will never share your contact information with a 3rd party. Contacting our law firm does not imply any form of attorney-client relationship.

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Protecting your Privacy ~ Your privacy is our primary concern. At the Doyle Law Group, we understand the importance of protecting your privacy and will never share your contact information with a 3rd party. Contacting our law firm does not imply any form of attorney-client relationship. By submitting this form, you are consenting to our privacy policy.
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