In my own life, I moved from a three-bedroom home in Ohio to a two-bedroom apartment in Alabama where I only knew two families. When our divorce was complete, I was thousands of dollars in debt and emotionally rung out. I wanted to make new friends and move forward with a new vision but felt fragile, vulnerable, and exhausted.
1) Take time, get rest, be alone and journal. It was crucial for me to process all the feelings and trauma of the divorce and this required time alone. Don’t be afraid to be alone and “feel”. The grief, anger, loneliness, fear may be overwhelming at times, but it is quicker to walk through the Red Sea to get to a new tomorrow than to wander around in the desert never arriving at your desired destination. Get it out, put it down on paper, talk to a counselor. There is certainly no shame in getting wise, trained help. Just be sure to choose a counselor with values similar to your own. Take a good look at where you’ve been, where you are, what you believe and where you want to go.
2) Be with supportive family and friends. It can be difficult to be around happy people, couples who are holding hands, or those who want to ask you questions. All these encounters will surface emotions in you. What’s the worst that will happen? You will cry in front of someone! Good! Let them see that your emotions are raw so they can wrap their arms around your heart and hold it for a while. My next blog post will give some suggestions for those of you who are supporting the divorced person and are not sure what would be helpful. We need you!
3) Listen to uplifting music that focuses on courage, God’s promises, hope, and a better tomorrow. I made several playlists on my phone and would listen to these songs any time I started to get down. One was empowering songs of promise and the other worship music. These songs would lift me up and remind me that God is with me and will not abandon or neglect me. He is in control, even when I am not. Avoid the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” songs that are so prevalent in our culture. You have the power to hit the off button. Choose what fills your mind.
4) Support your emotional health. I don’t know how I would have survived without my essential oils. Really! I used Valor oil every morning and night and it launched me into the day with courage and balance. I used Joy essential oil blend over my heart to lighten my mood and cheer me up. I used White Angelica as a first line of defense when encountering negative people. I used Lavender essential oil and Peace & Calming and Stress Away essential oil blends to relax or improve sleep. Most essential oils are high in antioxidants, so my cells were getting lots of oxygen and the free radicals created by stress were (and still are) being tackled and removed from action. The oils also allowed me to remove those crazy toxic substances from my world which were doing a number on my respiratory and hormonal system. Who needs to be hit from both sides with stress and toxins? I am so grateful that I was introduced to Young Living essential oils before my divorce chaos began. They have truly been and continue to be a life saver and an integral part of each day. If you’d like to know more, I am always happy to share.
5) Eat healthy and get exercise. This is not the time to sabotage your health or punish yourself by letting yourself go or stuffing your emotions with food. I had to pull myself up by my sandal straps and find people who would walk with me, join me for green smoothies and share healthy practices. Exercise diminishes stress and cortisol levels, so you can relax and sleep. So why do we just want to sleep or become a couch potato when we most need to release this stress? It can be hard to make yourself get up and go, but don’t you always, and I mean always feel better afterward? Eating more greens and whole foods means your cells are getting the nourishment and fuel they need to keep you fit and strong, so if you are eating like a rabbit, be sure it is wholesome rabbit food at least.
6) Read or listen to uplifting books. I read Jesus Calling by Sarah Young for three years straight and almost every day I felt as if the daily passage had been written just for me. It was uncanny. I encourage you to read something that will challenge you to be grateful, trust God, not give in to self-pity, and help you grow spiritually and draw closer to your loving Father.
7) Build skills, character and self-esteem. Are there skills that you realize you are lacking? Anyone else struggle with setting healthy boundaries? Then check out the classic book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. One Thousand Gifts was another powerhouse book for me as it focused my attention on gratitude rather than on my negative circumstances, self-pity or depressive thoughts. I still listen to audio personal development books in my car, on my phone, as I walk, clean or cook and am always looking for ways I can grow. Often, we have maladaptive beliefs, poor boundaries, and a need to rewire our minds to align with what God believes about us. We need to be empowered and transformed into a healthier version of ourselves. On this site, I have shared blogs on many of my favorite self-development topics (see Stuffocation, Promise of Healing, Counting Our Blessings to name a few).
9) Do something that scares you or makes you uncomfortable ever day! You are stronger than you think. Really! For me, I needed to paint the outside of a house, learn to ride a bike again, check the air in my car tires, all things that caused me a feeling of discouragement or downright panic. I felt inadequate when it came to creating a budget, understanding investments, replacing a faucet washer. These might not be your struggles, but I bet you have some areas where you lack experience and feel anxiety. Just remember, there is always the world wide web! As my sister would say to me, “Google it.” Smart woman. Or rustle up some courage and “phone a friend”.
- 8) Enjoy God’s creation. Nothing inspires and refreshes my soul like being out in nature, taking a hike, visiting the nearby bay or lake. Breathing fresh air, hearing birds sing, being stunned by a field of wild flowers, all of this is very healing and life giving. Staying in bed for days does not nourish the spirit or inspire, so get up, get dressed and go out to explore some corner of your world.
These were a few of the practices that helped me as I waded through the storm waters of my divorce. Many of these still minister to me today.
What practices have helped you?