By Sandra Hughes, adapted from Silvernest
Navigating a divorce is stressful and unpredictable. Regular exercise and a healthy diet go a long way in managing stress and making us feel a whole lot better in general. Maintaining healthy habits and taking care of ourselves is vital during this uncertain time.
My Journey to Being Well
Around the time that I separated in 2014, I read an article about staying healthy during a divorce. I had started a holistic health care regimen while I was in graduate school, and, just as that regimen helped alleviate the stress and pressure of school, it stood to reason it would help reduce the stress and pressure of the divorce process. So, I continued my health and wellness path, switching modalities as needed, based upon how I was feeling and what I needed at the time.
For example, when I first began my holistic journey, I adopted a daily meditation practice. That was fine-tuned later when I took a Spirituality in Leadership class in business school; then, I started taking classes to learn Qigong, the meditation practice that goes with Tai Chi. Now I do a simple 10-minute breathing/meditation exercise every morning and set my intention for the day. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it is a simple, grounding experience.
Exercise is key. I try to walk or use the elliptical every day, preferably in the morning, after my meditation exercise, and before I start checking and getting involved in answering and sending emails. If I exercise first thing, then I’ve done it and don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.
Get Yourself a Team
My wellness support team covers the rest of my wellness regimen. Much of the stress and unpredictability of a divorce can be alleviated from the beginning if you put a wellness support team in place, and I highly advise it. The wellness team members are there in their expert capacity in each of their modalities to help you deal with the stress and intense emotion caused by the divorce.
My suggestion is to get referrals for all of these team members from people that you trust, family, friends or colleagues, and then interview each to make sure that the person is the right fit for you. It is essential that you feel genuinely supported by each of your team members.
The Four Members of your Wellness Team
Therapist (LFMT, MFT)
Hopefully, your divorce attorney or mediator has suggested that you start seeing a therapist; I am suggesting that you do. There will be a lot of emotion during a divorce process and diving deep into the whys and hows of your relationship. A therapist is the best person to work through all of that with you.
Massage is a great stress reliever. I started having regular massages about eight years ago, and it has made a world of difference relieving stress during my divorce.
Acupuncturist / Chiropractor
Either or both of these practitioners help relieve the stress that manifests itself in different parts of our bodies, most often our neck, shoulders and spine. We tend to tighten all of these when we are stressed and in “fight or flight mode.” I hadn’t been to either for 30 years because my first experience with both was not that great: huge needles at the acupuncturist and intense bone-cracking at the chiropractor. I recently learned that there are acupuncturists who use little thin needles with significant effect and a chiropractor who uses less severe bone-cracking techniques. I am now a huge fan of both, and I receive treatments regularly. Both have done wonders helping me to achieve stress relief! Also, it is often possible to find practitioners who are also covered by health insurance.
A certified coach plays a different role than a therapist. A coach is more like a mentor, a person with whom you discuss your goals and your plan for achieving them. In the process, you explore your values and life purpose. A coach will guide you and help you to be accountable for what you say you want/are going to do. Together, you will create a vision of your reinvented life.
My wellness team told me they were pleased that I was proactive and preventative in keeping myself healthy during this time in my divorce, instead of waiting to seek them out when the process was over, and I was ill from the stress of it all. That, unfortunately, is what most of their patients did. If you are experiencing a divorce, I encourage you not to be MOST patients – and I celebrate your continued path to health and well-being.