The effect of divorce on your mental health

Divorce and separation is an emotional journey with legal and financial consequences. Whilst the legal and financial processes are usually well considered, the emotional journey is often neglected. If you’ve been through a divorce, you’ve likely experienced the turbulent emotions a separation brings.

Perhaps what is less well known is how long it can take to emotionally recover. Stats show that it can take up to two years to get over a divorce. Divorcing is often referred to as the second most traumatic life experience after the death of a loved one. It makes sense to take care of yourself during this time. Your mental health is important, and you can only protect your family’s wellbeing if you are well yourself.

Mental health and divorce

Source: The Institute for Social and Economic Research

Here are some amicable tips on how to prevent the negative impact on your mental health.

  1. Don’t rush in to divorce and don’t rush your partner

Take a moment to plot where you are on the chart below. As a general rule, the ‘initiator’ of the divorce is usually further along this curve. Progressing too fast usually ends in conflict and can feel frustrating if you’re the one further along this change curve. Rushing things can also be expensive, if you’re not entirely sure what you want and are arguing, this can mean prolonging the process and making changes halfway through.

  1. Find help

If you feel low and need help, be assured that there is so much out there to help you.

  • Visit your GP – cognitive behavioural therapy is no drug option that you’ll likely be offered
  • Try counselling – This website will help you find local counsellors in your local area
  • Get help online – you can also get help from online therapists or from online forums who have people just like you trying to navigate the emotional journey
  1. Help raise awareness

There are still taboos around divorce and separation that lead people to feel ashamed about the breakdown of the marriage. Whatever you do, don’t be hard on yourself or bottle things up. Divorce is a sad thing, not a bad thing. Speaking up about how you feel is not only good for your mental health but will also give strength to others who are going through the same thing.

  1. Take care of yourself physically

Divorce can be a stressful, uncertain time so distracting yourself by doing positive things for your body and mind will help reduce the negative impact stress can have. It’s very easy to distract yourself with alcohol, food, staying out late etc but the key is, that’s fine just not all the time. Remember, when you’re very stressed you’re more likely to make rash decisions. So, focus on this as an incentive to moderate your blowouts and focus on your health.

Having experienced her own protracted and expensive divorce, Emma has spent the past 5 years working as a Divorce Mentor. Emma works with divorcing couples to find a pragmatic approach, thereby minimising conflict and costs.

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