6 Things To Do To Find Your Joy Again, Post-Divorce
Everyone has a different divorce experience. While some women or men may experience a sense of relief as well as reduced stress, most others begin this new chapter with stress, depression, and worry. In fact, if you’ve experienced depression before, you’re more likely to experience it again after separating (Men are twice as likely to experience post-divorce depression).
Regardless of where you’re at emotionally, many new divorcées are faced with the “now what?” — how do you find your happiness again? How do you identify solo to the world you exist in. And dating? For many, the date-on-demand culture has changed beyond their imagination! It’s easier for some than others, but we chatted with men and women who have been through it and came out on the other side, thriving. Here’s what they have to say.
- Reconnect with friends. You’ll want a strong support system around you during this time — and going forward! Have you lost touch with friends due to your marriage? It’s time to rekindle old friendships and create new ones so you have people you trust to turn to. These people will help carry you through the ups and downs of a major life change, and bring fresh energy, excitement, kindness, and laughs when you need it most.
- Get into (or find new) hobbies. Much of your identity may have been rooted in who you were in relation to your spouse. Reclaiming and rediscovering your own identity isn’t as simple as “get a new hobby.” Start by nesting time and energy into what sparks your joy. Maybe it’s fostering dogs or advocating for pregnancy rights. At the very least, it’ll be fun, and a great way to take your mind off things for a bit.
- Exercise. There’s no better gift you can give to yourself than the gift of health. “Keeping yourself active is crucial,” said Alicia, who divorced in her early 50s. Endorphins from exercise provide an excellent form of mood therapy, and focusing on a goal gives you something positive to rely on during this new time. Additionally, exercise can be powerfully social — you may meet a new group of friends by going consistently to the same yoga studio or through a run club.
- Get to therapy. Suppressing negative emotions is a surefire way to create bigger problems for yourself. While some of these tactics you’ll employ focus on a distraction, it’s imperative that you come face to face with what’s mentally and emotionally ailing you in order to properly, fully heal — and release! The safest and best way to do this is through therapy with a licensed professional.
- Do something spontaneous. Exercise your freedom! “Find one thing that you haven’t been able to do in your relationship, and go do it,” said Alicia. “When I was married I was never able to travel. After my divorce, I went backpacking through Yosemite, went to a wedding in Aruba, visited ruins in Tulum with my daughter, and traipsed through Europe trying every restaurant I could find.” She suggested taking inventory on what you’ve been missing out on — do you want to go back to school or travel the world? Now’s your time. “Do something kind for yourself.”
- Give yourself time. Be patient, and don’t put yourself on a timeline. Everyone will process this huge life change differently, and at a different speed. Let go of your expectations, refer back to all of the aforementioned tips, and don’t interrupt the process. Let yourself heal on your own schedule.
Divorce and break-ups are a grieving process. Expecting yourself to be over the marriage the minute the papers are signed is unrealistic. Time will be the biggest healer, but what you do with the time will determine how well you heal and the sooner you can move on with your life. Most important, be compassionate to yourself during this journey.