Just reading those words, “How To Feel Better After A Divorce” sounds so neat and tidy. The truth is that feeling better after divorce is anything but neat and tidy! The process is usually exhausting and overwhelming and is different for everyone.
Before I went through my own divorce, I considered myself a strong, in control, independent, optimistic woman. But on the trip called divorce, I was a mess! I found myself overcome with sadness and despair. I was afraid I would never be happy again. I said things I would have never said in my normal (not divorcing) life.
I’m a Christian, but when I went through divorce I acted anything but loving, forgiving or in control. I used words I never have let my children use! I threw things! I found myself on the floor of my daughter’s closet rocking back and forth, sobbing in utter despair,
During one of my own early divorce recovery stages, I wrote a poem called “I Hate Him!” and at that moment, I did. (By the way, that poem is in my book Radical Recovery. More women than I expected comment on feeling those same intense emotions that I felt.)
So, for someone to think that a How To Feel Better list will make this an easy, pretty trip is a dream that will never happen. Maybe we should call the process, “Staying alive during the tornado of divorce!” Or “Tips to not dying during the tsunami of divorce.” Those might be more accurate.
At first, many of us are so distracted and emotional, that we can’t concentrate very well on anything but the most basic steps of divorce recovery. We don’t need a lot of words. We need concrete things to actually do every day just to get started.
My list is for real flesh and blood women who are struggling to get out of bed every day. In the early stages, everything made me cry. Or incredibly angry. Or scared to death that I would never get over my divorce …. Or that I would never be happy again.
So, my first recovery steps after divorce are what I call The Survival Six. The simple, but powerful things on this list help you get your feet on the floor every day. In the world of divorce that’s a huge victory in itself! This sounds dramatic, but most of us who have been through the process, can definitely identify with it.
Step 1: Get Up
During the early stages of divorce, most of us aren’t sleeping well, so it’s harder to get up. That lack of sleep is bad enough, but then the first thing we usually think about when we open our eyes every day is, “Oh no (or “Oh – something else!) …. This is not a dream. This divorce is really happening!” so I would start every day focused on those awful negative feelings.
Most of us would rather just stay in our warm bed, pull the covers up over our head and not get up until this whole ugly divorce is over! But we can’t do that if we have a job to go to or a family to take care of.
Here are a few things you can do when you first wake up.
- Say a short morning prayer of gratitude for all the good things still in your life. We all still have blessings all over the place! Really.
- Do some stretches, like a cat. Flex and release your muscles. Go from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes.
- Do some meditative breathing. Breathe in through your nose; let the air inflate the area below your belly button. A bit more slowly, exhale with your lips slightly open and hold as tightly as you can for five seconds. Repeat five times.
- Think of good reasons you have to get up. View everything that happens today as something that will make you a stronger, more beautiful, more joyful woman.
Step 2: Take A Shower
Once your feet are on the floor, go directly into the shower. Don’t even think about getting back in bed!
Water has a central place in the practice of many spiritual traditions. . Water purifies. Water cleanses us physically and spiritually.
Get yourself a wonderfully scented bar of soap and just think about what an amazing, precious privilege it is just to get into a safe space and turn on clear, clean warm water. So many, many women in the world will never experience a shower like that. Be thankful for that simple pleasure that we so often take for granted.
Think of every simple thing you do today with this same sense of gratitude and awe. Thank God that you’re still on you own two feet and get to choose your path forward.
Step 3: Fix Your Face
There are two ways to fix your face.
- Physically: After your shower, fix your face by taking care of your skin. When you have the chance, get some make-up tips and re-think your hair. What first impression do you want to make today? Will the people you meet know that you value yourself enough to take the time to wash your face and put on a little moisturizer and blush. A dermatologist told me that you need to put some kind of moisturizer on your face within 3 minutes after washing to keep your skin glowing . Do it!
- Psychologically: “Smile! Being happy is good for your health. Really. Your face is like a switch on a railroad track,” says Alan Fridlund, PhD. “It affects the trajectory of the social interaction the way the switch affects the path of the train.” Is your face encouraging or discouraging social interaction?
Think about how much your face says about you when you are out and about today. Make sure you project the confident, friendly, good person you are! Don’t let yourself get buried under the avalanche of divorce trash all around you. Shine your light, starting with your smile!
Step 4: Get Dressed
Dress “UP” to feel up! Clothes make a statement about who you are…. Or who you can be. They can say: CONFIDENT or insecure. FUN or boring. They can make people feel comfortable and want to get to know you better. Or they can make people think you don’t care enough about yourself to make an effort.
When I was going through divorce, nothing felt right to wear, just like nothing sounded good to eat. I didn’t want to wear my bold colors. I didn’t feel like it. Judith Wills, author of Midlife/NewLife says, “Clothes help you sell yourself to YOU.” That’s true!
What we wear can help lift negative emotions or make us feel worse. But the cool thing is, we get to choose, even when we’re in the middle of divorce. If we don’t care about us, other people are less likely to as well.
This is definitely a time you need to dress for your own best after divorce success! (And who knows when you might run into “you-know-who” or someone special who might be looking for a new relationship!) Look your best!!
Step 5: Eat Something
I know you’re probably on the divorce diet or you’re eating everything in sight! For me, and most women, nothing sounded good to eat. We’re sometimes so overwhelmed and exhausted during divorce that we forget to eat.
If you’re still feeding a family, you have to think about food, even though nothing much sounds good to you.
Here are some tips:
- Keep healthy, simple foods available. It’s not going to hurt kids to have cheese and nuts and fruit for dinner or even cereal is okay now and then. Let them pick out frozen meals that they like or anything that’s easy to fix.
- Make preparing a meal a nightly gathering time. Plan and cook the meal together. It’s a comfortable, stress-free time to just be together and share your day.
- Use your divorce as a time to re-start your eating habits. Choose Healthy Warrior Woman food rather than Nasty, Trashy Blubber Food as they tell young recruits in the Marines. You’ll see a change in your body before you realize what’s happened. That’s the one good thing about divorce, we all usually lose weight whether we want to or not.
- Eat with intention! Pay attention! Most of us have the habit of eating without really noticing what we’re eating. We’re on our cell phone or watching tv without savoring our food. That’s another thing that is positive to learn during divorce. Don’t do anything mindlessly. Make everything a special event — even eating a very simple, healthy meal.
Step 6: Get Moving
Go someplace! Don’t lie down on the bed again! Don’t sit down on the couch! Get up and GO SOMEPLACE!
Read the book, Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. If you can’t afford to buy it right now, go to your favorite bookstore and sit in one of their easy chairs and read it cover to cover. It’s worth the time.
Just get moving someplace. By moving our body, we feel more confident. When you walk, stand up straight, put your shoulders back and put a smile on your face. Endorphins start dancing around in your head.
One of my favorite websites is www.inspireyourpeople.com. It’s a business website created by Sam Parker.
Sam’s site is full of great things to think about. For example, he encourages “Smoving!” which is Smiling and Moving! Go to Sam’s website and find the section on Smoving and what it can do for your life!
After my last child was off to swim team or cross country practice (very, very, early in the mornings), I would often go to the gym myself. When I did I always felt better. Or sometimes I would take my Wall Street Journal and my daily planner and get coffee at a little coffee place not far from my house. Meet a friend to walk. Just do something. It’s a great way to get a great day started.
If you do this list of The Survival Six, your divorce recovery will get started on the right foot every morning. These aren’t complicated strategies that will solve the rest of your life after divorce, but they will at least get you up and at ‘em every morning. And that’s a very big deal.
If you want to find more Divorce Recovery Strategies or more information on The Survival Six and creating the life you want after divorce, check out our MasterPlan divorce recovery program and take a look.
We’re all about real, simple, concrete actions you can take every day to go from how you’re feeling now to a place that is better than you can even imagine! It’s happened to hundreds and hundreds of women and it can happen for you. Start with the free 10-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course and see what happens.
Your life is going to be better than you can even imagine right now!