Without a doubt, one of the most transformative ways to get through your divorce and be a more effective parent is to become an active person. During my Mom’s recovery period after the divorce, I could always tell the days when she missed a workout. She would be more sensitive to random songs that came on the radio, or more prone to letting her emotions get the best of her.
Her solution was joining a group of cyclists in our area, as well as joining a fitness group she would go to early in the morning. I did swim team, track and cross country when I was in high school, so when I would go to early morning practice, she would usually get up and go to one of her workouts. And to this day I think it kept her grounded more than about anything else she did during those years.
I personally would go through phases of withdrawal when an athletic season would end. Every year when swim team finished I would have two or three weeks “off”. And every year I would notice the same phase of depression or anxiety settle in. It wasn’t too severe, but I definitely wasn’t in as good of a mood. Then as soon as track would start back up, I was back to my normal self.
Here are just a few of the reasons being active is especially important when you are going through divorce:
1. Endorphins Make You Feel Better
There are many benefits to regular exercise. It can help with depression, low self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and help you stay more focused, just to name a few. The majority of these effects are from the endorphins that are produced while you’re exercising.
I remember finishing tough workouts on swim team, getting in the car on my ride home and simply feeling at peace. I had accomplished something most people couldn’t even fathom doing. I pushed myself to my limits and felt amazing for having done it. By feeling better and reducing your anxiety you can be there for your children when they need you most.
2. You Become Part Of A Group
Simply being in a supportive group environment gives you the uplifting feelings incorporated with being a part of something. You’ll have a place where you can interact with people who may or may not know about the situation you are going through. You are being supported to accomplish small goals which can do wonders in rebuilding your strength and self-confidence.
SIDENOTE: I also strongly encourage you to have your children involved with something too. They need the same support and structure during your divorce that can be provided by a team, or any group working towards a common goal. (Read more about the effects of divorce on children).
3. Use The Pain To Release The Anger And Sadness
My Mom tells stories of going for bike rides after the divorce, where she would pedal as hard as she could, tears usually running down her face. If she was alone, I know she would scream and cry and let everything out. Some might call it her “wailing wall”. It was her therapy; her chance to release all of her emotions uninhibited. I think having that outlet made her more mentally available to be there for me, and support me through my challenges as a high school student.
Through the divorce, I could see how much my Mom was struggling, and all we wanted was for her to heal and feel better. Watching her commit to being active showed me she wasn’t giving up. I knew she was committed to being part of this life and moving forward. Get active so you can be there emotionally, mentally and physically for your children.
I personally think a kickboxing class may be the best option available. If you need to put someones face on the punching bag for encouragement, I’m sure they would allow it.
I want you to commit to becoming an active person. Take time and make a plan. Are you going to join a class or a group? Or are you going to wake up and go for a jog or bike ride? Find out what works for you, and don’t give up. If not for you, do it so you can be more available for your children.
P.S. Here is another great article on the benefits of exercise and divorce. It goes through a little more of the science behind all the benefits you will receive by becoming an active person.