Your hand is your new best friend.
One of the things that surprised me when I got divorced was how much I missed being touched. During the course of a typical day, my ex and I would accidentally bump into each other in the kitchen, briefly touch hands while we handed things to each other or touch the other on the arm to quietly capture their attention. Somehow after my divorce, this lack of touch emphasized how alone I was. It's kind of pathetic, but there was a time when I looked forward to meeting someone new just to be able to shake their hand. To help me feel more connected and get the touch I craved without having to date, I went dancing at least once a week and I started getting a weekly massage.
What I've discovered since becoming a divorce coach in 2007 was that what I went through is pretty normal. Most people who separate and divorce go through a phase of feeling especially lonely, which is exacerbated by the lack of touch. Heck, you might even be wondering, like many of my clients do, if you'll ever be touched lovingly again!
Over the years, I've developed many different ideas and tactics I suggest to my clients to help them work through their loneliness and reconnect with themselves. Among the options I suggest is to give themselves mini-massages. No, I'm not talking about masturbation, (though that's another way to deal with the loneliness of divorce) I'm talking about therapeutic mini-massage. Why massage? Well, massage is one of the most healing forms of touch. It releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin and reduces stress-related hormones like adrenocorticotropin. Massage increases connection with what's going on in your body, which we often lose touch with when we're struggling with separation and divorce.
Several years ago, I was intrigued enough about the benefits of therapeutic massage that I decided to learn more and earned my massage license. I've discovered first-hand that I can give myself wonderful mini-massages that allow me to focus on myself and not everything else that's going on. Some of the easiest mini-massages to give yourself focus on your hands, your scalp and your feet.
Hand Massage: Because we use our hands for gripping and typing all day long, they can become very cramped and tense.
- The first step of a good hand massage is to gently stretch your palm and fingers open. Start with your dominant right hand and stretch the palm and fingers open with your other hand. Hold the stretch for about 5-10 seconds.
- Next, stretch each finger on this hand individually by gently pressing it away from the palm.
- Place a small amount of olive oil or other food-grade oil onto the palm of your dominant hand and use the thumb of your other hand to gently massage the oil into your palm and help the muscles to relax. When you've finished with your dominant hand, repeat the procedure for your other hand.
Head Massage: Another wonderful part of the body to massage is the scalp. For a scalp massage the goal is to gently move the skin of the scalp — not just your hair — around. You'll know you're doing a great job if you don't hear the hair on your head making a lot of noise.
- Place your fingers firmly yet gently on your scalp and move your fingers in small circles.
- You'll want to make 3-5 slow circles and then move your fingers to a new spot and repeat the circling motion.
- Continue moving your fingers to new spots and gently yet firmly massaging until you've massaged your entire scalp.
Foot Massage: Probably one of my favorite places to receive massage is my feet. I'm on my feet a lot and give them a real workout every day and this is one of the best ways for me to unwind and reconnect with my body.
- For this massage, you'll want to have a little bit of olive oil or other food-grade oil for lubrication. Take your right foot in your lap and apply just a little oil to the sole of your foot.
- Make a soft fist with your left hand and gently, but firmly, rub your fist up and down the arch of your foot. You'll want to repeat this 5-7 times.
- Then move your thumbs in small circles over the ball of your right foot.
- When you've completed that, cup the heel of their your foot in your left hand and rub the heel of your hand over your heel 3-5 times.
- Next, stroke either side of your Achilles' tendon 3-5 times by gently holding it between your thumb and forefinger.
- Now wrap your hand around to the top of your foot and just pet it from your ankle to your toes 2-3 times. Repeat this procedure for your left foot using your right hand.
The key for enhancing the benefits of these massages is to pay attention to how your body responds. These mini-massages are just the starting point. Adjust them so that they work well for you. As you become more comfortable with giving yourself these mini-massages, you'll also be building a deep connection with yourself, which was probably missing during your marriage. This deeper connection with you will provide a solid foundation for you to move on from feeling so lonely, to being happy regardless of whether you're alone or not.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach and advisor helping people who are considering divorce make a smart decision about staying or leaving their marriage. You can join her anonymous newsletter group for free advice or email her at Karen@functionaldivorce.com for a free consultation. Don’t let the worry about divorce ruin your life, help is available as soon as you’re ready.