You CAN be happy again.
Are you stressed out and depressed? Is your self-esteem ruined? Are you angry beyond words at your ex? Do you have little to no patience with anyone else? Do you frequently have mood swings that make you wonder who you are? Or do you simply wonder if you can ever be normal and happy again?
If you're still reading this, then you're either having a difficult time dealing with your divorce or you know someone who is. And don't worry, you're not alone. Most people coping with divorce experience a wide range of emotions and thoughts they've never had before. It's easy to get caught up in the chaos of it all.
It doesn't matter whether you witness compassion, you receive kindness or you act kindly — the health benefits of benevolence are tremendous. According to Steve Taylor, Ph.D. in an article written for Psychology Today, when you witness compassion, you find a renewed faith in human nature, you experience an increased connection to others and, chances are, you'll be kinder too. When you receive thoughtfulness from others, you feel connected and cared for.
These sensations decrease stress. But also, according to Danica Collins on Underground Health Reporter, along with kindness you also receive a significant improvement in the functioning of your immune system and a hit of serotonin — a neurochemical which helps alleviate depression.
When you're the kindhearted one, the benefits are even greater. First, you get the same immune system and serotonin boost that the recipient of kindness gets — which helps combat the depression, poor self-esteem and mood swings that go along with divorce — and then, according to Christine Carter, Ph.D. in her Psychology Today article, you also experience fewer aches and pains and extend your life.
This is fascinating research! But when you're coping with the end of your marriage, the first thing on your mind isn't looking for volunteer opportunities.
Here are 5 ways you can easily and effortlessly bring more kindness into your world:
1. Be compassionate to yourself.
Yes, it totally counts if you're kind to yourself! Recognize that working through your divorce will take time and practice patience with yourself. Do something every day to nurture yourself — rub your feet when you take off your shoes, stay hydrated, take a walk outside, or even give yourself a hug.
2. Be kind to those who are standing by your side.
No matter how it might feel, you've got others who are there for you. Maybe it's your kids, pets, friends, family or even your friends' pets. Make sure you aren't bringing them down in the process of them trying to help you. Show them the kindness they deserve.
3. Ask for the help you need.
Be specific about what you ask for so you'll more easily inspire kindness in others and have a better chance of receiving exactly what you need. If you leave things up to the imagination or expect people to know what you want, it can stir up a lot of frustration. Instead, be clear with your requests.
4. Be on the lookout for compassion in action.
You'll be surprised at how often you'll catch someone smiling at a stranger, giving a friend a hug, or even petting their dog. Take a moment to appreciate those small acts of kindness.
5. Choose to cultivate feelings of kindness in yourself.
According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, you can build your compassion like you would build a muscle. Try a 30-minute meditation (like this one) to train yourself into thinking positively.
There's a caveat to all this — if you're not feeling kind, don't force it. Forcing kindness will only serve to make you resentful and further diminish your self-esteem — which is exactly what you don't need. But as you feel inspired, be kind! After all, even if you're only being compassionate to yourself, you're increasing the kindness in your world which is what's important to helping you cope with divorce.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach and divorce survivor. She works with clients to help them make smart decisions their marriage. You can join her anonymous newsletter group for free advice or email her at Karen@functionaldivorce.com for a free consultation.
This article was originally published at Dr. Karen Finn's blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.