Hold on! You will get through this.
Divorce really takes it out of you. It’s an f-ing life changing event that’s thrown unexpectedly your way by the one person who promised to love you for the rest of your life.
But … surprise! (in a really horrible way) ... they don’t love you anymore.
You’ve spent years of your life investing in this person and this relationship and the marriage still didn’t work out.
It's hard not to think of those years as "wasted." And it’s this perspective, this view of your life that allows the situational depression of divorce to take root deeply and invade not only your life, but your soul.
Of course, you know that you need to pull this weed out of your life, and yet the depression itself makes it difficult to do much about it.
But don’t worry. You can conquer divorce depression. You can (and will) feel happy again. And you can do that very simply. (Even if simple isn't always easy.)
Here's how to move through depression caused by your divorce to a happier, more confident state of being on the other side:
1. Take a breather when you need one.
Yes, I know, technically, you’re already breathing in and out. But did you know that our breathing changes when we feel depressed? We actually breathe more shallowly and hold our breath.
To compensate for the lack of oxygen, we sigh or yawn frequently, which triggers us to remain in a depressed state.
Instead of sticking with the same old breathing, change things up and "take a breather" throughout the day. By that, I mean: sit or stand tall and take in as much air as you can. Then, exhale forcefully. Seriously, I want everyone within 10 feet of you to know you’re exhaling. Take 3-5 of these deep breaths each time you take a breathing break (ideally, you’ll "take a breather" four to eight times each day).
And, if you really want to up the ante of using breathing to help you conquer your situational depression post-divorce, try this: Put your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height with the back of your hands together. As you breathe in, raise your arms (with the back of your hands still touching) until they’re directly overhead. Then, as you exhale, make fists and pull your arms down until your upper arms are level with your shoulders (yeah, you’ll look like you’re posing for a body building contest).
The beauty about moving your arms around like this as you breathe is that you release some of the tension trapped in your shoulders and upper back (I do this move almost every day. It helps that much!).
2. Go for a stroll.
Take at least one break every day to just walk — ideally outside and definitely without your phone out. Pay attention to all that’s going on around you as you stroll .. the little details of people you pass, the shape of buildings, the flowers in your neighborhood. For most of us there’s something incredibly healing about being outside, disconnected however briefly from "real life" and technology.
Besides the change of scenery, there are other benefits to walking. Putting your body in motion helps with digestion. Walking will also help you to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your bones and muscles, and improve your mood, blood flow, balance and coordination. The Mayo Clinic even says that the faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits you’ll receive.
3. Eat like a champ (e.g. for nourishment first, not "comfort").
Most people in the throes of divorce use food to help soothe their feelings. Some overeat, while others under eat. (I was definitely an under-eater when I was going through my divorce depression.)
However, by succumbing to the different and, frankly, bad eating habits you’ve developed to soothe yourself, you accidentally create an environment in which your post-divorce depression thrives.
When you don't feed yourself well, you mess with your ability to think clearly, which means the same depressing thoughts will continue to loop in your head.
Shift this self-defeating behavior by committing to eat better for at least one meal each day. Maybe "better" means adding more vegetables to your plate. Maybe "better" just means switching from soda to water. Whatever it means to you, do it.
Admittedly, these 3 tips are just the beginning for moving fully out of your post-divorce depression.
But, they’re a critical starting point for sustained changed precisely because they are so achievable. And once you have success with these first steps, you’ll more easily move on to more success in conquering your post-divorce depression.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach and divorce survivor herself. She works with clients to help them cope with and survive their divorce. 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 DivorceForce. Reprinted with permission from the author.