No doubt divorce is stressful, but can it lead to a heart attack?
Anyone going through a divorce will tell you it's excruciatingly stressful. There is no way around it...even an amicable divorce come with a certain amount of anxiety. At the very least, it's a big change and at the worst, it's a full out war.
I was beyond stressed out during my own divorce. I really didn't think I was going to make it some days, and I know I wouldn't be the first woman to say she thought her divorce might kill her. I didn't realize this at the time, but it really could have given me a heart attack.
A new study recently published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes has found that that "divorce is a significant risk factor" for heart attacks in women. Heart attacks, ladies. We can no longer ignore all those signs that our body is giving us.
The list of physical symptoms caused by stress is long and gnarly. Dizziness, insomnia, weight gain, weight loss, grinding your teeth, headaches, rashes, memory loss, stuttering, tremors, panic attacks, muscle spasms, and heartburn...just to name a few.
I personally experienced every one of those symptoms I just listed and a whole lot more.
The effects of stress will also play out in other ways, in addition to physically. At work, we may experience a lack of patience, reduced productivity, carelessness, difficulty concentrating and an inability to make decisions.
It doesn't end there. Stress can also have an effect on our social life. We may feel really lonely but at the same time experience a desire to isolate, have feelings of utter worthlessness, and have trouble communicating.
Stress can also lead to increased injuries, accidents, and even speeding tickets. The list is endless! After reading all that, is it any wonder the heart will eventually give out?
Avoiding stress entirely is not realistic in life, let alone in divorce. But if we know that persistent exposure to stress leads to chronic health problems and even heart attacks, what is the solution?
I wish I could say it was as simple as avoiding divorce, but we all know it's not. For some, divorce, in the long run, is the ultimate stress reliever. No, I think the key is not to get stuck in the process.
You are prey right now; you have to keep moving and recognize that if you stay still, the anxiety, like a predator, will eat you alive.
So how do you move through a divorce and manage the stress at the same time? Here are 3 ways:
1. Ask For Help.
This is not the time to "go it alone." There are too many important decisions to make and let's face it, you aren't thinking clearly.
Reach out to professionals who can help you by giving you information, emotional support, and guidance. A divorce coach, a therapist, or a spiritual guide may be able to help share the burden with you.
2. Take Care Of Yourself.
Understand that your body and mind are fragile right now and just like when you are sick, you need to slow down and take care of yourself.
Remember to eat. Give yourself permission to take a break. Make time to do something enjoyable. Stop and take a deep breath when you are overwhelmed. Get some sleep when you can.
If you recognize that your body needs be nurtured, you should be able to reduce the number of symptoms you are experiencing due to stress.
3. Plan Your Next Step.
It can be paralyzing to think about putting a whole new life together. You may not be able to imagine it at all. But you can't stay here...you must take a step. Even if it's a baby step.
What can you accomplish today? Call the lawyer? Stop for groceries? Pick out a movie to watch with the kids? Get that paper filled out for your accountant? This list of what you need to do is probably pretty long, but for today, pick one thing and make a plan for accomplishing it.
Tomorrow, you can do the next thing. Before you know it, you will have taken many steps and you'll be in a whole new place. Hopefully, a relatively stress free one.
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