Self, Heartbreak

Women Who Do These 5 Things Are WAY Better At Handling Divorce

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Keep The Stress Of Divorce From Eating You Alive

Divorce is such a trip, tossing you head first into a world that’s largely unfamiliar. You’re suddenly forced to navigate situations (and make hard decisions) you’ve never faced before.

You’re living alone (and wondering if you’ll live alone for the rest of your life). You’re handling your finances ... or what’s left of them. You’re building a personal relationship with your kids in a new way. You’re working with an attorney and legal system that don't know (and sometimes don’t seem to care about) you and your situation. And, hopefully, you’re standing up to your ex (maybe for the first time ever). 

It's a lot! No wonder you feel like divorce is eating you alive. The constant overwhelm often leads to profound anxiety, frustration and sadness ... which creates even more overwhelm. It’s a horribly vicious cycle. And, you worry your friends will stop taking your calls because you feel so needy. 

Sure, you could talk with your doctor about a prescription for an anti-depressant. But, a new study found alarming side effects. So, what else can you do to manage the stress without losing your mind?

Good news, there are some simple, effective ways to inject a little calm into your perpetually overwhelming life. By easing at least a little of the anxiety, you’ll feel more capable of handling things and a bit more in control of your life.

Here are five of the easiest and most immediate ways to create a sense of calm despite the swirl of divorce stress you’re facing:

1. Take a deep breath

I know it sounds ridiculous on the surface (and even patronizing to your real sense of overwhelm), but here's a fact: When you're under stress, your breath gets shallow. And, shallow breathing increases anxiety. (See the vicious cycle here?)

Deep, calm breaths, however, offer these major benefits: managing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, regulating heart rate, sparking brain growth, improving immune function, and boosting energy. And, let’s face it, these are all things you need to handle divorce (and all of its drama) well. 

2. Hug yourself

Yup, this is another seemingly silly idea, but again there is scientific evidence to back up this tip. Psychology Today reports that hugging increases your sense of security, positive feelings and better health. And PsychCentral states that you can receive these benefits simply by hugging yourself or even by imagining a hug. (If you do choose to imagine a hug, just don’t imagine hugging your ex. That just opens another whole can of worms.)

3. Practice the "bubble" exercise

I learned this technique while processing my own overwhelming feelings during my divorce. It helped me feel whole again, less drained ... less like divorce was eating me  alive bit by bit (or rather, bite by bite).

To perform the bubble exercise: Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a few calming deep breaths and then imagine yourself surrounded by a protective bubble. Once you imagine your bubble, notice its color, thickness and texture. Play with making the bubble thicker so you can prevent unwanted interruptions, like the hurtful texts your ex keeps sending. Experiment with all the ways you can adjust your protective bubble to support you in finding a calm, safe place.

4. Write your feelings down

The University of Rochester Medical Center found that journaling helps manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression.

Huffington Post reports 10 additional benefits of journaling: stretching your IQ, evoking mindfulness, achieving goals, boosting emotional intelligence, boosting memory and comprehension, strengthening self-discipline, improving communication skills, promoting healing, sparking creativity and enhancing self-confidence.

Oh, and journaling costs almost nothing (just the price of a pen and some paper) and you can do it almost anywhere. Sounds like a perfect activity to embrace during divorce!

5. Seek out real support

Divorce is one of the loneliest life events you can experience. It’s inherently isolating because few people really understand it unless they’ve been through it themselves. Maybe it's time to join a divorce recovery support group (I did, and it helped so much!), work with a therapist or even a divorce coach.

Having space to talk freely about what’s really going on in your life with a group (or an individual) who truly understands what you’re going through is liberating, calming and incredibly reassuring, too. Sometimes knowing you're not the only one dealing with this madness is enough to make it feel less daunting. 

Now, all of this said — though these tips will definitely take the edge off, they won’t magically make you immune to the stress of your divorce or that horrible feeling of being eaten alive by all the demands. You'll still have to face those challenges. But that's what strong women do ... they handle things. Just pause to take care of yourself in the process. 

With continued practice, the tips above offer you much needed breathing room to think more clearly and make better decisions (from talking to your doctor, your ex or your attorney to what to feed the kids, and yourself, for dinner). 

Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach helping clients learn how to cope with divorce and navigate the chaos it brings. If you want help understanding what to do next, reach out to Karen by emailing her at for a private discussion about the best next steps for you to take.