8 Secrets For Surviving Divorce Without Losing Your Mind

How to feel in control of your life again after divorce.

Last updated on Jun 24, 2024

Woman takes off ring knowing the secrets for surviving divorce. pixelshot | Canva

There's a fog that comes with divorce that makes just getting through the end of your marriage an accomplishment unto itself. Don't underestimate or discount that accomplishment  it may not qualify you for "most powerful in business" but it could just meet Sheryl Sandberg's call to "lean in." Ask anyone who's been through divorce what it's like and they'll likely recount a loss of sleep, irritability, forgetfulness, tears, inability to function, and sadness — sometimes all at once, sometimes sequentially, and that's on top of the never-ending list of chores and tasks triggered by the legal process, maybe finding somewhere new to live and maybe finding a new job. You can probably add a few of your own. So how do you get through it?


Here are 8 secrets to surviving divorce without losing your mind:

1. Acknowledge what's going on

The end of your marriage probably means changes in virtually every part of your life. All of that creates unsettling uncertainty. Think about how you felt when just one part of your life changed in the past, such as searching for a new job or finding a new place to live. What you're going through now is on a much larger scale. That's a lot for your mind and body to cope with.

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2. Get medical help

While everything you're feeling could be explained by the changes in your life, it's also important to rule out any medical reasons or identify ones that could be improved with treatment. For example, your sadness could be depression which is common with divorce. You have several options for managing that yourself but there is no shame in getting help and using medication. Your irritability could be tied to your sleeplessness and if you're approaching menopause these may be aggravated by the hormonal changes going on. If you find yourself reaching for a glass of wine every night because it's been a tough day, you're self-medicating. It's definitely time to see your doctor.


3. Don't try to remember everything

There's only so much information your short-term memory can hold. If you try to put too much there, it's going to fail. It's a bit like working on a computer that doesn't have enough memory. If you're trying to remember everything you need to do, it simply isn't going to work. So don't even try. Keep a running list of your tasks. I put tasks as appointments on my Google calendar and then told it to send me a text reminder before the deadline. If it's really important I'll have Google send me several reminders. I also use the reminder function on my phone.

I'll tell you a secret too ... I've set up Google calendars for my kids so I can add their important tasks to their calendars. I don't think they look at the calendar but that doesn't matter. What matters is they get a text reminder about what it is they need to do. That means I don't have to remember to remind them and I don't get accused of nagging!

RELATED: 19 Truths About Divorce That Will Make You Feel Better

4. Prioritize your tasks

If you're feeling unproductive because you can't get through your to-do list, start by asking how realistic you're being about what you expect to get done. Chances are you're treating time as an elastic commodity. Sadly, your available time does not expand with the length of your to-do list so start being realistic  the four hours at home in the evening might only be two hours by the time you allow for getting dinner, doing a load of laundry, and getting the kids to bed.


Number 3 is probably the most important one ✨ How to be more productive and how to not burnout: be better at resting and taking breaks. This is what I do to have better rest and take better breaks:

♬ Chopin Nocturne No. 2 Piano Mono - moshimo sound design

You may also be unrealistic about how much time a task will demand. One of the downsides of multi-tasking is that you don't have a true assessment of the time it takes to do one task and in reality, it might take less time if it was our single focus. Get in the habit of deciding the one or two things you're going to do each day. Decide these first thing in the morning or even the night before. This makes it a lot easier to be successful. If you do this each day, your successes will quickly mount up.

5. Give yourself credit

Instead of being in a hurry to rush on to the next task that needs doing, take a moment to savor your accomplishments especially if they involved learning a new skill or something you'd been putting off. When my ex moved out, I kept a list of each new task I learned ... getting rid of the mouse in the mousetrap, unclogging the toilet, changing the furnace filter and even remembering to put the trash cans out each week. Yes, ours was a fairly traditional division of household chores! Keeping a tally of these new skills will quickly let you see how productive and capable you are.

6. Ask for help

We're over that whole super-being movement so you have nothing to prove especially not now. Now is the time to ask for help  follow my seven rules for asking for help and you won't be disappointed.


RELATED: I've Been Divorced Twice And Wish Everyone Understood These 3 Things

7. Learn to say no

With all the changes you're dealing with, now is not the time to be taking on more responsibilities. Now is the time to step back from those volunteer assignments and even some personal activities. Cutting back on your commitments doesn't have to be permanent, it can be just a temporary break. Not only will you have more time, but you'll have fewer things competing for your attention. You can also apply the "say no" principle to noted time suckers like TV, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest ... You don't have to go cold turkey but what if you gave yourself a time allowance, like just one episode of a specific show or 30 minutes maximum on social media?

@heatherrozen Say no without guilt by using the “blanket rule” decide a task that you never want to do (cat sit, airport rides) and say no to ALL requests by saying “I dont so cats” or “I dont give rides to the airport” people wont take it personally and you dont have to waste brain energy on deciding. #womenshealth #holistichealth #holistichealthcoach #womenshealthcoach #womenswellness ♬ original sound - Heather Rozen Lifestyle Coach

8. Feed your soul

Do you know what feeds your soul? Think about the small, little things you enjoy that help to recharge you. Now take the time to do at least one of them each day. It could be as simple as having a cup of coffee on your own in the morning before everyone else gets up. It could be five or ten minutes of meditation mid-day. It could be a 15-minute walk around your neighborhood. Taking a bath? Reading a book? Listening to music? If you've done the two priority items on your list today, instead of doing another task, feed your soul. If you found a little free time because you asked for help, feed your soul. If you've found more time through saying no, feed your soul. The real beauty of these eight secrets is that with them, I'm pretty sure you'll be able to face just about anything else that life throws at you.


RELATED: The One Thing Every Sane Person Must Do To Survive Their Divorce

Mandy Walker is a divorce coach who blogs at Since My Divorce, a top divorce support blog loaded with tips and recommendations for easing the pain and stress of divorce.