Divorce's Impact on Mental Health
The process of filing for divorce and going your separate ways can prove emotionally and financially taxing. It can be exponentially more difficult when you have an ex who wants to hurt you as much as they want to leave. Thankfully, help is available, and taking control of your life is the first step to overcoming any mental health impacts of divorce.
Coping with life alone
Transitioning from married to single can be a lonely experience. The one person you normally turn to for support during a difficult time is no longer there. Even if your marriage was toxic and abusive, you've lost a life with another person.
As you rebuild your daily routine, take care to center around creating a fulfilling life for yourself rather than getting by until you find another partner. As you complete this transition, try to fill up your empty time with self-care and hobbies. If you feel the need, seek the counsel of a therapist who can help you process your emotions and overcome any anger, resentment or trauma from the marriage.
The mental health implications
A professional can help you set boundaries with your ex as it is especially important to avoid negative mental health. Your life has been turned upside down, and this stress can lead to increased anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation, which can impact every aspect of your well-being.
When you have an ex who can't stop reminding you of how you changed their life (though they may use less kind words), a self-deprecating pattern can emerge, causing your anxiety and depression to spiral. In addition to mental health impacts, stress, anxiety and depression can create secondary health complications such as high blood pressure, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
While practicing self-care through healthy eating, being active and managing your mental health, setting boundaries with your ex can help alleviate the added stressors of someone dumping their emotional baggage in your lap.
One of the biggest mistakes divorced couples make is trying to stay in contact with their ex. While there are special circumstances when exes maintain a healthy relationship after divorce, you should never trade your emotional well-being for this interaction. Remember, you got divorced—it's over. You no longer need to fight or blame each other for your unhappiness, just let it go.
Finding the help you need
If you don't already have a professional to talk to, the best self-care tip is to find one before the mental health impacts become unmanageable. Working with a licensed counselor can help you process the residual negative emotions and thoughts from ending your marriage.
Your counselor can also help you learn valuable coping skills to maintain your mental health and work through negative moments. One of the most surprising aspects of counseling is you will likely uncover other traumas present before the divorce, which could help you to become a better partner for future relationships.
These coping skills can help you avoid confrontations with your ex. Finally, you will learn to forgive yourself for the failed marriage. Self-hatred can hold you back from moving on, and letting go can be freeing and allow you to love yourself again.
Becoming you again
Overcoming the mental health impacts of divorce can take time, and you will likely experience many setbacks as you uncover different traumas associated with the event. Be kind to yourself and let each day come. As time passes, it will get easier, you will learn to let go, and with the help of a counselor, you become you again.