For most of us who have gone through it, divorce is the hardest thing we’ve ever experienced.
The ending of a marriage and the breaking of a family: it’s not for the faint of heart.
Looking back on when my marriage went south, I realized there were some key things that really kept me afloat and kept me moving forward.
When I most doubted myself and where my life was heading, when I was in the fog and chaos of an unfamiliar, new life, and my kids were at their dad’s and I was missing them an incredible amount, here’s what I turned to:
1. Volunteer or generally be of service to other human beings.
For me, there was a ton of negative self-talk on days when I was struggling—days when it seemed like nothing was worth it. You know the days—when even getting out of bed feels like a huge accomplishment.
However, when I started volunteering my time in service, which really started off as me simply helping a neighbor or anyone I’d come across in the course of a day (on the days I ventured outside!), I’d realize that there was an instant, warm fuzzy feeling that was growing within my heart.
That moment of connection lasts, and the effects build up over time. It was key to getting myself back into life and out of my rabbit hole.
2. Plan an outing or something special for the kids.
When the kids are with me, life is busy. And with work in the mix as well, there are some days when I wouldn’t know my hand from my foot if I didn’t keep to-do lists.
I’ve learned to take advantage of my kid-free time and loosely plan my week out in advance: what meals to have, some fun family activities, and so on.
A bit of forethought can mean the difference between me being a zombie mom and the kids just watching TV together in the evening. I can intentionally create more meaningful family time.
That said, be gentle with yourself—for months after my separation, the kids spent a lot of time watching TV, and I was frequently a zombie mom. It’s a lot to process in the beginning.
3. Practice self-care.
With more time on your hands now that the kids aren’t always around, we can choose to level up on our health.
Make some fitness goals, join a gym, hike more—whatever you love that is physically active, do more of it.
This has been a long-term goal of mine, but I am just now getting consistent about it—making fitness and health a priority is a struggle for someone who’s emotional response to a lot of things is eating! (You can imagine how well that mixed with my marriage ending.)
I’ve stopped trying to do things that I don’t enjoy, and am just focusing on the physical activities I get real pleasure out of—it definitely makes it easier to make the commitment to do them regularly. I simply make a non-negotiable time for them each week, and stick to that as non-negotiable.
It’s a work in progress for sure, but it feels so good to be active and feel vital in my body—and it helps me keep a positive mindset.
4. Socialize with family and friends, both new and old.
My instinct after my ex and I separated was to hole up in my house and become a hermit for a long while—reasonable under the circumstances. But it wasn’t the right move forever.
Try and stay connected with people who know you, and be grateful for friends and family who check in on you and ask how you’re doing—even if you don’t have a tidy response to give back to them!
Life is messy at times. At first, it may feel a bit forced, but go out for dinner or a drink with friends. Get together with family. Relationships help keep us tethered to life, and they’re a pillar for bringing us back into the light.
These four keys to getting back into the game of life, are in no order—in fact, I’d recommend you sprinkle them randomly throughout your life. And I certainly only did them as I felt ready—no expectations of myself. The last thing we need in this difficult time is another reason to stress ourselves out!
Author: Lisa Nicol
Image: Rikard Elofsson/Flickr
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren