It’s no secret: the first few weeks (and sometimes months) of a separation or divorce can feel like a never ending cycle of really, really bad days.
Suddenly, everything is unknown. And, if you’re like me, crying becomes your new conversation starter.
- Is this really happening to me?
- What am I going to do now?
- Who am I supposed to be if I’m not with them?
- What about our dreams and plans?
- What am I supposed to tell the children?
It would be brilliant if we had superpowers that allowed us to bypass this stage of a breakup. But alas, no can do.
Right now, you’re probably overwhelmed by your unfolding situation, the needs of your children, legal advice, and the arrival of many unknown and highly volatile emotions. Yes?
So, the idea that you’d have time, or even the ability, to prescribe regular self-care at this stage – hmm, it’s right up there with the idea that pigs may fly!
Well: so far, so normal. (I know because I’ve been there.)
For everyone else (happily married or happily single): a bad day may come along once or twice a year. And when it does, don’t we hear about it! These folk certainly know how to make hay while the sun shines. They go wild for treatments that pamper and soothe their soul. And, in no time at all: a three-day yoga retreat, colonics, a green juice and a few massages later they are fully revived, refreshed and ready to take on the world. (I know, I’ve been there too!)
So, why is it that when we’re going through a separation or divorce – one of the toughest experiences we can ever go through – self-care is as far from our minds as possible?
We don’t prioritise it and we certainly don’t give ourselves permission to have those ever so important me-time moments very often, if at all.
Perhaps the idea of self-care has not even crossed your mind? You view it as a selfish act at such a difficult and financially pressing time of life? You feel guilty? You’re fearful of not being able to attend to so many other more pressing matters? I could go on and on.
What is self-care?
Self-Care: “refers to actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development.” – according to Wikipedia.
Well, I’d give myself a D+ with regards to how I dealt with self-care throughout my journey. My excuse: I had a baby and a toddler to take care of. They needed me.
In hindsight, my choice not to dish out self-care on a regular basis (although my excuse was absolutely valid) left me feeling emotionally and physically drained, stressed and angry most of the time. I gave myself no space or time around the avalanche of emotions to step back and reflect on what had happened or to focus on the benefits of consciously uncoupling and choosing how I wanted this experience to play-out.
Had I committed to a daily dose of self-care, I would’ve been a much more present mama, daughter, sister and friend. I would’ve dealt with a number of things differently.
And, (here’s the winning ticket) I know I would’ve come out the other side of divorce much faster than I actually did.
So, listen up: making time for self-care is uber important throughout your separation or divorce. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
It’s absolutely OK to take time out for you, especially now. Don’t feel that you need to justify it – not to yourself, not anyone. You need this time as much as your family needs you to have it. Let all the painful or angry thoughts (and voices) in your head take a bathroom break.
And…get back in touch with YOU.
So, I want to share with you some of the ways that you can focus on your self-care each day. Ideas that don’t cost the world (or in fact anything at all) and certainly don’t require much preparation or indeed a three-day retreat to achieve results.
- Get a dose of nature. Sit in your garden & simply admire the beauty of nature. Breathe. Zoom in on a bird gliding by, a beautiful flower or a ant going about his busy day. And remember: thank Mother Earth for all that she provides you. Here’s 11 cool scientific reasons that proves nature relaxes.
- Take a bath with gorgeous essential oils and Epsom salts, and listen to some relaxing music or a meditation. When Epsom salt is dissolved in warm water, the magnesium is absorbed through the skin to help replenish magnesium levels in the body. Magnesium helps promote a feeling of calm and relaxation. It also increases energy and reduces irritability. Here are some tips to get started: HERE
- Re-live your childhood. Think of 3 things you loved doing as a child and re-visit them. Think swimming at the beach, swinging on a swing at the park, or painting – that’s a big one. Painting and having a creative outlet can be like a form of meditation. It can lower your heart rate, reduce your stress and energise your spirit. You don’t have to be creative. You just have to give yourself permission to be the beginner. Here are some great steps to get started.
- Star gaze. Lie down and just stare up at the stars. This can help put things in perspective.
- Time for an e-tox! That’s right, a detox of all things electronic. Seriously: NO phone, NO computer and NO devices. If you really feel the need to, let people know the day before that you will be off the air or put a new voice mail on your phone. The true lesson here: it’s all about NOT feeling guilty. It’s OK (even liberating) to be uncontactable and not respond immediately. When you get this one right – you’ll feel a huge sense of freedom.
- Rise & shine. Get the kids (or your bestie) up bright and early and drive to a vantage point to watch the sun rise. When you’re broken-hearted, depressed and feeling like the world is going to end, this is an awesome thing to do. Let the sun be your constant. It will always rise for you and bring with it a brand new day full of possibility.
- An attitude of gratitude multiplies. The beginning stages of a split usually take you to quite a dark and lonely place. It may feel like there’s a hole in your heart and all the happiness and love have leaked out. Usually all you can think (and talk) about is your own pain and hurt. Well, let’s shake this up: turn your attention outward and do a random act of kindness for another. What you put out in the world you get back.
- Live in the moment. Grab a cup of tea and then sit in your favourite spot. Centre your thoughts on what you DO have in your life today. As difficult as things may be right now, try eliminating all thoughts about what you want or wish to have in your life, or where you think you would rather be. Consume your mind with being grateful for here, and now.
- Pamper yourself. Look up a cheap and cheerful Thai place and get a loooong foot massage. Don’t use this hour of bliss as a counselling session – tell the therapist that you don’t wish to chit-chat. Caution: in the early days of your split when you’re super emotional, a massage can really stir things up: so watch out for this. And, drink plenty of water afterwards.
- Connect with yourself. Spend the first 5 to 10 minutes of each day rolling your shoulders and neck, taking deep breaths, doing yoga, reciting a mantra or meditating. Get out of bed and put a little extra effort into how you look today. And, before breakfast drink a glass of hot water with lemon.
IMPORTANT: always have a box of tissues on hand during your time of self-care. If you feel like crying (which you probably will), just let the tears flow – don’t hold them in. Feel the emotion, experience the emotion and when you’re done, take a moment to breathe and reflect on how you feel now.
The best way to manage the stresses and strains of a separation or divorce is to practise self-care every single day.
It’s also worth your while to re-visit the Health and Well-Being section in my FREE e-book, 5 Separation and Divorce Hacks for loads of extra hints and tips.