In the previous blog post, we wrote about the three most important elements of successful stress management for the newly divorced (sleep, exercise and nutrition). In this post, we’ll discuss some other important techniques for turning the anxiety of divorce into an opportunity for improvement.
- Meditation: The “simple” act of focusing your mind on nothing has proven physical and mental benefits for those who make it a regular practice. Meditation has been shown to increase mental focus, reduce anxiety and depression, and help practitioners cope with a variety of physical ailments. It can be done alone or as part of a tai chi or yoga practice. If you’re interested in trying yoga but intimidated by the physical demands, look for a class billed as “gentle” or “restorative.”
- Journaling: Humans have a powerful case of amnesia, particularly during stressful times. Spending a few minutes every day writing down our thoughts and feelings is a good way to record our state of mind and think through our problems. And the simple act of getting the thoughts out of our head-the thoughts that rattle around and keep us up at night-can give us the peace of mind to get some rest.
- Friends: Friendship is powerful medicine. Spending time with good friends-the real kind, not the Facebook kind-is a great way to stave off depression and maintain critical social connections. After a divorce, it’s tempting to become a hermit and wallow in our own sadness. Resist that temptation by picking up the phone, calling a friend, and scheduling lunch. You won’t regret it.
- Nature: Most of us spend almost our entire lives indoors, with brief forays outside to walk from our cars to our office. But research has shown that simply spending a few minutes outside can provide significant benefits. So find time to take a walk outdoors, have a picnic at a park, or go for a bike ride in the country. The more time we spend outside, the better, but even a few minutes can provide a major boost. The benefits for kids are even greater than for adults (there is some evidence to suggest that kids with ADD can see improvement after spending time in nature), so if you have children, be sure they come along.
- Laugh: Laughter distracts us, releases positive hormones, reduces anxiety, and just generally makes us happier. So find something to laugh at every day. It could be a hilarious co-worker, a sitcom, or a favorite writer. Whoever or whatever it is, make it a regular part of your day.
- Prioritize: What are your true priorities? What one thing, if you could do it regularly, would make a positive difference in your life? It could be regular lunch with a friend, a hike in the woods, learning a second language, starting your own business, or camping with your kids. Whatever it is, look critically at your daily, weekly and monthly calendars and do what it takes to get it done. So much of our time is spent tending to “urgent but not important” matters that we completely neglect the “important but not urgent” items that could profoundly improve our quality of life.
- Organize: The disarray that often accompanies divorce has a way of flowing over into the rest of our lives, with the result being a disorganized home, car and office. Disorganization can worsen depression, result in late bill payments, and generally stress us out. Carve out 30 minutes-just 30 minutes-to tackling one room or one drawer. Then find another 30 minutes to purge your closet or garage. You can get more done in an hour than you think, and the results can be energizing and liberating.