Here, we discuss some of the factors that make divorce so stressful. We also share tips that people can follow to manage the stress of a divorce and move forward with their lives.
Why Does a Divorce Cause Stress?
When you get a divorce, you make the difficult decision to separate from someone with whom you have shared a substantial part of your life. Leaving a person you have loved, cared for and depended on is an inherently stressful act. It is a major life change, and major life changes simply are difficult for most people to handle.
Additionally, a divorce can touch every aspect of your life, including:
● Finances – The financial complications of a divorce are numerous. First, the actual cost of divorce can be expensive if you and your spouse do not agree on matters such as child custody and division of property.
Second, if one person served as the primary breadwinner and handled the finances, the other spouse may lack a reliable income. Both of these factors can add to your stress during the divorce process.
● Family – Many couples must consider the impact of a divorce on their minor children. They will need to make important decisions about who will live with the children and who will make major decisions about matters such as the children’s health care and education. If you and the other parent cannot agree on these issues, the disagreement can add significant stress.
● Property – Whether you live in a community property state such as Arizona or an equitable distribution state, disagreements can arise when it comes to dividing assets and debts. As with child custody issues, the stress will be greater if you and your spouse cannot agree on property issues.
● Housing – If you share a home with your spouse, one of you may need to move out as part of the separation process. If you are the spouse to leave leave the home, you may face stress from taking care of all arrangements and ultimately making the transition to a new home.
Of course, everyone’s situation is different. In addition to the above factors, you should take into account any unique factors in your life that could add stress.
What Are Ways to Cope with the Stress in a Divorce?
Managing stress is necessary when you go through a divorce. Everyone manages negative emotions in different ways, but we all suffer when we fail to keep our stress levels in check. Here are a few techniques to help you to reduce the level of stress you may experience:
● Communicate with others – Whether you join a support group or reconnect with old friends, it is important to have another person to rely on during the divorce process.
Human expression and communication is helpful and necessary during stressful times. Having a social outlet even if you are not yet comfortable talking about your divorce is beneficial to stress management.
Divorce has a tendency to alienate people, but socializing is a great way to reduce stress levels.
● Redirect negative impulses – All of your actions are relevant during a divorce. How you handle yourself could potentially affect the outcome of your case.
For instance, stress may cause you to try to exact “revenge” on your spouse or even lash out at your children. Consider how you can release negative emotions in more constructive ways. For example, you may try to cope with stress by engaging in exercise or taking up a new hobby.
● Feel what you feel – Divorce elicits strong emotions from people. Some of the time, you may feel worthless and dejected. Other times, you may feel joyous.
Whatever you feel, do not shy away from your emotions. It is normal to experience highs and lows during a divorce, and trying to mask how you feel will only bring about confusion and more stress.
There is no shame in having strong emotions, especially during this life transition. However, if your emotions remain erratic for long periods of time, it may be beneficial to talk to a therapist. Recognizing the need for help can be important.
● Get excited – Excitement may be the last thing on your mind right now. Still, looking toward the future is one positive way to handle the challenges of the present.
What is happening now does not define your whole life. A better future awaits you. In the meantime, it is a good idea to engage in what makes you excited right now.
Maybe you like to run or work crossword puzzles in the morning. Perhaps you like sitting outside or watching movies with your cat. These are all activities that can foster positivity, even during stressful times.
Authors: Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker