09 Feb Seven self-care tips during separation
Separation and divorce are tough. Although everyone’s separation will be different, it often involves emotional turmoil, confusion and practical challenges. So it is very important to take care of yourself during this time. Here are seven things you can do to support yourself.
Take care of your body
Separation and divorce a are two of life’s biggest stressors. Stress messes with your body. So at this time you need to care for your body. Notice what’s going on in your body. Sleep well. Eat good food. Do something physical. Ground yourself. Breathe. Do the best you can and be kind to yourself.
Be gentle with yourself
Self-compassion can promote emotional resilience and be powerfully protective when relationships end. When you are compassionate with yourself, you become aware of how you are feeling. Acknowledge your feelings gently. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Go slow and be patient.
Listen to yourself
Turn towards your feelings. Noticing and naming your emotions can create relief and make you less stressed. It can help you think more clearly and creatively, making it easier to find constructive solutions. Hold your feelings carefully and mindfully. Allow them to be. This awareness can help you recognize what you might need – care, respect, gratitude, honesty, fairness, safety, certainty, autonomy, authenticity? What can you choose mindfully to do to meet those needs?
Friends and family can be important sources of support. Stay connected to the adults in your primary relationship circle. Sometimes people aren’t sure how to help, so ask for what you are needing – to be heard? To have fun? For empathy? Company? Or just someone to pick up or look after the kids while you find time for yourself?
Seek professional support
Sometimes friends and family can’t provide all the support you might need. Separated people frequently experience similar patterns of grief that can occur after a loved one dies. These feelings frequently include denial, anger, isolation, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are very normal responses. Some of us get stuck at different stages. If you feel stuck, professional help can make a difference. Try to find the right professional for you. Think about what you need and would prefer from a professional. Do some research, call the ones that appeal, and choose the one that feels right. My next blog will explore choosing a professional in more depth.
Foster compassion towards your ex-partner
Finding compassion for your ex-partner may sound impossible just now. If you can develop compassion for your ex partner, this will also help you manage your feelings mindfully and make wiser choices. To do this you might imagine how he or she is feeling. You may be able to recognize their suffering or the reasons for their actions, even if you don’t agree with them. You might consider what their needs might be: maybe for understanding, forgiveness, respect, care, appreciation, safety, clarity, certainty? Try to think of qualities you admire about them. If you can do this, it will also help you co-parent more effectively and build a secure emotional base for your children during your separation, and meaningful relationships after. It is critical to your child’s well-being that divorcing parents work to be compassionate to one another.
Change your narrative
What are you telling yourself about your separation or divorce? What are you telling others? Divorce is hard, but our attitudes can make it harder than it needs to be. Guilt, shame and a sense of failure can raise the emotional cost of divorce. No fault divorce no longer requires us to demonise our ex-partner. If we can change our narrative, we can also change our experience of separation. One way to help you shift your narrative, and to find compassion for yourself and your ex-partner, is to create a ritual around the end of your relationship. This can have profound effects and provide catharsis, finality and clarity. It honours the relationship that was and enables you to move forward.
Even if you can only do one of these things, just do the best you can and be kind to yourself.