Does Separation + Divorce = Stress?

Sometimes moving on through divorce is painful. Stress and anxiety is your body’s response to change and uncertainty. The good news: like the divorce process, stress can be managed.

How Does Stress Make you Feel?

  • Stress related to separation or divorce can make you feel angry, excited or helpless.
  • It can make it hard to sleep.
  • It can give you aches and pains in your back, neck, and head.
  • You may overeat, overthink, drink too much, or start smoking again.
  • You may not have any symptoms at all, but your body suffers from it.

How Can I Cope?

Ending a marriage by separation or divorce is one of the most stressful things you will ever do. Often people tell me that it is easier to cope with death. Please accept that you can not control all the outside events, nor can you control his or her actions. You can control how you handle things, and here are some ways to cope.

  • Take 10 minutes a day for a relaxation exercise.
  • Try to accept things you cannot change.
  • Accept that the healing process will take time.
  • Visualise good things happening to you.
  • Engage in physical activity. Start with a walk.
  • Try to limit alcohol, over-eating and smoking.

Add a Positive Spin

This is so simple and so effective. Feel free to spin your own script.

Negative thoughts
My life is over.
There’s always pills, smokes and booze
I don’t want it to be like this.

I don’t have the expertise.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
I feel so alone
I feel bruised and a failure.
Positive spin
I have an opportunity for growth
I’m going to learn how to manage my stress.
It is, so I’ll deal with it.

I’ll find people who can help me
I’ll learn to make a new plan.
I’ll see if I can open a door.
I’ll give it one more try.

Right now you can relieve stress.

Print this other exercise, light some candles and do this self-exercise, or even better have someone read it to you.

Relaxation Exercise #2

You sit so still
Slouched in comfort.
An intake of clean air.
With a sigh you let go.
Another slow breath, deeply in and out.
Arms and shoulders and body relax.
It feels good to sit like this, calm and safe.

A vision unfolds.
A sandy cove, bathed in early morning light.
You are upon a rise, and before you,
a flight of wooden stairs,
leading to an empty beach.
And beyond the beach a soft sky.
You see the steps waiting, wide, sun-bleached, safe.
You note the colour and textures of the wood.
Your left hand rests upon the railing,
feeling its smooth strength and warmth.

At your feet is a container, a brown paper bag.
Crumpled and limp, and empty.
It is for your burdens, let them escape.
Let your worries flow from deep within, let them flow down your arm and see them drip from
your fingers into the paper bag.
You feel yourself relax. Sag.

A crayon lies nearby, you write upon the bag
a time and date when you will retrieve the contents.
Until then they are locked away, forgotten.

You glide down to the next step,
and with each step you let yourself relax.
Take another step, relax.
Around you, comforting like the arms of a lover
a sea of tall grass, swaying.
You see stalks and leaves and individual seeds.
You feel calm. There is no hurry. No rush.

Take one more step.
The stairs support you like an old friend.
You see the waiting beach with its fine golden sand.
You see long shadows cast by the morning sun.
You listen. Birds in the distance, the hush of breeze.
You feel the sun’s low heat, its warmth reassuring.
You are relaxed and safe.

More steps, you are more relaxed.
You feel the sand grace your feet.
Before you a single chair. It calls to you.
This is your special place.
Your place to retreat, to visit, to feel safe.

Arms loose at your side, body very relaxed.
Because you are relaxed you know that you are safe,
you know that you are going to be OK.
Because you are relaxed you know that no one will harm you.
Remain for as long as you want.

When you are ready you rise from the chair. You move from the beach to the stairs. 10 steps before you. Each step upwards you start to feel more and more energized. More and more alive.
You stretch and smile
and promise to return.
To your special place.

Colin Kennedy 2006.

Rarely can you control events; however, you can control how you deal with those events. In the above exercise you used the paper bag to put things aside. You can use this visualization anytime or anyplace where you need to free yourself from over-thinking. Let’s say it is Friday and you have a meeting on Monday and there is nothing to do but worry about that meeting. Well, instead of wasting your weekend with stress use the paper bag idea. When you find yourself thinking about that meeting simply remind yourself that it is in the bag and you’ll deal with it later.

Another idea is to visualize a calendar. Feel the worry flow down your finger and onto a square on the calendar. You have set it aside and will deal with it then.

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