I am an attorney, not a psychologist or a counselor. I am a big proponent of professional therapy for almost everyone going through a divorce. The disappointment, anger, anxiety and other feelings are things that very few of us have the natural ability to manage without the advice and assistance of a professional.
Whether you hire a therapist or not, here are a few strategies that can help:
1. REALIZE THAT THIS SITUATION AND HOW YOU ARE FEELING IS TEMPORARY. This is extremely important. The panic and anxiety will gradually fade, but it will take time. Keep reminding yourself that the feelings you are experiencing are temporary and that much like the healing process when you injure your body, your mind and heart require time to heal and feel better too. Being mindful that your situation is temporary allows you to have hope that tomorrow will be better.
2. WRITE— TO YOURSELF. During my most difficult times, I have found that writing letters helps me sort out my feelings. I DO NOT SEND THEM TO ANYONE ELSE. THEY ARE FOR MY EYES ONLY. These letters truly express how I am feeling and are unedited, unplanned, stream-of-consciousness letters. Sometimes, I write many letters to myself via email and I even send them to myself. It is surprising to me how therapeutic it is to write down everything I want to say to the person who has caused me to suffer. After writing these letters, it feels as if I’ve released much of the tension and anger that was building.
3. BE PRESENT. Whenever you are ruminating over what has happened– going over and over it in your head– it helps to look around you and bring yourself to the present moment. Use your eyes to take in your surroundings. Use your ears to hear what is happening around you right now. Breathe deeply and it will help you to be present. There are many meditation methods with tapes and guides to help you achieve presence. My personal favorite is Tara Brach of the Meditation Institute. Her approach is based in Buddhist philosophy. If this is not in keeping with your ideologies, there are many meditation styles and guides available on the internet. Find one that resonates with you and try it every day. As with everything in life, practice will help you become more present and ease suffering you are experiencing.
4. DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL. Your body and your mind are connected. If you are not a gym rat or used to physical exercise, take a walk. Ride a bicycle, do yoga, run, go kayaking,— anything will do. Be aware of how your body feels when you are exercising. Even if you are exhausted and feeling depressed, try to sustain the activity for as long as you are able. After physical exercise, you will be better able to relax your body and your mind.
5. VOLUNTEER. Although you may feel overwhelmed and anxiety ridden as a result of your situation, it is important to try to regain perspective. You are not the only person who is suffering. Volunteering provides an opportunity to recognize the suffering of others and to help. It will remind you of the temporary nature of your suffering and allow you to regain a sense of value and worthiness. Volunteer to serve food at a soup kitchen, walk dogs at the local shelter, do whatever interests you and you will find a renewed sense of purpose.