3 ways to protect your mental health during a divorce

Divorce is a messy and emotionally challenging time. There are many adjustments to make, seemingly all at once, and stress levels run high. This doesn't mean that it has to take over your life and wreck your mental health. Here are three strategies you -- and your children -- can use to stay as centered as possible during your divorce.

Check in with yourself often

While the divorce process can take several months -- or even years -- the everyday challenges of dealing with your ex and finding your new normal can cause your emotions to change at a break-neck pace. It can often feel like you're running from place to place trying to keep all the plates spinning in the air, but operating under this level of stress can make it hard to recognize when you're close to your breaking point.

Pencil in 15 minutes every day to check in with yourself and note how you're feeling and what you need. If you can, set aside an hour or so a day for activities you enjoy. This isn't being selfish; this is important time spent taking care of yourself and refueling for your other responsibilities. It may be helpful to encourage your children to do the same so they start this habit early in life.

Don't bury your emotions

There's a lot of pressure for people to be overwhelmingly positive when they face challenging situations. However, denying reality and the authenticity of your emotions won't help you in the long run. When you don't deal with feelings of grief, anger and disappointment, your emotions just build up until they finally boil over - usually by saying or doing something you regret.

Divorce is the end of a marriage and the realization that the life you thought you were going to have isn't to be. Acknowledging and respecting those feelings is a crucial step in moving forward. If you or your children feel like you're having difficulty processing these feelings, setting up an appointment to talk with a counselor or therapist who specializes in divorce and life adjustment issues may be helpful.

Focus on the good

Maybe you can finally sign up for that yoga class without your ex complaining about the cost, or moving into a new home has given you the chance to redecorate. Finding a positive to focus on every day can help you remember that it's not all bad.

If you feel like you can't find any positives related to your divorce, that's OK. Remember: There's a whole world out there. Get up early for a quiet moment in the morning and enjoy your coffee while watching the sunrise. Take the children to a park or for a short nature hike to remind yourself of the beauty and peace in the world. And if all else fails, remind yourself that you are alive and coping, and that this too shall pass.

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