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Minimizing Turmoil In Your Life

Self-Care During Divorce

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Take Care of Yourself

When you divorce, you tear up the rule book by which you lived your life. Without the rules of married life, you may find yourself acting out of character or reverting to the lifestyle of your single days. You may be tempted to involve yourself in risky or self-destructive activities. You could also find yourself embroiled in questionable romantic relations.

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Here are some guidelines to help you protect yourself during this risky time:

1. Take care of yourself.

Do your best to eat a healthy diet and do not skip meals. Keep to your normal routine. Exercise, go out with friends, keep up household chores, and spend time with your children. Get professional help if you feel overwhelmed.

2. Don't make any major changes for a year.

People often react to a divorce by deciding that since their marriage is ending, everything has to be changed. They change jobs, residences, cash in retirement accounts, or join a commune. You have enough changes in your life right now. If something in your life doesn't absolutely have to be changed, leave it alone.

3. Give yourself time.

You are going through a lot, and it is going to take some time to recover from it. Don't let anybody tell you to just get over it. You'll get over it in your own time. Most people start to recover in about a year or so. Some people require a lot longer. If you find your self stuck or can't function at your job or as a parent, it is time to get help.

4. Protect your job.

Your job is more important than it ever has been; don't do anything to jeopardize it. Tell your employer what is going on, and make up time if you have to. If you are unhappy with your job, be extremely careful. The unhappiness could be a reaction to the divorce more than anything else. If after a year you are still unhappy, begin a systematic search for a new position. Do it right: give proper notice and don't burn any bridges on your way out.

5. Stay out of personal relationships for at least a year.

You are at your most vulnerable right now. You are also seeking to redefine the new you. You will likely be a very different person in a year than you are right now, and odds are you will not ultimately fit with anyone you become involved with now. Any relationship you enter into right now will be based on panic, need, or simply grief. These are bad ways to start a relationship.

6. Keep your friends.

Some of your friends will feel awkward associating with you since your separation. Some will not and will be supportive. Keep them close. Friends can help in tough times. However, be very careful about taking any advice they might give you. You can listen to them, but before you make any decisions, get professional advice.

7. Keep your family.

Members of your family can be your greatest allies. Don't alienate them. Any unhappiness you may feel toward them right now may simply be a reflection of how you feel about the divorce process. It's possible that your family will want to defend you at all costs. Be very careful; letting them defend you at all costs may not be the best approach. Any advice they give you, or actions they want you to take, may not be in your best interests or what is best for your children. Talk it over with the experts you've hired before acting on any advice family members give you.

8. Take care of your finances.

Don't spend money on luxuries. Make the note payment on your car. You can't get to work if you don't have a car. Make the payment on the house if you can. If you can't, make sure your spouse knows about it; then whether or not the house can be protected will be a joint problem. The same goes for your other bills. However, the necessities of life for you and your children come first. Any money you have goes to protect people first, then assets, and finally, your credit rating. For example, if it comes down to buying food or paying off a credit card, the choice should be obvious.