Divorce and Seperation: Coping with emotions
From Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, to the more recent Cheryl Tweedy and Liam Payne, it seems celebrity breakups often dominate the headlines and it’s no surprise that marriages and long-term relationships don't always survive the strain of modern living, but there is some good news. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest there were 101,055 opposite sex couples getting a divorce in England and Wales during 2015, which is 9.1% fewer than in 2014 and a massive 34% fewer than in 2003.
Despite this downturn, there is still a need for support. A 2016 Relate report recorded that 2.87 million people in the UK were in 'distressed' relationships, with almost 1 in 5 couples arguing regularly or considering separating.
It’s often cited that along with bereavement, moving home, losing a job and being affected by a major illness, divorce and separation are regularly named as top causes of stress. And no wonder. The end of a long-term relationship can make you doubt your own identity and your ability to cope alone. It can also bring up feelings from past relationships, which may put a serious dent in your self-esteem.
Most experts agree that people going through a break-up typically experience feelings of overwhelming sadness or grief, not just when their relationship ends but for some time after too. Many also experience waves of other strong emotions such as anger, guilt, fear, worry and blame. Working on your resilience can help if you're going through a divorce or separation. Being resilient helps you to turn negative life events into positive ones.
While nobody would ever suggest that going through a break-up is easy, there are some tips you can follow to try and ease the burden. The wellbeing experts at CABA offer their advice if you’re dealing with divorce or separation:
Seek divorce advice and information
Going through a separation or divorce can be particularly daunting if you're in the dark about what's going to happen. Get as much information about the process as you can. This will help you to feel more in control of the situation. A good place to start is Gov.uk/divorce.
Reconnect with family and friends
We all have people we tend to rely on when life gets tough. These are the people who, no matter what, are always there for us when we need support. If the trauma of recent events has made you feel isolated, try to reconnect with the friends and family who make you feel better about yourself.
When you feel the time is right, try getting out and about more, connecting with new people. It can sometimes be difficult meeting new people and making new friends when getting older. But it’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone, try new experiences and meet new people.
Talking about your feelings can help you to cope with what you're going through. But if you prefer to confide in people you don't know, try those who are trained to listen, such as Samaritans Relate, or CABA.
Be kind to yourself
Take some time to do something that's purely for you. Think about what you enjoy such as a long walk, a soak in the bath, spending time on a hobby or other interest, reading a good book or watching your favourite film.
Try to devote some time to thinking positively about yourself. Try writing down something nice about yourself before going to bed each night for a week. Then during the following week, write down 1 thing you did well that day. Also, remember to eat as healthily as possible and get plenty of rest and sleep whenever you can. It’s important to ensure you’re not just physically but also mentally fit and healthy.
Seek out the positives
The saying 'every cloud has a silver lining' may not seem appropriate when you're going through a difficult time – indeed, it may even sound offensive. But it really can help to try and find the positives among what may seem like an utterly negative situation.
These positives may not be obvious at first – or perhaps all the positives look like they apply to your ex-partner rather than yourself. But keep trying. Remember: if you choose to respond to your situation positively rather than negatively, it may help you to move on with your life sooner rather than later.
Get help for depression
Going through a divorce or separation is a grieving process. But sometimes this can lead to depression. It's perfectly normal to feel low in such situations – at least for a while. But if you feel constantly low for more than 6 months and you experience other symptoms such as lack of energy and appetite, sleeping difficulties, lack of concentration or physical restlessness, it's a good idea to speak to your GP in the first instance.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce or separation, it’s important to remember that emotional wellbeing is just one aspect to think about. Financial matters are often cited as significant factors that can lead to divorce. But what about the costs involved in getting divorced or separating? It's often a good idea to get expert help from an independent financial adviser because making sure your finances are in order is an important step in ensuring your overall wellbeing.