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15 of The Best Ways to Start Healing After Divorce

The process of healing during the difficult time of divorce can feel overwhelming but there are effective, healthy ways to be successful on your healing journey.

When a relationship ends, it can feel overwhelming. In addition to the adjustments and logistics of unwinding a marriage, the healing process can take time.  These tips can help you begin to move on while addressing all that comes with the end of a relationship. 

Why a relationship breakup involves more than just a broken heart

 While the emotional pain of the divorce process or end of a long-term relationship can be devastating, the process of healing involves more than just managing feelings or learning how to navigate negative emotions. 

 The loss of your marriage is enormous.  Beyond experiencing the traditional stages of grief, daily life in its entirety is disrupted in a way that forever changes your routine and responsibilities. Suddenly, the familiar world as you knew it is sent into a tailspin. There are new schedules to adjust to, new financial plans to back into, new spaces to furnish, other important relationships to continue managing and perhaps even new employment to consider. The list goes on and on.

The emotional rollercoaster runs at top speed during this difficult time, making it harder to firmly plant yourself long enough to begin healing.  But there is practical advice to help slow it down. 

Picking a starting point for healing post breakup

For some, a good first step might be to acknowledge common fears, such as finances and the ongoing legal process.  Developing a plan to address these types of unknowns may alleviate just enough pressure for you to focus on other important pieces of your healing journey as well.

During this difficult process, it’s important to recognize that there are many things you can do to establish a new life and regain control in a healthy way – one that helps to provide physical, mental, and emotional support.  While the healing journey or recovery process is different for everyone, there is a new beginning waiting on the other side for all.

15 ways to begin healing after divorce or break up

1. Surround yourself with supportive people

The end of a relationship can be a perfect time to revisit or realign with your core values.  Perhaps you have been a couple for a long time and are trying to reclaim or identify your true self again.  Those who you choose to surround yourself with should be supportive of who you are, who you are becoming and the goals you are planning to achieve.  Your circle is valuable real estate and should be treated that way by you as well as those inside.  If there are people serving to hold you back or weigh you down now is the time to push them aside and make room for those who will help move you forward.

2. Exercise

Slogging through a breakup sucks up a ton of energy and wreaks havoc on self-esteem, stress levels and even your sleep patterns. Incorporating daily movement or regular exercise into your routine can provide tremendous benefit for your overall well-being and the healing process.  Studies show that regular exercise leads to positive effects on your emotional and mental well-being, including a reduction in stress, better sleep quality and improving overall mood.  Experiencing that rush of endorphins is a great way to build back self-esteem and confidence which can help keep negative feelings at bay.  

3. Secure long term legal assistance

It is a challenge to begin focusing on healing from the loss of your marriage during the stressful and emotional legal process of divorce. Your attention is scattered in hundreds of directions, making it difficult to make major decisions, let alone concentrate or even decompress long enough to focus on healing.  And for some, the legal process of ending a relationship or finalizing a divorce settlement can drag on for quite a long time. Developing a relationship with trusted legal counsel may help to reduce the amount of time and energy you need to spend on the dissolution of your marriage.  If you are in a highly contentious situation, it can also be helpful to seek out a family law attorney or firm that is experienced in high-conflict divorce cases.

4. Seek professional help

It is important to find healthy ways to process your feelings throughout your divorce journey.  Whether it is dealing with the initial shock of the divorce or another period of time during your divorce recovery, going to therapy can provide an opportunity to learn coping skills and talk through difficult situations.  Individual counseling can deliver a safe space for you to look inward and heal the past to begin the journey forward. Check with your employer about any mental health professionals you may have access to through your employee assistance plan (EAP) as well.

5. Obtain financial guidance

One of the four major components of mental fitness is financial health.  Feeling in control of your financial situation and being able to deal with money pressures is important to your overall well-being.  Divorce can cause financial unrest and high levels of stress, which impede your ability to focus on healing and moving forward.  There are a number of qualified professionals such as financial advisors and even certified divorce financial advisors (CDFAs) that can provide a clear picture of your current state as well as help you set realistic goals for your financial future, giving you better peace of mind and a comfortable plan.

If working with a financial professional is not within your budget, look to educate yourself through free or low cost resources such as books, financial seminars and workshops.  Check with your employer as there may be additional resources available to you through your employee assistance plan (EAP).

6. Declutter

Every item has a story.  Holding onto certain items can hinder the healing process by forcing you to live those stories repeatedly.  Seeing your ex’s old coffee mug in the cabinet every morning is not the best way to start your day if it conjures up negative feelings or takes you to a dark place.  If you hang on to the past it keeps you from being able to enjoy the present or look forward to the future. Look around your space and decide what should be tossed, sold, or perhaps even stored away.  If you have children, you may want to keep sentimental items but reconsider their location.  Family photos, for example, may come down from the main entry way but can still be relocated to their bedrooms or placed in an album for them to access.  Read more here for tips on how to declutter sentimental items.

7. Refresh your space

Whether you have moved into a new space or remain in the family home, a refresh can be a fun and healthy way to support your healing journey.  A change in paint color, replacing a few area rugs or even reorganizing closets can signal the feel of a fresh start and new life.  Grab a couple of close friends who love to decorate or organize and turn it into an event!

8. Engage with a coach

Coaching provides an opportunity to engage in a thought-provoking, creative process leading to a path of greater personal fulfillment and growth.  It is a remarkable resource designed to help move you forward and overcome challenge when you feel stuck.  Whether you engage with a specialty coach, such as a divorce coach, or a more general coach such as a life coach one of the most important things is to make sure you establish a good working connection with that individual.  If you are new to the world of coaching, read more here about the ways coaches help you inspire change and forward progress.

9. Explore new interests

Now is a great time to try new things!  As a couple you may have held back on exploring new hobbies or different things if your partner didn’t share the same interest level.  As a single person, that all changes.  Part of the healing process is discovering, or even rediscovering, who you are and what brings you joy.  You are now solo in the driver’s seat and in complete control of the roadmap.

10. Practice mindfulness and self-care activities

Although the healing benefit and practice of mindfulness and self-care tends to be highly regarded, it is often the first thing to suffer during times of intense stress such as divorce.  The good thing with self-care is that a little goes a long way.  It does not take much time to feel the positive impact or benefit of taking care of yourself.  Little things like taking five minutes to sit in silence, getting to bed a bit earlier or taking a brief walk outside can all be ways you take time to acknowledge yourself and your needs. Click here to access a Free Wellness and Self-Care Planner in printable PDF format.

11. Acknowledge your feelings

Be gentle with yourself.  This healing journey is a marathon, not a sprint.  There is no magic to completely take the painful feelings away and those feelings will still resurface from time to time. Little things such as passing a certain restaurant or seeing someone’s name in writing may serve as difficult reminders but the more you acknowledge that your feelings exist the easier it becomes to understand them and continue moving past them.

12. Journal

The pain of divorce can bring you to places of deep reflection. The good, the bad, every decision, every moment – your thoughts can be one chaotic run on sentence. The act of journaling provides another healing opportunity as a place where you can do a brain dump.  Your journal is a safe space, a no judgement zone that is for your eyes only.  Punctuation and proper grammar need not apply.  It’s a place where you can solely process your feelings, the good and the bad.  Your journal is the place where you can be free to let things go or decide what is worth taking up valuable space in your life.  Learn some of the best ways to begin journaling here.

13. Use Positive Affirmations

Divorce or the breakup of any long-term relationship can negatively impact the way you see or speak to yourself.  And this type of self-sabotaging behavior can serve as an obstacle to the healing process.  An affirmation is a positive statement, brief phrase, or word, that challenges low self-esteem, negative self-talk, destructive thoughts, self-doubt, and the practice of self-sabotaging behaviors. Through the consistent practice of using affirmations, your brain can begin to replace unhelpful and unsupportive thoughts by creating a positive feedback loop.  Click here to read 67 of the most powerful positive affirmations to help build back your self-esteem after a breakup.

14. Tap into your support system

A solid support system is crucial during the healing process and beyond.  Support systems are a great source of encouragement as you experience the inevitable ups and downs of building a new life.  It’s also important to recognize that support is found in many ways.  While family members or close friends can be an integral part of your support system, not everyone has those types of relationships to rely on.  Keep an open mind and acknowledge that support lives in other places such as volunteer groups that stimulate a gratitude mindset, social media groups where you can connect with others in similar situations, or church groups where spiritual needs can be fulfilled.  Look at the calendar and plan for certain dates you feel may be tough – anniversaries, birthdays, or other milestones – and consider filling those times with support related activities.  Find yourself a support group where you feel safe, strengthened, and encouraged. 

15. Get out and meet people

Meeting new people may not be first on your priority list after divorce but making new friends or healthy connections can be a great way to boost your healing journey. Use this time in life as an opportunity to expand your social network rather than feeling pressure to find a new relationship.  Join a new committee, volunteer group or try out a different class at the gym.  Set aside time and commit to getting out and surrounding yourself with a new group of people.

It is never too late to begin the healing process

The end of your marriage can be a devastating time but focusing your valuable energy on the healing process will help you land in a better place. Pick a starting point and decide to begin your healing journey today.  There is a new life waiting for you to experience every step of the way.