10 strategies for coping with a divorce

Medically reviewed by April Justice
Updated January 25, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Having a marriage end in divorce is something that can affect your mental health. Even if you believe that getting divorced was for the best, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be upset about the separation. Mourning your marriage and the grief process can be common aspects of divorce and you may need time to process everything that happened. Divorce can also have additional challenges, such as finances, extended family, and co-parenting. Coping with a divorce is possible and support is available to help you navigate this new chapter.

Coping after a divorce is possible

When going through a divorce, managing your different feelings and emotions may feel challenging. The following tips for managing divorce can help you to move forward in life rather than possibly feeling stuck in the past. You may decide to try all ten tips, or you could make use of just a few that you think will apply the best to your life.

1. Acknowledge your feelings

You may feel many negative feelings throughout the stages of divorce that may be difficult to manage. In the beginning, you may feel solace by simply acknowledging your feelings. Many people who get divorced or separate from their partners may feel it’s too fresh to think about moving on. Therefore, sitting with your current feelings without fighting them can be beneficial as you move through various emotional stages during the healing process. Try not to overanalyze as you work through this process, and accept your feelings without judgment. Crying can also release stress and emotional pain and help you manage a difficult situation— as opposed to repressive coping, where people bottle up their emotions and painful feelings. Consider writing down your feelings in a journal to keep track of them and notice how they change over time. 

2. Talk to your kids

While divorce can be difficult for parents, it may be even more so for kids. If you have kids with your ex-partner, it’s important to support them during this time too. Kids don’t always understand terms like separation and divorce so it’s vital to help them feel safe while you’re transitioning into a new chapter as a family. You can do this by being honest about the process of divorce and answering any questions they may have. Kids may experience emotions like guilt, anger, or anxiety during this time. They might also start to struggle in school or even act out at home. Helping them process their strong emotions and finding them professional help when necessary is essential to their well-being. You might consider seeing a family therapist together to provide your children with the tools they need to process their feelings and understand the changes to your family dynamic. Although you may have many negative feelings toward your former spouse, you may have to keep in mind that they are the other parent and you will need to cooperate with them to provide the best possible care to your kids. 

3. Get rid of reminders of your ex

Having your ex-partner’s belongings around the home may be upsetting to you on a daily basis during this difficult time. Managing with the divorce and the grieving process may be easier if there aren’t constant reminders of your former partner in your house. Many people find it easier to start over and purchase new belongings that don’t have any ties to the marriage. For example, you may decide to replace the couch that you both bought for your first home together. It’s natural if you can’t let go right away. Give yourself plenty of time and take steps as you feel comfortable with them.

4. Spend time with friends

Having support groups of friends may help you to move forward during a divorce. Spending time with friends can help you get your mind off the separation both during the divorce process and after. If you and your former spouse had many common friends, this may be a time to start making new friends or to spend more time with a trusted family member. The support you receive during complex issues like divorce mediation and negotiations can be valuable to you as you heal. Healing during a divorce might be easier if you have a solid support system of people who care about you and who are willing to help you feel better when you’re down. However, it’s important to realize that the negative emotions associated with divorce can cause you to withdraw from your friends and family. In some cases, this could be a sign of depression. You may not always want to socialize and engage in fun activities with your close friends, as you’re going through the grieving process that often accompanies separation and divorce, but social interaction can go a long way in improving your physical and mental health. Reach out to a mental health professional if your patterns of withdrawal are getting in the way of your relationships.

5. Surround yourself with family

Leaning on family members can be crucial when you’re dealing with a separation or divorce. Some people might need to stay with family while divorce mediation and negotiations are underway, and you may decide to use this time to ask for support and assistance. Having a support group that loves you in your corner can help you feel seen and heard in an otherwise stressful time. Family members can offer a listening ear while you work through your emotions surrounding the divorce, but they can also help with practical tasks on your list, like moving your belongings.

6. Find a hobby

Hobbies can be an effective way to relieve divorce stress and ease emotions while managing with divorce or separation. New interests or previously enjoyed hobbies can be helpful for your overall mental health. Take some time to consider what types of hobbies interest you the most and research classes or groups that you can take part in. Some people may decide to learn a musical instrument while others might be more interested in playing games, making arts & crafts, and competing in sports. Picking a hobby and dedicating some time toward it can be good for your emotional health while also taking your mind off the complexities surrounding a divorce. You may also meet new people who have similar interests as you do, who can then become a part of your community.  If you invest time in yourself, you may find divorce easier.

Hobbies and new interest can also help you start to establish a new schedule or structure to your daily life. While it may take some time after divorce to return to normal, weekly routines can be of benefit while you process difficult emotions and deal with stress. You might consider starting to build a new structure to your life to help cope with the potential chaos that divorce can bring. According to Mental Health America, keeping to your normal routines as much as possible can be beneficial during this time.

7. Exercise regularly

Exercising is important for your overall physical health, but research also attests that it has a myriad of mental health benefits too. Try to spend time moving each day, as it will benefit you both in the present and in the long run.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise has even been linked to improving the psychological well-being of people experiencing depression and anxiety by “easing their symptoms.

Exercise can provide you with more energy, but it’s also known to help you to feel happier and enjoy life in a natural way. This is due to the endorphins released in your body that provide a natural “high.” Exercise can look different for everyone. You might participate in light activities, like yoga, walking, or even gardening. Or you may choose to do more vigorous exercises like sprinting, swimming, or hiking a difficult terrain. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day to stay healthy and reap the maximum benefits. If you re-energize with exercise, this may not only benefit your overall health but allow you to easier deal with your stress levels and the divorce.

8. Consider religion

For many people, religion can help them to find solace. People who are religious may want to seek guidance from faith leaders in the community. For those who aren’t religious, turning to a mentor for advice may be a suitable alternative. Seeking counsel from a religious figure or mentor may help you center yourself during the intricacies of divorce. You may find that your religious community serves as a support group during this period of life.

9. Explore the dating scene

While it may be a little while before you feel ready for love again, dating may be something you desire in the future. Following a divorce, you may find yourself at the stage where you look forward to connecting with someone romantically again. Studies have even found flirting to be beneficial for reducing stress. You may decide to embrace casual dating instead of looking for something serious right away as you process your emotions after the divorce. It’s also possible that you meet someone with whom you’re compatible in the early stages of your separation and embrace this new connection. There are many ways to meet other singles, such as through online dating apps or meeting people through friends or family. Be sure to embark on this experience at your own pace and when you’re ready while remembering that a new relationship may not feel exactly the way your old one did. There’s no need to rush a new relationship, and you’ll often experience more success and healthiness with a new partner when you give yourself enough time to heal.

10. Seek therapy

Divorce can turn your world upside down and involve many difficult psychological and emotional stages that can be difficult to deal with on your own. Seeking therapy can be beneficial when you’re experiencing challenges during and after a divorce. A therapist can help you work through your emotions while giving you various skills to use when you feel sad, confused, upset, and even angry. A divorce can be a complex and emotionally draining situation, and you shouldn’t have to go through it alone. You may feel anxious about the major decisions you have to make or the potential power struggles you are going through with your former spouse, or perhaps you want help developing a more positive attitude to get you through difficult times. If you’re having trouble managing on your own or if you feel like your self-esteem is at a less than optimal level, reach out to a professional who can offer you support.

Coping after a divorce is possible

Online therapy with BetterHelp

Whether you’re considering a divorce, in the middle of one, or trying to move past one, it can be difficult to do — especially on your own. Divorce can lead to a variety of mental health concerns, such as anxiety or depression, and a professional’s help is often vital to overcoming them. You can connect with a therapist who specializes in divorce through BetterHelp, an online therapy platform. 

Internet-based therapy has many perks for clients, including availability, as there is no requirement to commute to an in-person appointment. Plus, it’s typically more affordable than traditional counseling because participants don’t need to travel for a session with their therapist. Divorce can already be expensive enough; the cost of getting proper mental health care doesn’t have to add to your stress. 

The effectiveness of online therapy

Online therapy can be a viable option for a variety of concerns, whether faced by individuals or couples. According to a study published in the American Psychological Association, online therapeutic interventions can help with mental health issues that result from divorce. Participants who received online therapy experienced reductions in anxiety, depression, and somatization, showing its usefulness after a separation.

Takeaway

Divorce can be a stressful experience emotionally, financially, and mentally. There’s no timeline for healing. Everyone copes differently and moves at their own pace. If you’re struggling to cope with the difficult emotions that commonly come with a divorce, it can be wise to reach out for help from a mental health professional. In online therapy, you can learn the skills you need to process your feelings and move forward in a healthy manner.

Marriage can come with complex challenges

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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