Eight simple rules for managing your stress during divorce

Posted in Divorce.

When the stress gets to be too much in situations such as a death in the family, pressure at school or in the workplace, and especially during a divorce, you may benefit from one (or more) of eight useful coping strategies. While medical treatments can help when you are down or stressed out, these eight powerful – but simple – strategies can often transform a bad situation into something more manageable.

I hope you are feeling better already.

As a doctor, I know that when a person is dealing with significant anxiety and depression, a combination of medication and counseling is often advised. And in the case of severe anxiety or depression, medical treatment and counseling may be required. You can consult your doctor and see what she thinks. But if your symptoms fall short in severity, it may be worthwhile to try these coping strategies. At its best, coping strategies may help you to overcome your suffering, or if medical treatment is still needed, utilizing a number of these approaches may minimize the need for medication or therapy.

1. Try meditation, mental imagery or prayer. Clearing your mind can prove to be very beneficial in your fight against mental clutter and stress. Pick up Wherever You Go; There You Are by John Kabat-Zinn for a good introduction to meditation. If the Divine is part of your life, prayer may be truly helpful. It can be very calming to experience a God who cares about you when you are down.

2. Try yoga and exercise. Not only is it immensely advantageous for your body, but also, it underscores the connection that depression has with both your mental AND physical health. Join a fitness club, and if you are in high school or college join a sports team or an intramurals team. Take a martial arts class. Not only will you find yourself having fun, but you will also burn calories as you burn off some stress. Find any excuse to exercise. Even if you don’t go to the gym, you can walk to a store or take half an hour to listen to music while walking around your home. Exercise stimulates neurotransmitters and endorphins that can sooth you when stressed. Moreover, since stress is associated with cell ageing, it has been found that exercise plays a role in reducing cell ageing caused by stress.

3. Get fresh air and light! Resigning yourself to sitting in one room the entire day is detrimental to your state of mind. Our ancestors spent a lot of time outdoors, and produced copious amounts of vitamin D, which we sorely need. Do not underestimate the power of fresh air. Make sure to move about the house, cracking windows to let in fresh air and light, especially if you have what is known as “seasonal affective disorder” when you feel badly during the winter time when the sky is a gloomy gray and sunshine is rare. Additionally, sunlight is often key, because artificial light can cause eye-strain and fatigue, whereas natural sunlight can stimulate a biologically based feeling of contentment. Try painting rooms inside your house or apartment a happy color like yellow and peach. Get more lights to keep your home bright and warm. And when in the work place, take 10 minute stretch breaks every hour or two. Step outside for a minute or two when you take a bathroom break. If you’re near the window, pull the shades to let in light.

4. Enjoy the company of friends and family. Don’t isolate yourself. Let yourself have fun, and be aware of the people who would like to hang out with you. There are people who care about you very much. Don’t push them away. Have dinner together, go to parties, enjoy movies, listen to music that brings back good memories, and cook with your buddies. It bears repeating: you have friends and family who love you. And don’t be shy – take a hug. Being touched in a healthy way can be truly therapeutic when you are feeling lousy.

5. Make a list of things that make you happy. Are there some scents that give you that nice nostalgic feeling or music that warms you? There is bound to be. Find those shampoos, soaps, lotions, perfumes, and candles with those scents. Do you like the scent of apple pie? Bake it. According to Pamela Dalton, PhD, a sensory scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, scents are powerful in how they can take you back to the memory of when you first encountered that smell, and alter your emotional state to be like it was then, which is particularly good if the memory is a happy one. Music can do the same thing because it touches our soul at the deepest level. Remember that the reassuring psalms of the Bible where originally songs.

6. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Having a regular sleep cycle is very important for your circadian rhythm and sets you up for a good start each day. This is especially important if you are suffering from inso

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