Pop star Christina Aguilera recently filed for divorce from her husband, Jordan Bratman. But, luckily, she has tremendous emotional support. “It’s impossible to redefine yourself and your life overnight. Thankfully, I have my mom and a small group of close friends who are there for me 24/7 and whom I can trust and depend on,” Aguilera said in a Redbook interview.”On days when it feels impossible to even get out of bed, much less function as a mother, their support and encouragement have kept me moving,” she added. Not all of us are so fortunate to have family and friends shepherd us through the ordeal of a divorce.
In studies of life’s most stressful events, being divorced is the number two life stressor, following right behind number one, being widowed. Both can plunge you into severe depression and health problems. If you fall into either of these categories, you absolutely need support.
Women who hadn’t gotten over a relationship by 16 weeks after the breakup had decreased activity in brain regions associated with emotion, motivation and attention. This is a physical change in the brain. That’s why it is so hard to concentrate on anything — so hard to get up and go. Do not let yourself go this length of time without intervention.
But what if you do not have a devoted circle of people to help you through the hard passage? Here are five clinically proven tips that can help you cope with the break-up even without strong social support:
1. Meditation/relaxation/journaling. Johns Hopkins researchers recommend practicing relaxation techniques to get rid of heartache. These include meditation, deep breathing or journaling out your feelings. These three practices have been shown to create oases of peace and acceptance.
2. Sleep. Sleep is very important in helping to elevate mood. When you’re depressed, however, sleep may be hard to come by. This is another reason to consider starting a regular relaxation or meditation program — these have been shown to help people sleep better. You can also try a warm bath with lavender oil and/or cutting off stimulating activities like checking email, texting, watching TV or surfing the web a few hours before bedtime.
3. Exercise. Exercise releases opioids, the all-natural painkillers in your biochemistry. Plus, hitting the gym regularly can help you feel better physically and mentally and release feel-good endorphins. To start, just try ten minutes of walking, stretching, or any kind of physical exercise and see what happens. Those ten minutes can carry you forward in every way!
4. Imaginary conversations with your Ex. Clinical studies show that people who have imaginary conversations with their partners which help them to say goodbye have more relief from grief than those who don’t. So sit down opposite an empty chair, imagine your ex sitting there and start getting things off your chest. Finish up by describing how brave you are to be processing all these things. Then bid him or her good-bye.
5. Therapy. Consider starting in therapy or counseling. This can be a rich time of self-discovery. And sharing with a trusted, compassionate and interested person also releases opioids in the brain. So your pain will lessen.
Even though it doesn’t feel possible right now, divorce is a crucible that can help shape you to become your best self. If you are going through a break-up, practicing these five tips will help you process and work through your feelings and move forward to a new you.
Follow Diana Kirschner on Twitter: