There's a reason divorce consistently ranks in the Top Three of life's major stressors, typically falling in second place, right after 'Death of a Spouse'. In a way, a divorce is much like a death. You're losing the person you thought you were (half of a couple). You're losing the life you've imagined, a way of living, a standard of procedure. Not only are you losing someone you once loved very much, you're also redefining a major portion of your own life and, if applicable, your children's lives.
No wonder you want that third bottle of wine.
There are a number of common comforts we run to when we go through such a traumatic life event. The problem is, sometimes these reactions leave us feeling even worse about ourselves. If there's any time for a little self-love, this is it. So the next time you feel the urge to drink a pitcher of margaritas or pop in a sappy RomCom, try these things instead.
When you want to: Eat your weight in ice cream
Try instead: Frozen yogurt
I know, I know - it's just not the same. But I'm here to tell you there are really tasty swaps available. Kemp's has a line of frozen yogurt that is so delicious you won't even know you're missing out. My favorite is Moose Tracks, which saves me 30 calories and 5 grams of fat per half cup vs. its ice cream counterpart. May not sound like much, but when you're eating the entire 1.5 quart in a sitting (amirite?), you're saving yourself the equivalent of half an hour on the treadmill.
When you want to: Spend another night with your girlfriends rehashing all the terrible things about your ex
Try instead: Finding a great therapist
Listen, your friends are great. And they'll definitely be there loyally, just as long as you need them. But there's only so much they can do, and there are only so many times they can offer advice. They don't want to see you hurting, and they may not know what to say anymore. Taking the time to seek out a great therapist can be life changing. First of all, you'll have a place to go and work through the sadness, anger, and frustration you're feeling in a healthy way. A therapist will help you find perspective, navigate the rough spots, and rediscover the person you really are, at the core. You'll get some great, healthy feedback and still be able to go get cocktails with the girls, afterwards. Speaking of...
When you want to: Drown in a pitcher of margaritas
Try instead: Wine, liquor, or drinking a glass of water between fruity cocktails
Surely you didn't think I'd suggest going for a run instead of drowning your sorrows? Exercise is awesome, and I strongly suggest you give it a try, but sometimes what you really need is a few girlfriends and a bender. Instead of drinking syrupy, sugary cocktails, you'll thank yourself for opting into a few glasses of wine or liquor instead. These options will get the job done without blowing a healthy diet.
When you want to: Reiterate all the reasons you suck and will never find love again
Try instead: A gratitude journal
Look, when life hands you lemons yadda yadda - it's a cliche for a reason. When we spend a great deal of time and energy focused on negative thoughts, we tend to see more negative things in our lives. This is a time of hurt, sure, and by no means should you stuff those feelings away. But taking ten minutes at the end of your day to write down just five things you're thankful for will help you keep your perspective in check and moving forward. If you don't know where to start, try the small things. The first days and weeks I would frequently enter things like 'Diet Coke', and 'I laughed today'. With time your good things will expand and you'll recognize them more and more often in your life.
When you want to: Binge on sappy RomComs and feel generally terrible about your inability to manufacture a happy ending like they do in Hollywood
Try instead: Watching something equally 'feely', but a little more empowering
Movies like Under The Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love will remind you that even though you can't see it now, there's a light at the end of this awful tunnel. They'll remind you that what you're going through is a process with plenty of bumps, but ultimately a happier ending. (They'll also motivate the hell out of you to book a trip to Italy immediately, and that's always a good idea.)
When you want to: Bring home every hot bartender you can find
Try instead: Pouring some time and effort into yourself
It's sometimes tempting to find a nice distraction in the form of that sexy smoldering man-candy behind the bar, but no one has ever felt good doing the walk of shame, not to mention potential STDs and emotional damage. Why not try rediscovering yourself instead? Take a class, read a new genre, learn a language, enjoy your friendships, book that trip to Italy. Spend as much time as possible remembering what it is that makes you so awesome and unique. Fall in love with yourself again.
Even the most cut-and-dried divorces are not easy. Taking some time to be kind to yourself now will pay off in spades, both in bolstering self-confidence and in making you a better partner down the road. While it takes time to heal, the better you treat yourself, the faster you'll find that light at the end of the tunnel.