When it comes to healing after a divorce, chances are you're battling the heartbreak blues. Said blues can be stubborn, so it's important to stay on top of them. Otherwise, they could morph into full-blown depression, and we want you on the road to bouncing back, not remaining stuck.
Here are some red flags for depression and tips for beating them:
For some of us it's natural to want to be alone when we're blue. We might not be able to imagine mustering up the energy to leave the house, much less have a conversation or, God forbid, have fun. It's essential, though, to push through this. And by 'push' I mean PUSH. It's hard to fight this one because the more you isolate, the harder it is to get out, and the more you stay in the easier it is to isolate. Forcing yourself to get out is the only way to break this cycle.
Schedule at least three non-work activities per week. While support from friends and family is invaluable after a heartbreak, doing things by yourself counts, too, as long as you're out of the house and it's healthy and enjoyable.
FEELING TIRED AND DISINTERESTED IN ACTIVITIES
The blues are adept at zapping our energy and sense of joy. As noted above, it's easy to fall into a cycle of the blues feeding fatigue and boredom, and fatigue and boredom feeding the blues. It takes effort to break this cycle or prevent it from building, because activity is the key. At first you might feel that you're forcing yourself to do things, but if you stick with it you'll likely find that you have more energy and regain a sense of enjoyment.
a) On non-work days, give yourself a deadline for getting out of bed and stick to it. It's almost guaranteed that staying in bed, as tempting as it is when we feel down, will feed the blues.
b) List ten things you used to enjoy and make time to do one of them at least once a week.
c) Exercise! Make sure it's something you enjoy. Joining a walking group or yoga class, or recruiting a friend to hike with are great ways to build in accountability and motivation.
A heartbreak can be a major self-esteem smasher if we're not careful. If we were broken up with, feelings of rejection and low self-worth tend to creep in. Try to catch yourself if you're wallowing in these thoughts, and take care not to define yourself based on a breakup. Remember the other areas in your life, and the strengths that contribute to you being good at your job, a good parent or friend, or anything else that defines you as a unique and good person.
Spend a few minutes before bed thinking back on the day. Notice moments when you felt capable, loved, strong, or just good in general. Write these down and really focus on them; let them sink in.
Above all, remember that while it's important to take an active role in beating the blues, it's equally important to be patient and flexible with yourself. If your action plan doesn't work perfectly the first week, don't give up! And, as always, if you feel so down that you're unable to function, seek the help of a trained professional; you don't have to go it alone.
Mary Darling Montero, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Santa Monica, CA. She specializes in relationships, life transitions, trauma, depression and anxiety, and is certified to practice EMDR for trauma resolution. She is a contributing therapy expert for BounceBack.com.
BounceBack helps people find happiness after heartbreak from a relationship breakup or divorce. It's a place to tell your story, get community support and advice from experts. Heartbreaks happen to everyone. And everyone has the potential to bounce back and move forward to a life full of strength, confidence, and happiness. www.bounceback.com