Taking Care of Yourself During a Separation or Divorce

By Kristy Hansen  |  May 13, 2021

Kristy Hansen

Separation or divorce is one of the most stressful events that can occur in a person’s lifetime. Even when the decision to separate is for the best, the resulting disruptions to your emotions, routines, finances, living environment, and even your identity can take a huge toll.

As family lawyers, we hear firsthand from clients about this remarkably stressful experience. It may be difficult for you to manage and navigate taking care of yourself during this time. You might feel like the emotional pain and difficulty will never end.

Yet, having a prolonged negative mental state during this time period can lead to anxiety and distress. It is important to understand how you can take care of yourself and deal with the emotional impacts of your separation or divorce. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, managing your own stress and anxiety is important for maintaining personal wellness and good mental health. By managing your stress and anxiety, you will eventually find a new sense of hope and optimism about your future.

Here are five tips on taking care of yourself during a difficult time.

Tip #1 – Follow a Routine

Your routine is likely going to change. It is important to re-establish a new normal to create stability and ease anxiety. Getting your body used to a new routine will help you feel more centred and comfortable through the transition period of a separation or divorce.

Set a schedule for your day and/or your week that includes what time you want to wake up, go to bed, and what daily tasks/activities you want to tackle. Include some downtime in your routine to give yourself time to grieve and regroup.

If you are feeling particularly depressed and struggling to even do basic tasks, do your best to at least maintain your hygiene each day. Showering, brushing your teeth and hair, and changing your clothes can feel like monumental tasks when you’re depressed – but these accomplishments will make you feel better overall.

Tip #2 – Adopt Healthy Habits

We all know that eating healthy, sleeping well, and exercising are good for us. These things also greatly impact our mental well-being. The more we can incorporate nutrition, exercise, and a quality sleep schedule in our lives, the more equipped we are to mentally deal with stressors.

Do your best when it comes to these things. Trying to be perfect with exercising and eating well could be a recipe for failure. Exercising even once will release feel-good endorphins and boost your mood overall. A regular exercise routine – even if you miss occasionally – keeps you feeling good on a regular basis.

It also helps to abstain from drugs and alcohol. While they may feel good in the moment, the after-effects will make you feel worse than you did to begin with.

Tip #3 – Try a New Hobby or Volunteering

Leaving an unhappy or unsatisfying relationship can feel like losing the foundation of your life. But once the dust settles, it opens the door to new and exciting changes. Exploring new hobbies or volunteer opportunities that interest you will leave you feeling empowered and looking forward to your future.

Try new things until you find something you genuinely enjoy. Do whatever excites you. If there was a particular activity that you didn’t do during your relationship, but always wanted to try – go for it!

Many people find that meditation, yoga, and journaling are hobbies that double as useful coping strategies during times of high stress. Other ideas include taking a class, going to the gym, hiking, dancing, baking, or gardening.

Tip #4 – Seek Support

The end of a partnership can leave you feeling alone in the world. Combat your loneliness by reaching out to those around you. This doesn’t just include your family. Reconnect with friends, colleagues, or anyone else you trust.

If you don’t have friends or family around, try looking for a support group. Having like-minded people around to discuss your feelings and struggles will remind you that you’re not alone. Even if you’re living in a remote area or are unable to attend groups because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can search for online groups to connect with people.

Tip #5 – Be Kind to Yourself

Above all else, be kind to yourself during this difficult time. Try to remember that you were not the only person responsible for the relationship ending. Try not to beat yourself up if you feel like you mess something up along your healing journey. You are learning to be by yourself again, and this is a big adjustment.

Celebrate every victory along the way, no matter how small. If you can’t seem to stop arguing with your ex, celebrate every time you walk away from the conversation without engaging in an argument. If you struggle with taking care of yourself, celebrate every single time you do something on this list, big or small.

It is important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” approach to caring for yourself. You will certainly experience ups and downs through your separation or divorce whether or not you are focusing on self-care. Try to remember that the pain will diminish, time will heal you, and that you are doing the best you can.

The Henderson Family Law team can take some of the stress off you by assisting with the legal side of your separation or divorce. We love to see positive outcomes for our clients and wish you all the best in your journey.


This content is provided as a general informational source by Henderson Family Law, and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, or establish a lawyer-client relationship. Every situation is complex and fact-specific, and appropriate advice will vary accordingly. Do not rely on this information for legal decision-making under any circumstances. Please consult with us and obtain proper advice and strategy concerning the specifics of your particular situation.

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