Women are traditionally care-givers. I don’t know where the idea came from, but somehow women have this need, or shall I say self-imposed pressure that their mission in life is to be martyrs, do everything for everyone, anytime and to perfection. Unfortunately, we are sometimes so busy taking care of everyone else, that we forget to take care of ourselves. Some people think self-care is selfish. In reality however caring for ourselves enables us to better care for others. It is the airplane oxygen mask analogy: “Put your oxygen mask on before you assist others, because you can’t help anyone if you pass out.”
As a divorce coach and mediator I see this all the time. My clients start talking about everyone around them, complain and vent and really feel like they can’t go on and when I ask, “What about you?” The response I receive is typically a startled surprise. “Me”, it’s not even a thought that crosses their mind. In some cases, I see women who have embraced this traditional role and focused their lives completely on their husband and children. I can tell you both from my own experience and from my client’s stories, men don’t want that. They married YOU, not some idea of what a wife and mother should be. I also see women who hide behind their role as care-givers. They lose themselves in the process and eventually identify themselves with the roles they have taken on, rather than the women they are. The saddest and most shocking part is how these women are often blindsided when it comes to their divorce.
You believed that all your hard work would be appreciated without realizing that there was crucial piece missing from the equation – YOU. So, it’s time to silence those saboteurs and focus on yourself for a change.
So how do you change that? How do you go from being a selfless martyr to a healthy balanced woman who is able to give to yourself?
The answer is self-care. When I see women who are generally happy in their lives I know they take the time to care of themselves, giving them the balance as well as the energy they need to care for others. Self-care is more than just getting a manicure or a new haircut from time to time. It is really about nourishing your whole inner self, in order to restore balance in your life during this emotionally traumatic time.
In order to be in an emotionally healthy and balanced place, your mind, body and spirit need be aligned, and one can’t achieve that without dedicating time to self-care. Daily practice in self-care, especially during divorce, is essential to helping you find a calm, more centered you, so that you can meet these challenges head-on. Here are some great tips to start implementing in your life TODAY!
1. YOUR SPACE: Set up your own space. If you are still in the process of figuring out where you will move to, or can’t afford to move out of the marital residence, create a separate space for yourself that makes you feel at peace. Decorate the room with some new pillows or linen. Brighten it up with some paintings or flowers, or anything that you enjoy to look at. Make it YOURS AND COZY!
2. YOUR DIET: Eat healthy foods. Divorce is a stress marathon – use extreme measures in your exercise and nutrition plans to remain healthy, or become healthy. If you don’t take care of your health, you risk entering a cycle of fatigue and illness.
3. GET OUT – WORK OUT: Get outside, walk, walk, walk or run or whatever. I happen to hate walking, so I used to take drives to de-stress. Walking is definitely the healthier alternative. Start a workout program, whatever it is you like. Join a gym or yoga class. Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for the body. But exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.
4. MOURN & HEAL: Cry and mourn the death of your marriage. Cry and talk about your story for as long as you feel you need to, and reach out to someone that can help you heal. Many women make the mistake to move on before they have healed and bring in the hurt, damage and baggage of their previous relationships into their next one.
5. SUPPORT: Join a support group of likeminded women, who want to move forward and grow. The objective in this journey is to find the “BEST YOU” that you can be. Surround yourself with positive people and/or a positive life or divorce coach.
6. SOMETHING NEW: Start a new career, course, or hobby. It is a great way to meet new people, boost your creative mind and have a new outlet.
7. FORGIVE: When we are in the moment of something traumatic and painful, the pain feels so intense that it is hard to imagine that it could ever end or change. I am here to tell you that this experience will have an end and a NEW beginning. Prepare to forgive yourself and your new ex and be willing to move on. If you get stuck reach out to someone that can help propel you forward.
8. FRIENDSHIPS: With the divorce comes the loss or death of other relationships, and for the first time in your lives you might be faced with the cold reality of who your friends really are. Some of your previous friends may become toxic relationships, may take sides or just simply change. Evaluate your friendships, look deep within you and make the necessary adjustments to create a healthy network of supporting and loving friends.
9. BE OBJECTIVE & EDUCATE YOURSELF: Get reliable, legal information and guidance. Many of my clients fall apart because they have either been misinformed, or thought that the process would be faster and simpler. ALWAYS be prepared for the process to take longer than you thought. Save your energy. Don’t stop living and focusing all your energy on the divorce process. It will take a while and by stressing you are not likely to speed up the process.
10. OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH: Understand that this experience may be an opportunity for growth and insight. Be gentle with yourself, be prepared to make changes in your life and outlook. Tap into your spiritual essence for guidance. Get ready for the adventure of discovering yourself.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST……
A NEW FUTURE: Think of the future you envision, write it in a journal, daydream about your next partner and relationship. The energy we put out into the universe is what we attract to ourselves. In order to be ready for a new and improved relationship, you need to know what you want and believe that you can attain it. Last but not least see what parts of you need healing and nurturing and invest time in YOU!!
Self-care is a key ingredient to happy and healthy life, but when you’re going through stressful times, such as a divorce it is imperative and crucial to implement into your life.