Author: Lea Zweig, Psy.D.

Coping with Divorce or BreakupMost people would agree, “Breaking up is hard to do.” It’s not easy to go through a divorce or a break up even if you were the one who initiated it. Everyone copes with stress in different ways, but it is important to implement healthy coping skills to use during difficult moments in your life.

When you are faced with a major change in your life, emotions can be overwhelming and feel uncontrollable. You may feel sad, angry, frustrated, confused, or exhausted. It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions when you are dealing with a life change or difficult loss. It is important that you allow yourself to feel the emotions as they come and know that the emotions will reduce with time. During this period, you may have trouble keeping up with your daily routine. Routines help to serve as distractions, but you may not operate at your best level of functioning. Give yourself permission to grieve. It will get better with time.

It is really important to ask for help so that you do not have to go through this alone. This is a good time to lean on your friends and family to talk about how you are feeling. For some, it might not be comfortable to talk to anyone that you know about how you are feeling and what you are going through. If that is the case, then this would be a good time to initiate individual therapy with a therapist or psychologist, or join a support group.

It is important that you take care of yourself during this time. Deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help you cope with overwhelming or negative feelings. Make a schedule of things to do for the week to take care of yourself. Some examples might be a yoga class, going on a walk or a long hike, or any other healthy activity you might enjoy. It is important to stick to healthy coping skills. Retail therapy, drugs or alcohol, or using food to cope with the break up are examples of unhealthy coping skills that are important to avoid. This is not the time to make important life decisions, as you are likely already dealing with many emotions that affect your thinking. Give yourself time to heal before you make major life changes, commitments, or decisions.

There is no easy way to go through a divorce or break up. It will take work to get through this difficult time. Just keep reminding yourself that you are strong enough to get through this and it will just take time to heal. In the end, this major shift in your life will also give you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and how to cope with painful moments in your life. Please reach out for help if you feel overwhelmed. Individual therapy and/or support groups can help you learn more about yourself and how others may be coping with the same experience. If you have children that are affected by the divorce or breakup, it is a good idea to ensure they have proper support as well. Children can benefit from individual or family therapy with a child psychologist or therapist to ensure they are coping and adjusting well. Keep in mind that not all children need to undergo therapy when their parents separate or divorce, but it is a good idea to check in with your child to ensure they are getting all of the support, guidance, and nurturance they need during this life change.