During and after divorce, there are some perfect tips to care for yourself. Of course, care of the self translates to happier coParents, happier children.
- Eat well and pay attention to nutrition guidelines. Make sure you take a high B vitamin as well a multi-vitamin. They will help with stress and give you energy. Remember that stress tends to strip your body of essential nutrients and serotonin. Taking vitamins and eating well will help replace what you are losing as a result of added stress. (O’Donnell, 2007).
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is essential to maintaining your health and emotional well-being especially when you are under stress. If you have trouble sleeping, drink a cup of warm milk. Warming the milk brings out natural L-tryptophan, an amino acid that is naturally found in the body that will help you fall asleep (by the way, turkey also is full of L-tryptophan). If you need more help sleeping, melatonin is sold is health food stores and is also a natural enzyme that is found in2 the body, but it is also a great natural sleep aid. (O’Donnell, 2007).
- Exercise – even if you hate it. At least take power walks so that you get your heart pumping a little and stimulate your endorphins. Endorphins are the peptides in your brain that activate the opiate receptors (in other words, they make you feel very good). This again is particularly important for helping cope with the stress of a divorce.
- Pamper yourself: Take hot baths, use essential oils and bath salts in your baths, use luxurious feeling creams on your body, burn wonderful smelling candles- particularly lavender for relaxation. Get a massage, sit in a steam room or sauna, read a great book. Do whatever makes you feel relaxed and renewed. Please know this is for men, as well as for women.
- Be careful that you do not begin to drink alcohol excessively. The rule of thumb is 1-2 glasses of wine or one drink of hard liquor 2-3 times a week. Some people have one glass of wine every evening. However, this is a vulnerable time and just pay attention to your consumption. If it becomes greater than what I am describing, or if you are also taking prescription anti-anxiety medication, please seek help. Speak to your family physician, a psychologist, social worker, an addiction specialist, or attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. They are listed on the internet and have many meeting times in cities and small towns all over the country. I bring this up, since going through a divorce can also be a time where people begin to abuse alcohol and other substances as a way to numb the pain they are experiencing. It is nothing to be ashamed of. As I’ve said, divorce can be devastating and people often don’t have the coping mechanisms to know how to deal with the pain and alcohol and drugs are often the first line of defense (although the least healthy)!
- Get a Physical: Call your family physician or internist and go have a complete physical. Stress can bring on all sorts of conditions such as thyroid, anemia, high blood- pressure, ulcers, etc. Chances are there will probably be nothing wrong, but it never hurts to be careful.
Ask Dr. Jann