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10 Effective Tips for Surviving Divorce and Coming Out Stronger

Katherine Cullen - Writer for Top10
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A happy woman sitting in the back of a car after filing for divorce.
Divorce can be a tumultuous rollercoaster ride, and as someone who has been through it, I know firsthand how challenging it can be.

Going through a divorce is tough, no matter the reason, due to the emotional ups and downs it brings. While the circumstances leading to separation can vary greatly, the practical challenges that come up during this process are often universal.

Here are some tips on handling these hurdles, including getting support, setting boundaries, taking care of yourself, and considering online therapy.

1. Learn How to Cope With Emotional Turmoil

While incompatibility is often a major culprit in separation, couples may also split due to addiction, domestic violence, infidelity, or a tragic loss. Divorce isn't just about one thing; it's a tangled web of emotions and circumstances.

The emotional turmoil of going through a divorce can be mind-boggling. Your dreams crumble, and reality feels surreal. If things get ugly with your ex, it can be a never-ending battle. Add kids to the mix, and it's like navigating a minefield.

There are five common strategies that people can use to deal with the situation:

  • Leaning on friends and family: Friends and family can be helpful sources of emotional support to shield you from the stress of a divorce.
  • Joining a support group or psychotherapy: Support groups and professional therapy can help connect you to others going through a similar process. They also create a safe space to grieve the loss of your relationship and rekindle your identity.
  • Taking care of yourself: Self-care, like improving your sleep habits, journaling, trying new healthy recipes, or exercising, can support emotional stability and physical health.
  • Exploring personal interests: Pursuing new interests can help you solidify your separate sense of self and build up feelings of empowerment.
  • Taking a break: Requesting reassignment or leave to spend some time alone from work can help lighten your load.

2. Find Emotional Support

I can't stress this enough—having a support system is vital during and after a divorce. Whether it's friends, family, or a therapist, their empathy and understanding can be your lifeline.

When reaching out for support, be clear about what you need. Do you want someone to listen to you? Or would you like people to spend more time with you so you won't feel as alone or isolated?

3. Seek Professional Help

I've found professional therapy to be a game-changer. It equips you with coping skills, which are like your emotional toolbox. Therapy can also help you challenge negative beliefs and guide you through the grieving process.

For example, if you think you won't find a partner after a divorce, a therapist can help you examine this thought and encourage you to consider the positive truths about your self-worth.

» Learn how online therapy works.

4. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries after divorce is essential for healing and rediscovering yourself. These boundaries act as your shield, keeping additional obligations, demands, or people who may drain you further at bay.

For example, you can set a boundary with your ex through communication. If you feel distraught by phone calls with your ex, you can tell your ex-spouse that you want to communicate over email only to discuss matters related to plans or your children.

It may be challenging to establish boundaries initially, especially if you're not used to it. And you must prepare yourself for the possibility that some may not react positively to your boundaries. Remember that it's okay to say no when you need space to cope and process.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness, like meditation, can help manage the stress of a divorce.

In a distressing moment, try the 54321 exercise: Identify five visible things, four tangible items, three audible sounds, two scents, and one taste. This grounding technique forces you to focus on your immediate surroundings to help calm anxiety or other overwhelming emotions.

Another calming approach is to visualize your thoughts as movie credits rolling down a screen or clouds drifting across the sky.

6. Tackle the Legal and Financial Issues

To navigate the bureaucratic side of divorce, it's wise to consult a financial advisor and a divorce lawyer. But, external, professional help with divorce costs money. With your ex-spouse, make sure to be clear about what you can and can't afford.

As you move forward, create a budget for your individual financial responsibilities. Ideally, ex-partners should be able to communicate effectively about finances post-divorce. But, when this isn't possible, setting alimony and child support terms with a lawyer before finalizing the divorce can reduce financial strain.

7. Gather Resources

A certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) can help with monetary planning—if your budget allows. But if money is tight and hiring lawyers or financial experts isn't an option, seek out legal aid societies or consult local social services.

Depending on whether you were married in a religious institution, you may also need special approval to formalize your divorce. This can include petitioning a tribunal for an annulment as a Catholic or obtaining a Get for a Jewish wedding contract.

8. Co-parent Effectively With Your Ex

If you have kids, you need a clear co-parenting plan that outlines:

  • How to split time with your children
  • Who gets the kids on which holidays
  • When to schedule drop-offs
  • How to handle expenses

Having a written plan and a shared online calendar helps coordinate your children's schedules and activities. Remember: Always prioritize your kids' well-being. Avoid speaking negatively about your ex in their presence and shield them from any divorce-related conflicts.

» Are your kids suffering?

9. Establish New Goals and Rebuild

After a divorce, setting new goals helps boost your sense of control and empowerment. It's about rebuilding your self-confidence and fostering personal growth, which may have taken a hit during the divorce.

While exploring new interests and hobbies is important and can help you heal by expanding your identity beyond the marriage, you need to move forward and open doors to new connections.

10. Try to Forgive Your Ex

After a divorce, forgiveness and closure can be like soothing balms for your emotional wounds. But this isn't a reunion; it's a pledge to release someone from their debts to you. Forgiveness is about shedding grudges, not condoning hurt. By forgiving them, you free yourself from any lingering bitterness as you step into a brighter future.

There are many avenues to consider when it comes to seeking emotional healing and closure. In my experience, journaling and free writing can help unearth hidden feelings.

Embrace Your Journey to Wholeness

Divorce is one of the hardest things a person can go through. But here's a reassuring truth: You're not alone. To lighten your load, connect with those who've experienced divorce and find strength in supportive communities or starting therapy.

As you set new goals and discover the power of forgiveness, friends, family, or professionals can offer invaluable support. Their presence can help you navigate life's challenges and remind you of your worth and potential.

» Looking to boost your well-being? Try these techniques to keep mentally healthy.

Katherine Cullen - Writer for Top10
Katherine Cullen is a psychotherapist in New York City and co-author of The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration. Her work has been published by numerous outlets, including Psychology Today, Cosmopolitan, and Self.

The author of this article has been paid by Natural Intelligence to write this article. Neither the author nor Natural Intelligence provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.