Your well being in a separation: Looking after yourself
" Sleep can be a vicious circle during a difficult time like a separation. You don’t sleep properly because you are worrying or plagued by all the bad thoughts you kept at bay being busy during the day and this then impacts on your ability to cope, this in turn means you worry more at night and sleep less "
In this series of blogs we’re looking in detail at well being and how to look after yourself during a separation. We’ve already talked about identifying your stress points and getting support when you need it. The Getting Support blog also looks at how you can support a friend or family member going through a separation. In this blog we’re going to be giving some tips for looking after yourself.
This may be the last thing you feel like doing when you feel low and overwhelmed but exercise releases endorphins in the brain which are the brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitters so this can help to make you feel a lot better. We’re not talking about HITT work outs or going hell for leather in the gym (unless that’s your thing in which case go for it!). If you can manage a short walk, or swim or yoga session then you are likely to see the benefits. There’s also research about the beneficial effects of being outdoors in nature if you can manage a short walk. This doesn’t have to be a trek out to the country if you live in the middle of a big city. It can be a short walk around your local park. If you feel overwhelmed by this idea why not try it for 15 minutes each week. If you notice yourself feeling better then you can always aim to increase this or try doing it more often. Interestingly some clients have reported to us that exercise helped them to deal with anger they were carrying which had been directed towards their ex partner.
2. Eating right
We all know that we’re supposed to put the right fuel in our bodies to feel at our optimum. But trying to carry on with normal life when you’re dealing with life after a separation can seem way too much. Just turning up for work, or managing to get your children to and from school can seem like a hard ask let alone trying to pull together a green smoothie and a kale salad. Again making small changes can be a good starting point as it allows you to incorporate small manageable changes bit by bit. You could start by saying you will make yourself a salad for lunch one day in a week and/or cook a healthy tea on the day it’s most likely to happen and see how that pans out. If you have friends and family asking you what they can do to help then why not ask them to cook meals for you that you can keep in the freezer? Don’t beat yourself up if you have bad days and eat less nutritious food, or don’t manage to eat much at all. Keep your eye firmly on the small changes you make and tell yourself well done for managing this in such a difficult situation.
3. Getting enough sleep
Sleep can be a vicious circle during a difficult time like a separation. You don’t sleep properly because you are worrying or plagued by all the bad thoughts you kept at bay being busy during the day and this then impacts on your ability to cope, this in turn means you worry more at night and sleep less. But not sleeping enough can have a huge impact on almost all areas of your life from your health, to your appetite and your levels of concentration. If you are struggling to sleep then see if any of these tips are helpful:
• Try to turn off from the world before you go to bed so turn off your phone and have a bath or some downtime reading.
• Write down anything in your head that is worrying you. Sometimes writing things down can help to ‘park’ the thoughts until morning.
• Warm milk or lavender (or some combination of both but probably not lavender in warm milk!) may be helpful
• A guided meditation or relaxing music may help you to drift off or get back to sleep
• Read something calming if you wake up in the night rather than allowing your mind to go over all the current worries
• Talk to your GP if you’re not sleeping to see what might assist to break this cycle and help you to get a good night’s rest
4. Those around you
Friends and family often want to help in difficult times because they care about you. This doesn’t always mean that they know how best to support you. Sometimes support can in itself be a source of stress even though it was well intentioned. If this is happening for you then be aware of which people around you make you feel better and more relaxed and which people are causing you anxiety. If you find someone’s support unhelpful then having a conversation about what support you find the most helpful may help to guide them about what to do to best be a good friend right now. If you feel that that conversation is not possible then consider how you can create some distance between you so you can focus on your own well being and ensure that you are not exposed to any more stress – however well meant the person’s actions were.
5. Get support if you need it
We know this was the subject of our previous blog in this series but we feel it’s worth saying again because it’s so important. We also wanted to mention here more holistic support. We’ve talked about divorce professionals who might assist you in our previous blog. But you may also want to consider something like an aromatherapy massage to boost you mood. Or you may like to talk to a homeopath about any health issues you’re experiencing at this time. Alternative therapies like Reiki and Refloxology may also be beneficial. Knowing what is out there and being open to what might help you is useful in trying to get support that’s tailor made to you.
If you’d like to get more support and help to deal with a separation directly into your inbox then why not join our free mailing list? We also have a separate mailing list for professionals working with separating couples. This includes details of our forthcoming workshops and networking events.
To watch the Facebook Live discussing this post in more depth click on the video below