Quick: think of five things you took care of today. Getting the kids up and ready for school? Made sure any assignments or projects were in their backpacks? Arranged the boss’ schedule? Did a quick check of work emails after dinner? Listened sympathetically while a friend dished about her mother for the fourth time this week? Made sure the dog had his flea medication? I’m sure there is a long list. Here’s a question: were you anywhere on your list? When was the last time you did something for yourself? I’m not talking about a spa day; just a few simple breathes?
The Importance Of Practicing Self-Care During and Post-Divorce
Women are caretakers and accommodators. Those are lovely qualities. Women look after the needs of their children, their partner, their parents, their siblings, their friends, their pets, their co-workers. What they don’t usually do as successfully—or as often—is look after themselves. You may have been told that spending any time at all focusing on yourself was selfish or narcissistic. Maybe your parents gave you that erroneous information or maybe it was your husband. The truth is that unless you take good care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. Remember the airplane instruction of putting on your own air mask before helping others? You may be more concerned about making sure your children are transitioning well during or after your divorce, but the truth is, unless they see a healthy mother who is taking care of herself, they can’t truly be alright. You can fool some of the kids some of the time but you can’t fool all of the kids all of the time. You may put on a cheery face but they know you’re sad and frazzled. What can you do to help yourself so you can help others? Here are a few ideas:
- Meditate first thing in the morning and last thing at night,
- Practice yoga or another non-torturous way of moving your body in kindness,
- Listen to soothing music,
- Take a warm bath with aromatherapy oils,
- Learn a new language or hobby,
- Join a book club,
- Listen to inspiring and uplifting podcasts,
- Join a Meetup group to make new and healthy female friends,
- Schedule a weekly therapy session with a therapist you can trust.
You don’t have to do this alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence. You don’t have to pretend that everything is alright when it’s not. But you do have to acknowledge yourself, your feelings and the fact that you are a woman who deserves to be cared for.
And Don’t Forget Legal Self-Care
The anxiety and stress that can build from failing to put oneself first when it comes to the legal side of divorce also takes a toll. Unanswered legal questions floating in the back of your mind get pushed down in favor of all the other things that need to get done that day. Or, maybe your friends, family member or even your ex want you to know their opinions on legal issues that you haven’t thought about or aren’t ready to discuss yet. The bottom line is, when it comes to understanding the legal side of divorce, don’t put yourself second.
Take 15 minutes each day to read a chapter in a book, skim a helpful article, listen to a podcast or visit your local court’s divorce page to read the answers to frequently asked questions. Knowledge is empowering, especially in divorce. Reading about divorce is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when practicing self-care, but it helps to reduce the anxiety that comes with being uninformed. Remember, lowering anxiety is one of the goals of putting yourself first. Starting with small (15 minute) doses will help this self-care goal remain manageable and not overwhelming.