Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

4 years ago

Going through a divorce can be one of the worst emotional experiences in a woman’s life. Sometimes, the effects can be so detrimental that a woman is completely unaware of how destructive it can be to her mind and body– until something life-threatening happens. ”Life-threatening” can be anything from deep depression/nervous breakdown or excessive weight gain to onset of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. I’m sure that we've all read articles about the supposedly “sinister” results of being a divorced woman. They try to convince us that we are “doomed” to an early death if we don’t live and die in Monsters, Inc.

Well it doesn't have to be that way!


Image: Melissa King via Flickr


I often wonder if there are underlying motives behind those articles that say “divorced people are like a 1000% more likely (some exaggeration here) than married people to have health issues, money problems, depressions, etc… AS IF–we don’t ALL know PLENTY of depressed, unhealthy, married people who are on the verge of bankruptcy. LOL.

Do not allow opinions and statistics to deter you from doing what might be the best decision you've ever made in your life. If you know in your heart, mind & possibly wallet– that divorce is a necessity for you—do what you need to do in order to start on the journey to happiness. Notice that I did say “journey”. When you sign those divorce papers, there will not be a downpour of smiley faces and hearts that will shower you with love and pure contentment.

Maintaining a healthy life as a divorced woman is hard work. Being a divorced woman with kids is even harder. However, anything that requires hard work often yields greater rewards. This work can and will be very rewarding in the end, but it must be done with the right priorities in mind.

So what does that mean…"the right priorities"?

Well, in order to obtain and sustain a happy life after divorce, you must first put your own oxygen mask on first!

That means you need to take care of your needs first. Do what’s best for you in order to recover from this traumatic experience. Take time for yourself. Stop worrying about what other people think. If the kids are upset, know that, in time, they will recover with proper support. However, if Mom is not healthy and happy, then no one else will be either. YOU have to be healthy and happy in order to give your kids the best odds of recovering from divorce.

I believe there are a few very important things you can do on your journey to health and happiness:

1) Exercise 30 minutes per day. No excuses. It’s not easy, but the hardest part is getting to the door of the gym or to the high school track, etc. Once you get there and get going, you’ll be so glad that you did. There is a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of a workout. You will reap psychological, as well as health benefits from exercise. I lost weight and toned up after my divorce, not really on purpose, but my exercise activity increased because it improved my mood.

2) Prayer/Meditation. It is very important to renew (if necessary) and maintain a strong relationship with God. Through prayer and meditation, you will be able to seek guidance from the highest power and obtain/ retain the strength that you will need on your new journey. Amazing things will happen to you when you include prayer in your daily life. It worked for me…it can work for you.

3) Get A Good Night's Rest. This is difficult for me. To this day, I can count on one hand the number of 8-hour nights I’ve slept and trust me, I pay dearly for it. I know better adnd because I know better, I feel that I need share it with you. Proper rest will keep Cortisol levels healthy and under control (Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands that can cause increased body fat, blood sugar imbalances, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, etc…).

4) Find Support. Find on trusted confidant. This should be someone that you pretty much know for sure–will not gossip about what you’re going through. Notice that I said ONE. One good friend is usually enough. Also, this friend should be a platonic friend–not a new lover! This friend is someone that will be sympathetic to your situation, a shoulder to cry on and a helping hand (or two) when you need it. This person should NOT expect anything in return. I had a friend like that during my divorce hell–and she definitely helped me keep my sanity.

5) Seek Regular Medical Care. Make sure that you get your annual mammogram (and from what I understand-definitely if you’re 35 or older or considered high risk), annual physical, and annual Pap Smear. Don’t put off going to the doctor until you’re sick or healthy. Even when you feel good, you still need get examined in case there is an underlying issue. Remember, you need to be around to raise your kids. Otherwise, that ex-husband of yours may bring in someone else to take care of your kids in your absence (possibly in a very unloving way). We choke at the thought of that! UGH

Focus on the things I listed. The kids will survive even if they have to eat some TV dinners, walk the track with you (or stay home and do chores), go to bed earlier, etc. Don’t answer the phone every time (or at all) it rings. Stop explaining what happened to everyone. Limit the crying time and chocolate time...well you might want to keep the chocolate.

Stop trying to be Super Woman and first focus on being Super Stella! Get your Groove Back and everything else will just fall in place…trust me.

This is an article written by a member of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.

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