5 Tips for Healing Divorce Trauma in the New Year

There’s no question that divorce is one of the most difficult experiences an adult can face. But some divorces can be especially so, even to the point of causing trauma. People often consider traumatic experiences to be related to violent crime, a natural disaster, illness, or the death of a loved one. But really, it can be any situation that threatens your well-being physically and/or psychologically. Divorce certainly fits that criterion in many cases, particularly if it involves public fighting, aggression from your ex, drawn-out litigation, custody battles, or all of the above. But there are ways to heal, and the new year is the perfect time to start that process. Learn how.

Types of Trauma

Before we discuss healing, let’s look at the basic types of trauma, which include:

  • Acute Trauma: This can result from a sudden event threatening your life and safety.
  • Complex Trauma: This type of trauma occurs from negative experiences over time, say your soon-to-be-ex has been controlling and emotionally abusive throughout your marriage. 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This doesn’t just occur with victims of war; anyone can develop PTSD from trauma. You may have flashbacks or anticipate experiencing the trauma again now or even months later.

Divorce can trigger one or more of these types of trauma, and your response can be physical and emotional, with symptoms that include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Lack of focus
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Feeling helpless
  • Changes in eating habits

Healing Divorce Trauma

While love changes the physiology of the brain, a traumatic divorce can do the same by triggering your fight-flight response. This is your brain’s way of protecting you, but to heal, you have to overcome that and cope with the trauma. These tips can help in healing divorce trauma.

1. Acknowledge the Trauma

Women, in particular, seem to feel like they need to stay strong, whether it’s for the kids, to keep up appearances, or even to show their ex they didn’t break you. But you can’t “I’m fine” your way into making it true. Acknowledging the trauma isn’t weak; it can actually be the first step toward healing.

2. Grieve Your Loss

To move on, you must mourn what you’ve lost. True, you may be much better off divorced and away from your ex, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t allow yourself to grieve the betrayal, the loss of safety, the loss of hope, the loss of sense of self, whatever was taken from you during the marriage and/or divorce.

3. Lean on Your Support Network

Healing Divorce Trauma

Many people feel ashamed about getting a divorce, particularly if it’s tumultuous, like they’ve somehow failed. As a result, they often pull away from friends and family rather than lean on them. Don’t do that to yourself! Not only is it unwarranted, but it can also make a tough time even harder. Divorce support groups are another way to feel less isolated and help you heal.

4. Seek Professional Help

Healing Divorce Trauma

While having a support network of family and friends is of great importance, professional help may be necessary for the true healing of divorce trauma. Therapy can give you a safe space to explore your pain, help you learn coping strategies, determine where you want to go from here, and promote self-esteem. In general, having an objective voice can offer you a fresh perspective.

5. Practice Self-Care

Make time to take care of yourself. Finding a healthy way to reset and de-stress is critical, whether it’s enjoying a hobby, meditating, journaling, exercising, or something else entirely. It will not only help you to handle the divorce process better but also help you heal going forward.

To learn more about our divorce coaching and mediation services, contact our experienced team today!

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