SIMPLE SELF CARE DURING DIVORCE AND BEYOND - Part 1
Self-care - defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress” - is never more important than when you are going through separation and divorce.
I list it as NUMBER ONE in my top tips to help you navigate your transition to single life ( check it out here ) and for good reason.
During the highly stressful and emotionally charged time around your separation and divorce, self-care is not a luxury. It’s a NECESSITY.
If you fall apart, so does everything else.
Audre Lorde, the writer, feminist and civil rights activist wisely wrote:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.”
And in the whirlwind of divorce, that is easy to forget.
Be kind to and nurture yourself in positive and healthy ways.
Beyond taking care of the basics – getting enough sleep, following a (mostly) healthy diet and exercising – there is a multitude of ways you can show yourself care and compassion.
Sure, you can splurge on weekends away, spa treatments and massages but here are some simple and low cost ways you can care for yourself each day during your divorce and beyond.
1. GO BAREFOOT
Get your bare feet onto the earth. Grass. Dirt. Sand. Mud. Stones. It doesn’t matter.
As someone with the healthy scepticism borne of a background in science and research, I can’t find firm evidence to confirm that grounding actually “works” to positively change our bodies but, from my own experience, I know how good it feels to scrunch my toes in the sand at the beach or the grass in my back yard.
Getting barefoot is a simple tool to bring me back to myself, make me pause and connect.
Allow yourself to experience the simple joy of moving your body. Don’t stay curled endlessly in bed or on the couch.
Stretch. Wriggle. Sway. Jump. Skip. Run. Dance. Swing your arms.
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which not only reduce physical pain but also elevate your mood. They are your very own “happy drugs” triggering positive feelings in the body, similar to that of morphine.
Movement releases endorphins, your body’s happy drugs. Happiness = self-love so however it feels good for you... get your body MOVING!
Loud, thumping rock. Gentle, grooving jazz. Calm, cruisy classical. Whatever matches your mood.
Stick your headphones in and drift away solo, or pump it up loud for everyone in the house.
Music is a powerful mood lifter and is the perfect free form of self-care.
“Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water” Christopher Morley (American writer). I would also add “by the soaking in” water.
Take a long shower. Run a bath. Float in a pool or the ocean.
Wash off your day and your worries.
Water, and tears, soothe and heal.
Mindfully sip your beverage of choice. Water. Tea. Coffee or yes, the occasional glass of wine.
Use a special glass or cup. Savour each sip. Take the time to really taste what you’re drinking.
A few times each day, simply stop and take three deep breaths.
Oxygenate and rejuvenate your body. Feel the air filling your lungs, and the energy spreading outwards to the tips of your fingers and toes.
Care for yourself in the simple act of taking a few deep, healing breaths.
7. THE GOOD STUFF
Even in the midst of the turmoil, mental and emotional, of divorce, the good stuff is there to be found.
Tune it to it.
Practicing gratitude is topical at the moment and don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s important and powerful, I’ve also found it hard to maintain on a long term basis. I simply run out of things, start repeating myself (“I’m grateful for my health, my kids, my relationships, my work”) and end up letting it slide. Sound like you?
I recently heard Hugh van Cuylenberg of The Resilience Project ( check them out here https://theresilienceproject.com.au ) speak at my kids’ school. He suggested a different approach which works for me. At the end of each day, simply think of three things that went well that day.
Did you tick something off your “to do” list”? Smile at a stranger? Speak calmly to your ex or your kids when you really wanted to lose your shit and scream?
You can also adapt this to be purely about self-care. List THREE WAYS you showed yourself care, love or compassion. This helps you tune in to yourself and the ways you do (and do not) self-care.
8. ONE MINUTE MEDITATION
We all know how good meditation is for our psyche and well-being. And, it doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out practice. If that’s something you already do, or are working on great. If not and like me, your meditation practice is patchy or non-existent, start with a minute a day.
Keep it simple.
STOP. FOCUS. Check in with your body. Tune it to your thoughts, feelings, emotions and the sensations you are experiencing.
Spend one minute attending to YOU.
I have found, as have many of my coaching clients, a physical declutter after separation cathartic and healing. A true act of self-love. For others, it’s overwhelming.
Do a mini Marie Kondo. Choose THREE THINGS from your wardrobe (or bathroom, kitchen, linen cupboard, bookshelf, desk) that don’t make your heart sing and pass them on.
There are also non-physical ways to de-clutter and I’ll write more about this in a later blog post (stay tuned). For now, as an act of self-care, do the same mini de-clutter with your social media feed.
Be brave and put yourself first.
Unfriend. Unfollow. Block. Sites or individuals that drag your heart and soul down, rather than lift and support you. Love yourself enough to let them go.
Pick 3. Just as a start.
Give yourself back some time to do something other than mindlessly scroll through Instagram or Facebook.
A study by Roy Morgan in May 2018, found that women aged 25-34 spend an average of 550 minutes a week on social media and those aged 25-49, 335 minutes.
What could you do with those minutes that would feed your soul? How else could you offer yourself some love and care? (See No’s 1-9 if you’re stuck!)
Choose a time – an hour, an evening, a day, a week – to UNPLUG from ALL electronic devices and TV.
Don’t read those texts or emails from your ex. Give yourself the love to choose differently.
11. USE NATURE
Lie on your back and watch the clouds or the stars, or the leaves moving in the breeze.
Sit quietly with your back against a tree or a rock.
Watch a river flow, the waves move in and out, the rain fall or the reflection in a puddle.
For just a few minutes, immerse yourself in the nature or your everyday, or make an active choice to seek out a river, a forest, a bushwalk or the beach.
12. LIMIT YOUR CHOICES
On average, we make 35,000 decisions each day and, when you’re navigating a relationship transition, there’s a whole lot more, both big and small that demand your attention.
Having to make the same decision fresh each day can be exhausting.
Free yourself from the small, every day decisions so you can focus on the bigger ones.
Give yourself some love by making your life easy. Limit the number of decisions you need to make in a day or week.
Plan your breakfasts or your outfits for the week, giving yourself the gift of an extra 5 minutes each morning where you don’t have to make a decision.
It’s already made!
13. DANCE IT OUT
Put on your favourite tunes and move your body.
If you can’t think of a song, cast your memory back to a teenage you, and pick her favourite.
It’s hard to dance and be sad at the same time. Focus on the music, the beat, the rhythm and your own movement and allow it to lift your heart.
14. SELF SOOTHE
Touch is one of the most powerful yet simple ways we show love. Why not show it to yourself?
Give yourself the gift of your own healing, loving touch.
Massage your own hands or feet. Give yourself a mini facial and massage your along your eyebrows and your temples. Massage your scalp while you wash your hair. Mindfully moisturise your body with your favourite cream.
15. TREAT YOUR BODY
Honour your body. Recognise all it does for you every day.
Wear something beautiful close to your skin that makes you feel amazing.
A scarf. Some lingerie. Some perfume. Your favourite cotton t-shirt or silk blouse. A free flowing dress you love.
And if you don’t have anything, consider treating yourself.
Self-care, self-compassion and self-love are never more important than during times of high stress such as when you’re going through a significant life change like separation or divorce.
Self-care doesn’t have to be lavish or cost hundreds of dollars. Some simple and small acts can have a huge impact on your nervous system providing you with more physical and emotional energy, a clearer mind and a more settled and connected heart.
Look out for the second instalment in this series – coming soon.
In the meantime, how will YOU show yourself some love and care?