So the big D is bad for your health!
You probably could have guessed that already, from the way you’ve felt throughout your separation, but a study by the University of Texas has now confirmed it, finding that the risk of heart disease is much higher for women post-divorce. Other studies (also in the U.S.) have shown that divorced men are ten times more likely to need psychiatric care than theirno n-divorced counterparts and that divorce can reduce life expectancy by as much as 3 years.
Of course, staying in a very unhappy marriage is also likely to be bad for your health, but you might not notice it as the pain is not as intense.
So here’s some really common sense advice for you. You know all this stuff, but we’re just going to remind you anyway, because sooner or later you might find you get walloped over the head by the big divorce stick.
Get some good sleep
Sleep problems (too much or too little) and depression go hand in hand. At least 80% of depressed people experience insomnia or find that they can sleep all day. New findings from sleep researcher Michael Perlis PhD suggests that insomnia may even unleash depression. Given that your emotions are taking a bit of a pounding as it is right now, try as hard as you can not to tip them over the edge, by ensuring that you get into a good sleep routine. Go to bed and get up at regular times, do not drink before going to sleep and if you are finding you have trouble getting to sleep, get up and do something relaxing.
Have some fun
Humour and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, dampen pain and reduce tension. After a good laugh, your muscles relax for up to 45 minutes and you produce endorphins – your body’s natural chemical high. Whilst divorce isn’t exactly conducive to having a laugh riot, try and seek out experiences that will make you laugh or at least temporarily take your mind away from negative feelings. Buy a DVD of a decent stand-up comedian or go and see one live, have a really silly night out with friends, reminisce over a favourite funny episode with a friend or family, hang out with someone who makes you laugh, spend a day at a theme park, anything to get a big cheesy grin on your face.
Do some exercise
We’re not saying start a new body building regime here, but keep active. Just a half hour walk a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Perhaps more to the point, walking has been shown to lift the mood and increase happiness. So seek out those green spots and walk in them!
Eat some good stuff
Sourcing the best organic, locally farmed seasonal produce might be second nature to you, or it might just be too expensive and bottom of your priority list right now. Fair enough! But equally, don’t give up on fresh food and cooking, just because you’ve lost the drive to do much for yourself and you’re feeling lacklustre. Getting some simple meat, fish, veg, fruit and bread/rice/pasta inside you is important when you’re under stress. Your body needs good fuel and it will pay you back by making you feel more positive and improve your energy levels.
You know how to look after yourself. Try and do it… you need it more than ever at the moment.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 7 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.