Being mindful can help you through your divorce. Dr Isabelle Hung explains how…
Divorce is painful – there’s no escaping this.
The good news is that there are proven ways to help you get through some of these difficult emotions using basic mindfulness (or meditation) techniques.
What is mindfulness?
In a nutshell, mindfulness means being in the moment.
Mindfulness is not just for hippies and monks…everyone has been mindful in their past, whether it’s because they became totally absorbed watching their new-born child, a fire or an extremely beautiful sunset.
So this is not a new skill, it is something you’ve already experienced, and it can be helpful to rely on in tough times.
Does mindfulness actually work?
Research shows that people are happier and less anxious when they are in the moment. Mindfulness is even used in the NHS in the UK to support people through health conditions such as chronic pain or breathing difficulties.
A recent experiment by Dr Killingsworth involving 15,000 people, proved that people who practiced mindfulness and so focused on the present happier than those in the same situation who imagined being somewhere else. This applied to situations like being on a packed bus in rush hour. That’s right; people concentrating on the present were even happier than those picturing themselves on a tropical beach resort.
How to be mindful
Focusing on the moment means really concentrating on what is going on within and around you.
Two steps to being mindful right now
1. Notice what’s around you, using each of your five senses – Notice the colour of someone’s shirt, the sensation of the pillow under your head, the ground under your feet, what you can smell and what you can hear.
2. Notice your mood and accept it in the moment – Notice your emotions and then accept them in a non-judgemental manner. Anger, sadness, regret: these are all just emotions that will eventually pass.
If you’re finding it tricky to stay in the moment, focus on your breathing and really concentrate on the sensation of taking a deep breath in, and a deep breath out.
Why might mindfulness be hard?
When you first try mindfulness as a technique, you might notice difficult thoughts keep popping back into your head to distract you. These thoughts might be about your divorce, your fears or all the tasks you have to do that day.
You might feel powerless as these thoughts keep returning, despite your best efforts to focus on something pleasant.
This is completely normal and you will get better with practice. So if that unpleasant thought does come into your head, just remember to accept it, observe it and know that it will pass.
Top suggestions for mindfulness training
Why not try…?
- Mindful walking
- Mindful eating
- Mindful shower/bathing
- Mindful dishwashing
When things are tough it can be helpful to think about your day as a series of moments.
Even if you are having a bad moment, don’t struggle with it. Instead, remember that this difficult moment will pass. Also remember that good moments will come and then bring your attention back to the present, and breathe.
Here are some great websites and apps for you to try:
Good luck – and please do let us know your experience of mindfulness for getting through the tough times in divorce or separation (or add anything else that might help others).
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.