Divorcing people very often find that the death of a marriage is a heroic struggle to “stay sane, healthy and hopeful” because the marital breakup assaults the body, the mind and the soul. Few life traumas effect such profound pain and suffering as a divorce, which can be made worse by neglecting health and physical well-being.
People enduring a divorce must take care of themselves each and every day throughout the experience. They must exercise, eat well, get plenty of rest, avoid heavy drinking and sleeping aids, and resist the urge to get involved with anyone else. Staying healthy physically gives a divorcee the stamina to face the emotional side of divorce, not avoid it. Pain in any manifestation — physical, mental, or emotional– must be met head on and dealt with. And that begins with self-care.
The first step to getting through the day is just that — exercise. In sickness and health, walking is probably one of the best forms of exercise, but any type of exercise counts — dancing, swimming, yoga.
A divorce drains physical, mental and emotion energy, so the body needs additional sleep — a good 8-10 hours per night. Deep sleep is the time the body can repair itself, and it is the best time for healthy cells to grow. Exercise will help your body rest and a good night sleep will come much easier.
Stress and sadness can give a diet a knock-put punch. Some people stop eating, and others cannot stop eating — with predictable results in either direction. Three square meals a day that combine protein, fat and carbohydrates help keep blood sugar stable.
The health consequences of social isolation cannot be neglected. When people breakup, friends they had a couple tend to fall to the side, which isolates the divorcing partners. Family, friends, co-workers, helping professionals — people who convey a positive impact — are more important than ever.
Poor self care — which is far more common among divorced men than married couples — can have long-term health consequences. According to Mark Hayward, a sociology professor and director of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas–Austin, the stress of divorce can accelerate the biological processes that lead to cardiovascular disease. Divorced, middle-aged women, he says, are more likely to develop heart disease than non-divorced, middle-aged married women. And a recent study by sociologists at the University of Chicago showed that divorced or widowed individuals are 20 percent more likely than married people who have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
The failure of a marriage demands clear-headed decisions because a clear-headed person is far better equipped to handle conflict and unpleasant behavior.