How to manage your energy in divorce
‘Energy?’, you ask, ‘In divorce? – But I don’t have any!’
Divorce is a life event that can sap your energy, leave you hanging on by your fingertips and crush your soul.
It doesn’t have to, but it can.
I generally try to keep my articles upbeat with a generous sprinkling of reality (relentlessly cheerful self-help articles put my pancreas on sugar overload). I definitely don’t want to do articles like misery memoirs!
But divorce is, it has to be said, gruelling. Let’s take a quick look at why, then I’ll give you some pointers for maintaining your energy, no matter what.
Divorce drains you of energy because:
- You are clearly dealing with a massive life change. This wasn’t what you expected and you have to re-write your life story. That takes energy.
- The divorce process itself is all new stuff. You are trying to understand the language the lawyers use, the court process and the essentials of divorce law. Especially if you are a person used to being in control in the rest of your life it is a big shock to be a the wrong end of the learning curve on divorce and to be so dependent on other people’s input. So accumulating the knowledge you think you need and staying on top of it takes energy.
- You might be using the ‘f’ word – failure. Whether you use this word or not, somebody else will. And as you pick up on that energy an element of ‘that which has not succeeded’ drags you down and saps your energy.
- You are hurt. Or sad/devastated/angry/outraged – supply your own adjective. However these strong emotions affect you, you are likely to be feeling more than a bit peeved. This emotional turmoil takes energy.
- Your self-care is at a low ebb. You are crying all night instead of sleeping. Junk food is your staple diet because it’s quick and easy. Exercise is pouring a glass of wine. Poor diet and lack of exercise don’t help your mood and leave you feeling physically drained.
So no wonder you feel tired!
It’s normal to feel dire in parts of the divorce process. You are not a lesser being if you are tired, cranky, snappy, sleepy or tearful. Yes, I know, I missed Grumpy and Sneezy, but you could be those too.
So here is how you can manage the tiredness and the energy-sapping fatigue of divorce.
- Recognise when you are tired and distinguish that from being hungry, thirsty or needing a change of task. This will help you identify the right remedy for your need. Otherwise you get into a habit of interpreting every bad feeling as tiredness (so you sleep all the time) or hunger (so you eat all the time) or anger (so you throw things all the time…you get the picture).
- Make allowance for mega-energy sapping events e.g. going to court or talking to your ex. You CAN learn to deal with these events differently – some of my coaching focuses on building up a skill set to have different conversations with the ex – but you may also have to build in some extra energy management measures. If you know you will get a post-court migraine attack plan to have that in your schedule in advance.
- Get a support circle around you. This could be friends you can talk to, people who will pick the kids up from school or babysit, divorce survivors who can recognise your angst and colleagues who will cover for you if you need to be absent from work. Cherish these people, say thank you and be grateful. But use that support.
- Keep an eye on what you eat and drink. You may not have the energy to cook meals from scratch but ripping the top off a ready-made salad doesn’t take a lot of effort or skill. Eat a variety of foods, do your best, accept that this won’t be the most nutritious phase of your life but do look after yourself.
- Don’t dismiss small comforts and pleasures. A hot water bottle in an otherwise empty bed, a candle lit for dinner, a movie night with the kids (all of you on the sofa, hired DVD and a bag of pop-corn…perfect!).
Be kind to yourself – you may have to lower expectations of how organised you can be, how tidy your house can be, as the main goal is to get your energy focused on the most strategic divorce you can manage.
I offer support on communicating with the ex and managing the energy-sapping decision making process throughout divorce. Get in touch if you want to know more.