5 Health Impacts of Divorce
The reasons why a marriage dissolves can sometimes include the fact that the couple was no longer happy together, and in fact, their relationship had become toxic. Unhappy marriages can lead to unhealthy lifestyles and choices. However, when a couple decides to divorce, there can be other physical and psychological health impacts that arise from the dissolution of the marriage. Sometimes, these adverse health effects can be treated, but it’s a good idea to understand what to look for as someone is going through a divorce.
Here are five health impacts of divorce that you should be aware of and work toward preventing.
- Excessive or Chronic Stress
Divorces are stressful, and there is no way around that. However, there are certain things that you need to watch out for to ensure that the stress is not getting out of control. Chronic stress can lead to an increased risk for many other harmful health conditions such as heart disease, anxiety, depression, weight gain, serious digestive issues, and overall malaise. When someone is suffering from an excessive amount of bad stress, his or her overall health can decline rather quickly, so it’s essential to combat the stress as soon as you can.
De-stress tip: Even though you may not feel like it while you are going through your divorce, it’s important to keep self-care at the top of your priority list. Self-care could be as simple as taking time once a week to do something that makes you feel good. Make sure you are attending to your needs and wants. It won’t make the process go any faster if you are just always stressed, so give yourself regular permission to continue to do things that help you to relax.
Depression can evolve from the chronic stress you are experiencing as a result of the divorce if you are not staying very intune with the way that you are feeling. Separation can mean a significant life change for most people, as they shift into a way of life that does not involve their spouse, and often involves less of their children. It’s normal to feel sad about the loss of the life you once had but pay attention to the warning signs of depression and how you are dealing with stress and sadness. If you have been consistently feeling blue for more than two weeks in a row, it may be time to talk to a doctor about how your sadness is affecting your overall mood. There is no shame in getting help to try and mitigate the adverse effects of depression.
Mood lifting tip: It can be hard to find happy moments throughout your divorce process but try and make the best of the good moments you do have. If you have kids, maybe this is an excellent time to try something fun for the first time or take them to that restaurant you always drive by instead of just through the drive-through for dinner. If you don’t have kids, use some of your free time to reconnect with good friends, or invite a new friend to grab drinks or dinner. Engage in activities that take your mind off of the divorce process you are experiencing.
- Sleep Problems
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of overall good health. When you are stressed out or depressed, it’s easy to lose sleep. The problem arises when you start to lose sleep regularly, as sleep deprivation can be a slippery slope. One sleepless night can turn into another and another, and before you know it, you’re a walking zombie. Loss of sleep can affect everything from your waistline to your heart health and can cause conditions like anxiety and depression. Since many of these conditions are linked to each other, it’s important that you address the issue of a lack of sleep as soon as you notice the problem.
Sleep better tonight tip: Some swear by meditation and sleep aid apps on your phone. If you are having difficulty sleeping because your racing thoughts about your divorce are never-ending, you may want to consider meditation before bed. There are apps or videos online that can walk you through guided meditations that are explicitly geared to helping you sleep. Sound machines may also be a good way to help you drown out your thoughts by listening to the calming ocean waves before you sleep, even if you are miles from the nearest beach.
- Weight Gain
There’s no doubt that the above-mentioned health problems can also contribute to weight gain, which is another negative health impact of divorce. When someone is going through a significant lifestyle change like a divorce, it can mean that eating habits also change. It may be that you are no longer eating at home as much or taking refuge in comfort foods to help lift your spirits. If you went from being in a marriage to being a single parent most of the time, you might find that you don’t have as much time to work out or exercise on your own as you used to. When your eating habits and your workout schedule changes, you may be at risk for weight gain and the problems associated with that, such as an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and mobility issues.
Get back on track tip: If you find that you are at a loss for time to exercise as you are going through your divorce, start by incorporating small workouts in throughout the day. Instead of park by the entrance to the store, park farther out to give yourself a walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and drop down to do a one-minute plank each time you leave your desk for something. These are all ways that you can start to get your body moving and think about being active again.
- Alcohol Abuse
Divorce indeed provides a prime opportunity for someone to start abusing alcohol. Perhaps you aren’t at home with the kids every night now, and instead, find company in a neighborhood bar. Maybe you are spending more time with single friends and attending networking happy hours. All of these activities can be good in small doses, but keep an eye on the amount of alcohol you are actually consuming. Alcohol abuse can have many health impacts such as liver cirrhosis and mental impairment, as well as contribute to weight gain, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. There is nothing wrong with being more social as you are going through your divorce, but don’t allow your drinking to get out of hand in ways that will negatively impact your overall health and well-being.
Socialize sober tip: Instead of inviting friends to join you at the bar, switch up your activities and ask friends to meet for a Sunday morning yoga class and juice bar or take a walk to get coffee. Both of these activities can be done without alcohol and still allow you to catch up with friends and be social. As a bonus, by asking your friends to do active social activities, you are also giving yourself time to exercise instead of consuming empty calories, which is better for overall health.
Divorces can be incredibly painful and can cause many different physical or psychological effects. The best thing you can do is to be on top of any of these types of adverse health impacts.
If you are going through a divorce or separation, you should contact an experienced family law attorney to be on your side throughout the whole process. One way to take some of the stress off of your back is to have an attorney who you can trust and who will help you through the legal part of the separation.
The Disturbing Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Health. (2019, January 23). Retrieved from https://dadsdivorce.com/articles/the-disturbing-ways-divorce-can-impact-your-health/