While the number of couples divorcing in the UK appears to be in decline according to The Office of National Statistics, it’s effects on our health can still wreak havoc. So what are the main things to look out for and how can you mitigate against them.
Lack of sleep at any time in your life can have a big impact on your mood, your relationships and your health. Planning a new family routine is often very stressful and being the sole carer for children and financial struggles can play on your mind.
Experts describe this as "secondary insomnia" because it revolves around a specific life event or stress within it. It’s wise to be cautious too as it can turn into a long-term problem if not properly addressed. If you experience insomnia this blog has some great tips to help but it’s always worth talking to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Weakened Immune System
Stress is one of the main issues in a divorce, and it has a big impact on your health. The immune system is compromised when we are under stress so you are more prone to get sick or injured. Make sure you look after yourself by getting enough exercise, good nutrition and sleep to keep your immune system healthy. A supplement like this Immunity Support can really help. It provides the super-fruits blueberry, pomegranate, amla, and açai as part of a three tier system featuring clinically studied nutrients and botanicals that support immune health, and has antioxidants to fight free radicals (free radicals cause disease and ageing). It also contains Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Selenium and Milk Thistle to support the liver.
I’ve found that whether it’s overeating, undereating, exercising themselves into exhaustion or merely telling themselves they are fat or ugly when they look in the mirror, women, in particular, tend to take situations out on their physical bodies. Women have often tortured themselves to be what they thought the man in their relationship wanted them to be and divorce can feel like a double betrayal.
Grief is a powerful emotion and I’m certain that many people go through the grieving process when they go through divorce. Depression can cause substantial weight gain or weight loss, especially in people who are going through divorce or are acclimatising to being newly divorced.
It’s often a time of great sadness and people can feel little or low self-worth. Turning to food to get through the tough times is often an emotional crutch that many people use and this can have lifelong consequences. Seeing food as your friend and indulging in late night snacking or making unhealthy choices on a daily basis will eventually catch up with you. Breaking the cycle of over eating or binging on the wrong food can be a long slow process, especially if done alone, but working with a coach can really help. I work with clients nationwide to support them in weight loss, weight management and weight gain. If you feel that you need some help please reach out to me, I’d love to support you.
Loss of Fitness Goals
It can be hard to stay motivated when you’re under stress and a lot of people either stop exercising or backslide in their fitness goals because they're so consumed with the divorce. If you do manage to drag yourself to the gym or to a class it can be quite normal to feel exhausted and listless during your workout or in class. You may feel you are so tired and stressed from the divorce that you just can't get your body to cooperate, and what would normally be an easy workout turns into a challenge. Know that this is normal and work to maintain your fitness so that long term you are energised. Exercising releases endorphins, the happy hormones, so if the gym is a step too far just getting out and taking a brisk walk can really support your overall health.
A major life event, like divorce, can lead to increased stress and risk for depression according to The National Institute of Mental Health. Women can be more susceptible to mood disorders due to hormonal factors that can influence the brain chemicals that regulate mood. If you’re feeling tired all the time it’s worth getting checked out by a doctor as the stress of divorce can affect the adrenal glands leading to adrenal fatigue.
Helping to alleviate mood disorders is another good reason to keep your exercise up and eat a healthy diet rich in foods filled with mood bosting dopamine. Here’s one of my favourite recipes which even your kids will love.
Divorce can be heart breaking in more ways than one. Research shows that divorce ups your risk of heart disease by 20 percent. What's more, while the risk escalates for both parties, researchers at the University of Utah say that "in our data, it's clear that the association of stress and heart health is stronger in women."
As difficult and painful as divorce can be, it doesn't have to damage your health. Incorporating a daily mindfulness practice, yoga, meditation and writing down a daily gratitude list can really help. Another tip that experts suggest is where possible to “dump any friends or relatives who aren't 100 percent supportive or they will suck your energy from you." It may sound harsh but if your Sister in Law has always been a pain in the ass now is perhaps the time to distance yourself and rekindle nurturing friendships which support you.
For a more holistic approach to divorce visit the Alternative Divorce Directory and pick up this free How to Divorce infographic.