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Stressful divorce? Try these 10 mindfulness techniques

The writer of this article may not have medical or scientific training. Any information related to physical or emotional health is not intended to be used in place of a consultation with a physician.

Once you’ve decided to divorce, there are many steps that need to be taken: papers to sign, assets to divide, attorneys and financial planners to consult. However, it is important to remember as the dust settles and things get sorted out that you need to take care of yourself. Practicing exercises and adopting habits that promote self-care and mindfulness can help.

Mindfulness describes the practice of putting yourself first and making time to reflect and focus on your priorities. Whether it’s focusing on a mantra when you feel overwhelmed or journaling about your experiences and feelings, mindfulness is a tool that can help you come to terms with what has happened, appreciate what you have and shape your future. These skills are always useful but especially when going through a major disruption in life like divorce.

The awareness of and interest in mindfulness has grown in recent years. In both personal and corporate settings, it is practiced as a way to help focus on the “big picture” when situations become stressful or overwhelming. These tips provide simple, actionable ways you can bring mindfulness into your life. The benefits of focusing on your own well-being and health will help you become and remain mentally and emotionally balanced in the chaos of divorce. Here are ten ways to start your journey to mindfulness.

  1. 1. Become Financially Aware

    Woman getting divorced goes through her accounts online to understand her financial situation

    Finances can be stressful even during the best of times but managing them is especially trying when you’re going through a difficult period. It can be tempting to push the financial discussions aside during divorce, but by addressing the situation head on, you’ll feel much calmer and more in control of your situation. Once you begin to understand how money flows in and out of your life, you can get a better grasp of the budgeting process and start allocating your funds efficiently and effectively. Understanding your financial position will give you peace of mind and more confidence throughout the divorce process.

  2. 2. Start Journaling

    An open journal sits on a table next to a cup of coffee, filled with financial and emotional notes

    Put pen to paper! Journaling allows you to reflect on the emotions you are feeling, identify your goals and establish a plan to achieve them. Your journal can take any form. Filling pages with motivational quotes, making lists of productive things to do each week or just doodling—journaling will help you channel your conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings. Keeping track of your financial state, concerns and goals in a journal can help you be more mindful of your budget. Your journal will serve to remind you of how far you have come. Looking back on previous entries may help you maintain perspective when you’re going through a hardship like divorce and serve as a reminder that you will get through it.

  3. 3. Forgive

    Hands being held in forgiveness

    During a divorce forgiveness may be the last thing you want to think about. But you might find that the act of mindful, intentional forgiveness could help lighten your burden—especially when you forgive yourself. If it’s writing letters to yourself or making a list of what you like about yourself, making your self-forgiveness tangible can help you move past unhealthy guilt and blame as you move positively into the future.

  4. 4. Create a Mantra

    A woman going through divorce places a personal mantra on a sticky note on her bathroom mirror

    A mantra is a word or sound used to help achieve focus during meditation—you can create your own mantra to use whenever you’re feeling down, anxious or stressed. Self-affirming statements like “I am brave, I am strong, I am loved” can be repeated silently or out loud, written down or printed on a t-shirt. Hearing and seeing it over and over will be a constant reminder of your strength and worth.

  5. 5. Just Breathe

    Illustration showing the numbers 4, 7 and 8 to represent a popular breathing technique

    Managing your breathing is a great way to quell anxiety or worries you might have when going through a divorce. Breathing helps focus your mind on one thing—yourself—and helps keep distractions at bay. One of the most popular breathing practices is “4-7-8.” Begin by completely exhaling, then inhaling through your nose as you count to four. Hold this breath for seven seconds, then exhale from your mouth for eight seconds. Practice this pattern for four full breaths or until you feel centered.

  6. 6. Make Time to Clear Your Mind

    A woman going through divorce takes time to clear her mind as she sits at her computer

    Whether you’re on the bus, at your desk or about to go to sleep, there’s always an opportunity for you to clear and quiet your mind. Guided meditations can help you relax and unwind no matter your location and are available through a wide variety of apps you can download to your phone. Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer are apps that will help you start practicing meditation and get the most out of your time in reflection.

  7. 7. Try Aromatherapy

    Aromatherapy plants and dropper bottles in an illustration stressing mindfulness technique

    Stop and smell the roses—literally and figuratively. Take time to appreciate the beauty around you and indulge in natural, soothing scents that will calm you through aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is an easy and convenient way to practice mindfulness. Find your favorite scent—lavender, mandarin, bergamot, etc.—and enjoy it when you need it. Aromatherapy sticks and oils are easy to throw in your bag. When you feel yourself getting stressed, roll lavender on your temples or wrists to help put yourself at ease.

  8. 8. Take a Break from Your Phone

    A woman living in the moment with her daughter, taking a break from cell phone and divorce thoughts

    Put your phone away when out with friends or family. If you can’t resist the urge to take pictures, put your phone on airplane mode and post your pictures later. This will help you to be more “in the moment” giving you time to reflect on the experience. Take a 30-minute “digital break” each day using apps like Offtime or Moment to set limits on your daily social media time.

  9. 9. Create a Playlist of Your Favorite Songs

    A woman distracts herself from divorce by dancing to a playlist of her favorite songs

    Collect and organize your favorite songs into playlists to suit your mood. Download them to your phone, play them in the car, blast them on the speakers in your house—the music you play will boost your mood wherever are. Ask your friends for their favorite songs to add to your list and play them at dinner parties and get-togethers. These songs will become the soundtrack to your life.

  10. 10. Focus on What Makes You Happy

    A woman who is dealing with divorce focuses on what makes her happy--hiking

    Think about the things that make you happiest: spending time with your family, being outdoors, cooking or crafting. Focusing on your favorite things will help you become a more fulfilled, well-rounded and happier individual. Pursuing your passions could help you discover new experiences or friendships you weren’t open to before. Explore new hobbies that interest you—sign up for a class at your local art center, take a course at a community college, or check out the bulletin board at your local bookstore. You never know what might catch your eye.

We do not endorse nor are affiliated with the apps in this article but are providing them merely as examples. We are not responsible for the information or services they provide.

This article provides general information, including examples, that may be helpful in understanding financial and other issues relating to divorce. The TIAA group of companies does not provide tax or legal advice. We urge you to seek such advice based on your own particular circumstances from a legal or tax advisor to determine if the information in this article is appropriate for you. Please note laws vary by state.