Going through a separation is never going to be a walk in the park, but sadly, with everyone in the process of trying to sort everything out while keeping the kids as sheltered as possible during this time, we often forgo out own mental health in the progress.
The thing is, if we are not taking care of ourselves, how can we possibly expect to be our best for the other people who rely on us? I like to use the plane analogy of “always fit your mask first before helping others”. In the instance of using oxygen when needed in an aeroplane, it is common sense, as if you pass out you can’t help anyone else. But this logic makes sense in a lot of other aspects of our lives too.
So while I am not saying that my suggestions below are going to make all of your problems go away, they can help reduce the stress and anxiety and hopefully help get your mental health back on track after separation.
Here are a few simple suggestions that may help if you’re feeling a bit more stressed or anxious than usual.
Try some Meditation.
Being a meditation and mindfulness instructor, of course I’m going to recommend this and if you haven’t tried meditation before, now’s the time. Why? Because it’s something that you can do by yourself anywhere and anytime and all you need is 10-20 minutes to get the benefits.
I originally became interested in meditation as a means to improve my productivity at work and I found it to be very beneficial. However it wasn’t until I went through a 10-year relationship break up, two family members were diagnosed with cancer and there were some financial issues with one of my investments, all in the period of 3- months that I started to really need it and be grateful that I had the practise in my life.
Recent research published this year has found that mindfulness exercises, such as meditation may reduce anxiety, depression and stress making it a gold mine for your mental health. Given the year that has passed, incidences of mental health problems have doubled, meditation may be just want we need to get ourselves back on track again.
Spend time in nature.
Being in nature is so good for your mental health. There are even terms for it now such as forest bathing if you are out amongst the trees. Also, being by running water produces negative ions with believe it or not, make you happy!
Try to get outside, or better still in nature as much as you can. Even if you only have time to go for a walk near where you live.
When I am stressed I often challenge myself to find 5 things I haven’t noticed before. I find that it is a great exercise to help you appreciate the world around you.
There’s still so much to be grateful for.
While you may not feel like it, practicing gratitude in times like this can really be helpful because it pulls the brain out of worry & anxiety and forces it to think of something that is good and present, right here, right now. Think about the people who are supportive around you, the fact that we now have the ability to be informed almost in real-time of how we deal with serious issues like the one we are facing right now. These are all blessings and reminding yourself of them right now will help.
Find Time to do the things you love
Why is it that when we are stressed, busy or something goes wrong, it’s always the things that make us happy that we stop doing? Make sure you make time to do at least one thing you enjoy. If it can’t happen everyday, aim for every week. When we are going through a hard time, it is always good to have something to look forward to. Whether it is exercise, which is something I recommend everyone do as much as possible, dancing, seeing your friends, watching your favourite show, make it happen. Everyone is going to have challenges in their life, but remember life is for living and try your best to get your head back up as soon as you can.
Luke McLeod is a meditation and mindfulness instructor and the founder of Soul Alive.