A separation or divorce can be a tough time for those involved. It can often have effects similar to the death of a close relative or dear friend. It is natural to feel grief and sadness for a period of time following a separation, as there has certainly been a loss of a part of your life, and it will take some time to readjust.
As well as having to cope with the emotional side of a separation, there are also practical issues to deal with. These can include organising new homes for the people involved, deciding on custody issues if there are young children in the family, and splitting up finances. These tasks in themselves can be emotionally trying.
Despite its difficulty, divorce and separation are very common. Our team at Psychology Melbourne are highly experienced in mediating divorce and assisting people through the difficulties and practicalities of the separation.
Common feelings and reactions
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Problems sleeping, or having nightmares
- Tiredness from stress or over-work or in some cases not being able to function at work
- Inability to think clearly
- Decreased concentration, often leading to becoming prone to accidents
- Mood swings
- Rage and anger
- Feeling lonely
- Fear of changes that may occur
- Feelings of hopelessness and inability to cope
Please be aware that all of these reactions are a normal grief response, and are all relative to the changes that are occurring. It is important not to repress these feelings, but also understand when you need help and support.
Strategies to help manage divorce or separation
- Recognise that it’s OK to feel the emotions that you’re experiencing, and don’t try to block them out or ignore them
- Maintain self-care strategies, such as a good diet, social activities, soothing exercises (such as movies and reading), and adequate sleep
- Attempt to maintain a routine, and prioritise things that are necessary
- Reach out to your support network for help; friends, family, and a professional if needed
- Join a separation group
- Practise meditation and relaxation techniques, try journaling
- Let out feelings through exercise
- If it is the separation of your parents or other loved ones, ensure that you look after yourself before others. Remember that it is okay to separate yourself from the situation if it is causing you extreme distress.
Try to avoid:
- Unhelpful coping mechanisms such as self-medication with substances
- Massive changes due to the divorce (particularly when dependents are involved)
- Impulsive or angry behaviours towards your ex-partner
When to seek professional assistance
Psychology Melbourne has a team of highly experienced psychologists who specialise in separation and divorce counselling. If you feel you are unable to cope (extreme sleep of appetite disturbance, feelings of hopelessness, inability to work or study), make an appointment to see one of our psychologists. Psychology Melbourne psychologists can assist with making decisions around separation, dealing with the emotional consequences and adjusting to a new life after separation. We offer both single and paired counselling at Psychology Melbourne to assist with all stages of the separation.