Separation, Divorce, and Caring For Your Mental Health

Going through a separation or divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences you may go through. Your neat and tidy world is suddenly turned upside down, inside and shaken up! And, it can affect every single area of your life. You may find yourself questioning everything else about your life, and you may feel unstable. According to Mental Health America, there are several ways to cope with the difficult feelings that may arise from a separation or divorce:

Know That it is Okay to Feel Whatever You Are Feeling

There is no feeling that is wrong or uncommon when you are going through a separation or divorce. Fear, anxiety, elation, sadness, relief, guilt, exhaustion, and confusion are all some very common feelings. Even those who are separated from a toxic or abusive spouse may have feelings of sadness because they are leaving a familiar situation and likely going to an unfamiliar situation.

Take Care of Your Physical and Emotional Health

Make sure you are getting plenty of exercise, sleep, staying hydrated, and eating healthy foods. It can be easy to give in to the urge to eat a lot of junk food or fast food when in a stressful situation. Also make sure that you do not use substances to numb your feelings. Try to let your feelings come and go and accept them as part of your journey toward healing (cry, scream, laugh, repeat!).

Avoid Making Other Major Decisions

If it is possible, during this time, it is important to resist adding any more additional stress into your life. Your view of other issues in your life may be clouded by what you are dealing with during the period of separation and divorce.

Resist the Temptation to Isolate Yourself

It can be easy to stay in your house and avoid interacting with other people. Make the effort to connect and share with family and friends who are loving and supportive of you. They can be invaluable during a time such as this. Sometimes when you have a depressed move, the last thing you want to do is see people. However, having connection with people is actually one way to lift that heavy mood and help you restore some balance in your life.

Be Gentle on Yourself

Give yourself permission to slow down and relax. Accept the fact that you may not be as focused at work or in doing chores around the house. Be forgiving of yourself and remind yourself that things will get better in time. Using calming and reassuring self-talk may help, such as, “this too, shall pass”, “I am going to be ok.”

Avoid Arguing With Your Spouse or Former Spouse

If a conversation turns into a power struggle or argument, be the one who suggests talking at a later time when you are both calmer. Or even try to communicate via email or text to keep your words focused on facts and decision making.

Think Positive And Relish Your Independence

Keep reminding yourself that your life has changed but that doesn’t mean it cannot still be a great life. Make a list of things you have always wanted to do and start doing them! Join a photography class, learn a new language, or go back to school. The possibilities are endless and you may find that you have a different outlook on life and how quickly it can pass us all by!


Going through a separation and divorce can be traumatic. It is definitely life-changing. Just realize that your life will return to normal once again. “Normal” may look different than it previously did. If you need help coping along the way, do not hesitate to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. Counseling is a great way to get support, have a non-judgmental person to talk to and get some help on decision making and next steps.

Please reach out to Lifeologie Counseling Durham for support from our specialists, Jordan Gale, LMFTA or Kaitlin Duren, LCMHCA, who are accepting new client appointments at this time! Not in North Carolina? Find a Lifeologie therapist near you


About Kaitlin Duren

Kaitlin Duren, LCMHCA, earned her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from North Carolina State University. She is particularly interested in working with young adults and LGBTQ+ individuals. She has previous experience working with clients around self-image, depression, anxiety, career/academic stress, life transitions, relationship issues, substance use, gender and sexuality, and identity formation. She uses a Cognitive-Behavioral framework and a strength-based approach to inform her practice. She works with the supervision of Elizabeth Grady, LCMHCS and sees individuals at Lifeologie Counseling Raleigh.

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