Divorce sucks. It doesn’t matter whether you instigated or not. It sucks. It’s one of the most stressful scenarios a person can go through and in many ways, shares much with the death of a loved one.
It also throws up many other challenges including dealing with uncertainty, loss of control, loss of approval and very often conflict. Throw in a house-move and you have a recipe for acute stress becoming chronic stress given the timescales involved.
Here are six warning signs that you may be feeling the adverse effects of this stress. These are based on my own experience and those of many of my clients.
An infestation of ANTs
These are Automatic Negative Thoughts. Even if divorce is what you wanted, there will be a million things going through your mind and it’s natural that many of these will be negative. Left un-checked these can and do play a major role in the following five signs. The trick is to turn your ANTs into PETs, Positive Enabling Thoughts. What are your most common ANTs?
Sleep is a weapon, it can be used for your benefit or against you, by a lack of it. I remember becoming very well acquainted with the ceiling of my bedroom and then the spare room. Not to mention some point of almost every hour during the night for months.
This is often the first thing to suffer and plays a significant part in the next four signs.
One of the first by-products of a lack of sleep is a shorter-fuse. It’s natural. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted.
The combination of the first three usually lead to this. In terms of your divorce that can sometime means adopting an adversarial approach to it, leading to greater stress, bigger legal bills and more emotional turmoil for any children that maybe involved.
It also influences the everyday, from work and parenting decisions to what to eat and spending habits. From this position, poor habits can form and become ingrained, having a longer term negative effect.
Working memory loss
The effect of the previous four signs is to curb your working memory, the ability to think and hold thoughts in your short to medium term memory.
This impacts work and home life by making you less effective and more irritable with yourself and others. It happens because we only have so much ‘bandwidth’ at any one time and if you use that up on ANTS, exacerbated by lack of sleep, the result is reduced memory.
The culmination of all the above often leads to a lack of motivation, often to do things that in the past you normally love doing and certainly with the mundane. If you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family, and staying in bed longer then it’s time to get some support.
Divorce can be overwhelming and can often lead to people making six common mistakes which I’ll cover another post. A divorce coach can help you face divorce with courage, dignity and your values intact, moving away from overwhelm to being confident and in control.