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5 Tips for Fixing a Hot Mess: Life After Divorce


Divorce can feel like a hot mess. You look polished and put-together on the outside, but feel like you’re crumbling on the inside. So what can you do to get back to good after a breakup? These five tips will get you several steps closer to the proverbial other side of your divorce.

Avoid Empathic Overload

It’s easy to internalize the feelings of others about your breakup, especially if you have children. Grokking what others are going through can be helpful in understanding them. It’s also draining and exhausting to the max, sowing the seeds of anxiety and reducing your confidence and competence. Find ways to flex your emotional muscles through resilience. Harness your inner strength to protect your energy and avoid overloading on others’ emotions.

Practice Creative Self-Care

Accurately naming your pain on paper or in the notes section of your phone can be cathartic. So can singing out loud to favorite music while dancing in your living room or filling in an adult coloring book. Don’t try to avoid your feelings. Invite them in. It’s the first step on the road to letting them go.

Know That the Present is All You Have

“The present is all I have.” Try using this phrase to detach from inner dramas if you find yourself continually going down the rabbit hole of pain and drama. Your physical symptoms--nausea, headaches, back pain--could actually be due to emotional pain. So try to decode your body’s messages as a way to live fully in the present. Don’t wait for things to be better tomorrow. Walk outside. Do yoga. Go for a run. Stretch. These activities can alleviate physical and psychic pain, making the present moment more tolerable--and perhaps even wonderful. Taking control of your body allows you to regain control over your life.

Mind Your Budget

You might crave an image change--in the form of a haircut or new wardrobe--as a way to transition to your new post-divorce life. But don’t drown your sorrows in retail therapy. When you feel tempted to overspend, note your body’s zones of pressure: the head to throat, shoulders to chest and mid-back, and low-back to belly. The body doesn’t lie. Know that hurt, sadness, anger, and fear may affect how these areas of the body feel. So before you break out the credit card, hit the pause button. Take care of your body and mind instead. Your future bank account will thank you.

Pay Attention to Self-Talk

Everything circles back to love. We are who we come home to. The way we talk to ourselves, especially after interactions with provocative people, can be instructive. Replacing “I can't,” the stance of the victim, with “I won't” turns us into someone who takes action. Not conflating talking with doing is also instructive. Remind yourself that you have the power to author your own life. Replace defeating self messages with empowering ones. Slow down your thoughts enough to notice these negative thoughts and harness the power of more powerful messages. All you have to do is keep going. Don’t give up.

Go to this page about online divorce to learn more.