Let’s talk about outlets! No, I don’t mean that thing on the wall you plug your phone charger into. An outlet can also be a way to channel energy and emotions in a productive way toward something positive that can deter them from becoming bottled up, then exploding! Outlets may take on many forms, and are healthy for everyone; but, they are especially vital for those of us progressing through the various stages of divorce.
Imagine, if you will, a pressure cooker. In the days before the now popular Instapot, folks used to speed up meal preparation with a cooking apparatus called a pressure cooker. I have memories of my own mother making many foods in this fashion, including the day she was cooking a batch of beans, and the pot exploded all over her and the kitchen! It was terrifying to see boiling hot beans flying to the ceiling and scalding her face!
Through an unforeseen malfunction, the build-up of heat and pressure designed to make meals in minutes became too immense and had no choice but to escape in a frightening hurry! That one experience was enough to scare me away from ever trying this device in my own kitchen!
Pressure might be an essential ingredient for making diamonds, but it is detrimental to our health. When overcome by stress (and let’s face it, who’s not during divorce?), our bodies can react with a number of negative symptoms including: sleeplessness, forgetfulness, poor judgment, decreased energy sex drive and immune function, headaches, muscle soreness, and tension, and increased pessimism and worrisome thoughts. No thank you to all of that!
How different are any of us than that seemingly harmless crockpot? At any time, but especially during a divorce, any of us can begin to experience a continually mounting volume of stress, anxiety, and an array of other emotions. Second-by-second, the pressure begins to mount, becoming tighter, more uncomfortable, and making us more disagreeable.
If we don’t find a way to cope with these negative forces closing in on us, we will literally lose control.
Without somewhere for the fears and frustrations of our situation to escape, they will only become worse. The space in our life for patience, humor, flexibility, or calm is pushed out of the way by more powerful and unpleasant forces. If we don’t find a way to cope with these negative forces closing in on us, we will literally lose control.
Since we don’t come equipped with a pressure valve to release built-up emotional steam, we have to develop our own means to let loose before all the madness gets to us. The good news is that it’s easy to adopt many outlets, and numerous options don’t cost a thing! The key to finding the right outlet for you is to identify activities that result in feeling better after you do them.
Who doesn’t feel better after leaning on a trusted friend and verbally unloading fears and concerns? Even if our loved one simply listens and offers no advice, the sensation of sharing and being heard is tremendously cathartic! Therapy can also be a safe space where you express your emotions and regain your sanity.
Exercise is a proven method to increase endorphins while sweating away one’s troubles. Whether walking, swimming, dancing, or cycling, this outlet comes in many forms and is a nearly magical way to work out frustrations while working out one’s bod!
The arts are unparalleled as a means to process through life experiences and interpret them through anything from painting, dance, sculpture, or writing. I have always enjoyed losing myself in an enjoyable craft project, and often described writing as my “free therapy” because I write what I feel and allow the words to heal me as I let them flow!
At times, if we don’t laugh we’ll cry! Sometimes, just having a good laugh at the craziness of our situation prevents us from becoming too jaded by a period of darkness in our lives. Of course, we do need to be serious at times, but allowing ourselves to find the funny can be a real lifesaver!
Often, when things in our life are going south, we allow care and concern for our own well-being to take a dive, as well. Take comfort in doing some nice things for yourself such as getting a massage, eating a healthy diet, following an exercise program, or even getting a manicure. One guarantee in life is that no matter how many people enter and exit our lives, we will remain our one true constant, and we better show ourselves some love!
Sometimes, the best way to forget about our troubles and let them go is to focus our energy on others who are more in need or give it to a higher power. Volunteering can help us put our own challenges into perspective and give us a sense of purpose when everything else may be spinning out of control. A spiritual life is also a source of solace and comfort to many because it can offer focus and a sense of belonging.
When we’re stressed, it’s all too easy to turn to the wrong things for comfort and relief. How many of us have joked about “retail therapy?” Shopping sure is fun but racking up a bunch of credit card bills will likely create more stress than the joy a new pair of shoes may bring! Some of us have a tendency to turn to other questionable sources of distraction when life becomes rocky. Food, alcohol, drugs, and sex can all make us feel amazing, but they’re temporary solutions that could have long-term consequences!
So, what will you do next time the pressures of life are starting to come to a boil? Many options exist to help banish stress from our lives, and thankfully we can rely on a variety of outlets to ease the tension and help us heal from big life events, such as divorce.
When feeling better can be as easy as belting out some tunes on the commute to work, striking a yoga pose, or journaling your thoughts and feelings, what have you got to lose by letting it all go?
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