Divorce is often regarded as being one of the most stressful life experiences one can encounter, along with bereavement, job loss and serious personal illness. It’s unsurprising to learn that the end of a marriage can come with a whole host of mental and physical health implications. If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, these are just a few of the health issues they could experience, along with advice on the best ways to deal with them.
During a divorce many people become fearful and anxious about their future, not to mention distressed at the breakdown of such a significant relationship. When our body encounters threat or begin to feel as if control is slipping away, we emit increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Over a period of time, chronic stress and excess levels of cortisol can wreak havoc on the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, heart disease, headaches, weakened immunity and depression are just a few of the health problems you could encounter if you let stress take over your life. As divorce is often a lengthy process – particularly if mediation is involved – it is important to undertake stress management techniques in order to control it. Exercise, healthy eating and therapy are just a few ways to help control the stressors in your life.
Eating and digestive troubles
During difficult times we often change our eating habits and it’s not uncommon for those going through divorce to experience significant weight changes. Some will seek comfort in sugary snacks or carb-loaded meals because it will temporarily cheer them up. Others lose their appetite altogether as the prospect of cooking and enjoying a healthy meal by themselves seems unfathomable. Drastic weight change either way can cause strain on the body and is inadvisable. You may also notice issues with your digestion; Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS) is a non-specific gut condition which the ADAA links closely with feelings of stress and anxiety. Even if you don’t feel like it, it’s important to try and maintain a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains – not only will this leave you feeling stronger physically but it can also help improve your mood.
In the aftermath of a divorce many people experience trouble sleeping. The absence of their partner next to them and the worry and uncertainty of the future following a split can leave them tossing, turning and missing out on valuable sleep. This can be a vicious cycle that worsens the health issues you might already be experiencing during the day – such as stress. Lack of sleep can also weaken your immunity making you more susceptible to bugs and germs. Try to exercise – but not too close to bedtime – and ban all technology from the bedroom if you want to nod off easily.
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