Divorce can take a toll on a family in a way that’s unlike most other life events. Both spouses and children alike may go through the full grieving process. It can take years to fully recover emotionally and financially from the aftershocks, especially following a more contentious battle.

Although divorce is a time when it’s easier to shut down and fall into unhealthy patterns, it’s actually one of the more important times to keep up with and tend to your personal needs.

With all today’s talk about self-care, it can seem like an overblown, self-absorbed concept. However, it’s worth noting that there are forms of self-care that you can, and in fact should, practice to keep yourself levelheaded and healthy enough to get through your divorce proceedings.

Self-care is more than a spa day

When people think of self-care, they often associate it with indulgent rituals and “treating yourself” to something special, like a shopping spree or a pedicure. While these are certainly valid coping mechanisms, the idea of self-care goes much deeper in the context of divorce.

The idea of practicing self-care during a divorce means keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy, organized and level-headed so you can make rational decisions and avoid engaging in regrettable behaviors or conflicts. It means developing healthy coping mechanisms while powering through the most difficult parts of a life-altering legal event.

The following are a few things you can do to practice self-care during your divorce:

  1. Get organized. Have all necessary documentation on hand for easy access throughout the process. That way, if something is requested of you, not only will you save yourself a headache of searching for it, but you’ll speed along the process.
  2. Seek therapy or counseling. Talking to a professional about your emotional and mental health can help you find perspective. This can payoff in the form of an easier negotiating process with your ex-spouse.
  3. Educate yourself on the divorce process. Your attorney will provide much of the guidance you’ll need for legal ramifications, but it’s good to plan ahead and understand what you’ll be up against.
  4. Find something in your life that brings you joy, and embrace it. Maybe it’s a book club, cooking, or learning a new language. The more you begin creating niches of respite for yourself from the challenges of divorce, the more you’ll be open to rebuilding your life once everything settles.
  5. Get exercise. Staying healthy will be a short-term and long-term ally to you during this stressful period.

It’s critical that you acknowledge the challenges to your emotional wellness that a divorce will present. By making a plan of action for how you’ll take care of yourself when the going gets tough, you might find the divorce itself loosens its grip on you a little bit.