How to Emotionally Survive a Divorce

Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Divorce ranks as one of the most stressful experiences you can have during your life. You don't have to let it get the better of you, however. Rather than giving in to feelings of despair, loneliness or futility, change the way you look at the situation. By focusing on positives, the present moment and allowing yourself to move through the pain, you'll not only survive your divorce, but flourish.

Face Your Feelings

Don't attempt to avoid the unavoidable by turning to substance abuse or endless activity, advises psychologist Theresa Wright, Ph.D. in an article on the Girlfriendz website. Sooner or later you will have to grieve the loss of your marriage, so it's better to do so now instead of drawing out the pain. Face the grief head on, knowing that it will not last forever. In doing so, you'll find that you are able to move on faster and be happier.

Focus on the Present

If you want to thrive after a divorce, it's important to immerse yourself in the present and avoid becoming preoccupied with the past, says Wright. Avoid the tendency to ruminate on how your ex-husband managed to deceive you for an entire year before you caught on to his cheating ways, for example. Accept that what happened, happened, and make your peace. Focus on what is happening right now, such as the company of a long-time friend, the pleasant smell of a cinnamon-scented candle burning in the living room and the sound of the birds outside your window. The present is all anyone ever has, and enjoying it will help you to move through the pain of your divorce.

Distract Yourself

If you find yourself unable to get your mind off the final fight that you and your wife had that led you both to seek a divorce, try distracting yourself by making plans to see a movie with a friend, completing a difficult Sudoku puzzle or taking the dog for a walk at a busy park. Distraction is a viable strategy to regulate emotions, as it decreases activity in the amygdala, notes a study published in 2011 in "Cerebral Cortex." This is beneficial, since the amygdala is largely responsible for triggering the stress response. Even if doing the Sunday crossword doesn't sound very appealing, force yourself to complete it anyway, as it will help you to cope with your emotions and the unpleasant bodily sensations they can create.


Meditation doesn't mean you must sit in a lotus position for an hour at a time and chant "Om," although that is certainly an option. Simply sitting quietly and being aware of your breath while quieting your mind has numerous benefits. If you're struggling with managing negative emotions after a divorce, you'll be happy to know that meditation, as simple as it is, has been found to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, makes you feel less lonely and increases positive feelings, according to psychology researcher Emma Seppala, Ph.D., in a September 2013 article in "Psychology Today." Each time negative feelings surrounding your divorce threaten to engulf you, take a few minutes to meditate and you'll find your feelings become easier to manage.