My friend Tony at Colts Neck Pizza, got me thinking last month. He joked, “I have a complaint. I read your articles, but you never say…have a pizza.” As I ate my pizza that evening, I thought about what he said. It made a lot of sense.
Divorce is stressful even in the more amicable splits. When the acrimony is extreme, stress levels can skyrocket. People deal differently with stress. Some lose weight. Others gain weight. Difficulty sleeping or concentrating are frequent side effects. Irritability, raw nerves, or depression can occur. The list of symptoms is a long one. Mental health and medical professionals often advise that taking care of yourself physically can help you cope with the emotional aspects of stress. In turn, taking care of your mental health can help with its physical manifestations.
For instance, doing your best to adhere to a schedule often helps you cope with the uncertainty inherent in divorce. Resolve to eat three meals a day at about the same time each day. That will help you to avoid binge eating or force you to eat, even a little. If you can discipline yourself to stay on schedule, you will very likely see positive results. Go to bed the same time every night. Turn off the television. If you need a sleep aid, do what I do. Pick up a book. It works every time. Calculate your bedtime so you can get at least seven hours per night. Regular exercise can help to burn nervous energy. You don’t have to run a marathon or climb a mountain. Start slowly. Walking is a good place to begin. Increase your exercise as you can. You’ll feel the difference almost immediately. Exercise can create the “good tired” that comes from physical activity and should replace the fatigue that comes with stress. Exercise will help you sleep better and longer.
When you feel better physically, you’ll surely feel better mentally. And when you feel better mentally, you’ll reduce the likelihood that the stress of the divorce will result in bad eating, sleeping, or other habits.
The comfort of friends and relatives who can provide emotional support, but who can also help you get interested in things other than your divorce can be invaluable. It stands to reason that you probably won’t ever be able to get the divorce completely out of your mind, but helpful diversions can provide much needed rest from mental fatigue.
Of course, everyone is different and the same things don’t work for everyone. There are times when you need a reward, an immediate lift to your spirits, when only a very specific remedy will do. It can be an ice cream cone or a piece of chocolate cake. Or, as Tony says, “Have a pizza!”