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Choosing healthy coping mechanisms during a difficult divorce

There are many situations and events in life that are major stressors and may require us to grieve; including divorce. Many people seek counseling or similar help after the death of a loved one or while going through a personal illness. But fewer are those who seek such support during divorce.

Why is this? Perhaps it is because there is a misconception that you "should" be able to handle a divorce on your own. Or maybe you think you can't afford to focus on yourself because you need to be there for your children. Whatever reason you may have for neglecting your own emotional care doesn't change the fact that such care is almost always necessary during divorce. If you don't handle your emotions in a healthy way, you might inadvertently seek out self-destructive coping mechanisms.

In a recent Huffington Post article, a blogger named Jackie Pilossoph shared a story about something that happened to her while trying to cope with seperating from her husband, whom she later divorced. She said that during the first couple weeks of separation, she tried to cope with her painful feelings by drinking more.

Her drinking perhaps didn't reach the level of addicition or serious long-term abuse, but she was nonetheless using alcohol to self-medicate. One night, she was out at a bar with a friend and had just finished a glass-and-a-half of wine, which was substantial for her.

She then received a call from her babysitter that one of her children was sick; and she immediately left the bar to drive home as quickly as she could. On the way home, she was pulled over. Thankfully, she was not ticketed, arrested or given a field sobriety test. In the article, she said she didn't know whether she would have been able to pass one.

Her larger point is that divorce is a difficult experience, and we need to address it as such. You risk making things worse if you try to soothe your negative emotions or cope with stress and sadness by using alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or any other substance or behavior that can be abused. 

Instead, seek out healthier coping mechanisms. These can include therapy, exercise, massage/spa treatments, time with friends or doing something else you enjoy. You may not have a choice about needing coping mechanisms. But you do have a choice about what those coping mechanisms are. 

Source: Huffington Post, "Don't Drink and Drive: Not Just Good Advice, Good DIVORCE Advice!" Jackie Pilossoph, Nov. 3, 2013

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