Depending on the particulars of the divorce, a person might feel insecure, lonely, reserved or just plain sad, making the need for solitude strong. However, this is one of the worst times to isolate yourself from friends and family, and thus it is important to make an effort to maintain some semblance of a social life. According the Yale Medical Group, social interaction improves both physical and mental well-being.
After divorce, do not:
1. Sit at home alone stewing over what went wrong or obsessing about what your ex is currently doing. This will do nothing but torture you and is not productive. If you feel that it’s necessary to review what ended your relationship, call a friend or family member and have a “venting” session. This will at least offer some protection against wallowing alone in your misery.
2. Attempt to divvy up mutual friends. There is no reason to assume that friends will choose one side or the other in your divorce. It is more appropriate to maintain connections and relationships with your existing friends rather than trying to assign the friendships yourself.
3. Engage in catastrophic thinking. Regardless of the fact that your life has changed significantly, it is not over. Stop yourself from believing that you are at the end of your life or there is nowhere to go from the present simply because your marriage has ended. There are plenty of opportunities and new experiences for you to take advantage of on your own or with friends.
After divorce, do:
1. Establish a social routine for yourself as a single person. This can be as simple as having a meal with a friend or walking the dog with a neighbor. It is important to maintain social relationships and adjust to the new energy of being single instead of part of a couple.
2. Ask your friends and family for help. Believe it or not, people enjoy being asked for help, so give those who love you the chance to provide what you need. They will be able to offer you emotional, physical and spiritual help that will go a long way in helping you reestablish your confidence.
3. Find your passion. It is easy to become busy and immersed in a marriage and divert from really excites you. Treat this time of new singlehood as a chance to rediscover what you’re passionate about. Joining a pottery class, a dance class or even a book club could net some wonderful new friends and a needed sense of belonging.
Remember that being social not only improves your emotional and mental well-being but can also protect your physical well-being. In fact, being social can lessen the chances for high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. The immune system is also given a boost when you engage socially, lowering your risk for catching anything from a serious illness to the common cold. Research shows that people who maintain close friendships and engage in social activities will live longer than those who live in isolation (Yale School of Medicine 2011).