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Divorce Blog

10 Tips for dealing with the Limbo of separation and divorce

By Colette Fortin

Women waiting with coffee

Being in limbo, whether it’s three months or three weeks, is unsettling. It has got to be one of the most stressful stages of any life change — and especially in separation and divorce.

As human beings, we like to have a sense of control and security. So when the human brain is under stress, the ‘fight or flight’ mode is fully engaged. Our sense of equilibrium is shaky. We can become hijacked and we lose full control of our rational brain.

So how do you calm the fearful ‘lizard’ brain when you’re passing through the limbo phase?

Here are 10 suggestions for getting through the next few months:

Regain some perspective

Think of a time in the past when you faced a difficult challenge in your life. How did you overcome it? By using those past experiences where you faced challenges you can learn from them and grow.

Make a financial action plan

Determine who is going to pay which bills and by when. Nothing causes more stress during Limbo then worrying about how the bills are going to get paid. You will gain some security in knowing that everything is covered — and you’ll save your credit rating.

Create a list of expenses

Create a list of expenses so you know exactly how much money you have available each month. It can be a sobering reality check — but better to know than not. As a split couple, you now have the same amount of money to spread over two households. Now is not the time to stick your head in the sand.

Don’t be afraid to bring up debt

Take a look at credit lines and credit cards. Have a conversation around setting limits or freezing them altogether. This is also not the time for unnecessary spending.

Accept that this is a difficult time

In fact, divorce ranks as the second most stressful event in a person’s life. It’s okay to give yourself permission to own your feelings. Finding productive ways of relieving stress is key.

Take deep breaths

Calm the lizard brain — breathe, breathe, breathe.

Scientists know that when we are anxious, we take rapid, shallow breaths.

This type of shallow breathing leads to an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Therefore resulting in increased anxiety.

Create a mantra

Never underestimate the power of suggestion and positive messages. Come up with a simple saying that will help you get through those tough moments.

Post them anywhere you can to remind yourself that you will get through this.

Find a support network

Think of your support network and ask yourself: do I feel better when I leave their presence or do I feel worse? If the answer is I feel positive, empowered, optimistic, heard then I say keep doing what you’re doing.

If you feel drained, angry, frustrated, then it’s time to think about the effect the relationship has on you.

Taking a break from a friend doesn’t mean you have to abandon them forever. Although sometimes that does happen in the end. Rather, it means that you think carefully about who you spend time with and the impact they have on you.

Take care of you

Do something that makes you feel good. I had a client recently tell me that he donated blood for the first time in 15 years. And that it made him feel good about helping someone.

Sometimes a good deed can be the exact shift in energy we need.

Reclaim your power

Yes, even when your ex is driving you crazy.

You can’t control what someone else says or does, only how you choose to react to it. Reclaim your power to move through this challenging time in a way that is helpful for you.

Get out of limbo

You may not be able to control the fact that this life change is happening to you.

It’s possible that you don’t want the separation. Understandably that can be devastating as you grieve the loss of what you thought your life was going to be. But, with a little self care, and support from friends, you can get through limbo. You can regain balance in your life and emerge stronger and more self-assured.