Of all the emotions a person can feel while going through a divorce–fear, sadness, guilt, self-pity, anger, and resentment, one of the worst ones might be frustration. Frustration during divorce is very hard to cope with. Why?
Because frustration during divorce stems from situations in which you have no control. Frustration happens when you feel like you are following all the rules and your ex isn’t. Frustration happens when you keep trying different things to make peace and nothing is working. Frustration happens when you weigh all your options to solving a problem and none of them seem like good ones. And, frustration happens when you feel like you are working really really hard with the best intentions, and nothing you are doing is paying off. More specifically, frustration during divorce can stem from:
1. The process taking longer than you want.
2. Large legal fees when you feel like nothing is getting accomplished.
3. Your ex being unreasonable, inflexible and irrational.
4. Your ex being bitter and angry and unwilling to communicate with you.
Frustration during divorce can make a person really, really angry. Infuriated. Mad. Bonkers! So, if you are feeling this way, what are you supposed to do? Kick and scream? Punch a wall? Cry? Get drunk? Throw something? Call your attorney?
Obviously, these are all really bad options in dealing with frustration during divorce. Once when I was really, really frustrated, I was so angry, I did something very impulsive. I put on some workout clothes and running shoes, and I ran out the door. I ran down the block as fast as I could. I ran and ran and ran. After about 15 minutes, I felt like I had a new understanding of Forrest Gump’s mentality. I could have run for days, weeks, months. I never wanted to stop. When I got home (about 45 minutes later) I felt incredibly better. The running didn’t solve my problem, but it helped me manage the frustration.
That was #1 of 20 things you can do when the frustration during divorce makes you feel like you are going bonkers! Here are the rest:
2. Meditate/deep breathing.
Have you ever heard of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction? Look it up! There should be classes near you. It is designed to develop and integrate mindfulness practices into everyday life, using meditation, body awareness, and gentle movement. It will teach you tools to reduce stress and live with greater ease, strength and resilience. There is also 4-7-8 breathing, yoga, and many other meditation apps.
There is nothing like helping others to make you feel better about yourself and about life. Giving your time and help to others not only helps the other people, but it will help give your life meaning. It will help you feel like you have purpose, and it will make you like yourself. Volunteering and giving makes all your problems seem really really small. Try it!
4. Call a girlfriend.
Meet her for a walk or coffee and promise yourself you aren’t going to talk about what is frustrating you. Instead, focus on your friend. Let her talk to you about her frustrations. Three things will happen. You will have helped her, you won’t feel as badly about your situation, and most importantly, you will have done something thoughtful and selfless.
Sorry if you think I’m superficial, but I’ve never ever been in a bad mood after buying something I really want that makes me happy. You don’t have to go crazy. A new pair of sandals, a new bathing suit, even just a new cheap pair of earrings can change your mood. It’s not so much the buying as it is looking around and taking your mind off things you can’t control.
6. Work in your garden.
Feeling productive and creating beauty takes away frustration. If you’re not a gardener, just take a walk. In the snow, on the beach, in the woods, there is beauty everywhere. Consciously look at it. It will make you feel great, and make your divorce seem very small.
7. Write down specifically what is frustrating you.
Just start typing. Then read it. Then save it. Don’t show it to anyone, but look at it next time you are frustrated. Writing helps people feel like they are being heard, it helps in feeling validated, and it helps prevent you from calling someone and venting (which is an OK option, too, but this works just as well!)
8. Go to a quiet place, make a cup of tea and read a book.
Just do it. It will take you away. It is such a better alternative than pouring yourself a glass of wine. Reading will take you into someone else’s life, their story. Or it will educate you, entertain you, make you laugh, make you cry. It will make you feel like you’re on a vacation from your divorce.
9. Go get a pedicure.
Anytime I can have my feet rubbed is a great day! How can you feel frustrated with pampering like that?
10. Don’t call anyone.
All you will do is express your frustration. Spare them and spare yourself from talking about it more. Again, journaling is better. You will get the same effect. Save the calls for happy things and having fun!
11. Put on some music and just start dancing.
I’m being completely serious. Music and movement are extremely therapeutic for stress, anxiety and yes, frustration. Good songs, songs that you know, and songs that bring back great memories will shift your mood, I promise!
12. Do laundry and/or change sheets.
Feeling productive will help you feel more in control. It will be off your to-do list and you will be feeling like you are actually doing something.
13. Do 25 jumping jacks…
25 sit ups, 25 push ups, and plank for 25 seconds. Do that 4 times.
14. Do Sudoku or a crossword puzzle.
It is exercise for your mind. It will challenge you and shift your focus.
15. Work on some kind of craft or project.
Nothing can make you feel productive like making progress on a project. Whether it’s a painting, a novel, knitting a sweater, or a scrapbook, working on it will calm you.
16. Cook or bake.
This will relax you, and you will end up with yummy food for your kids! My favorite is a banana bread with dried cherries. Leave out the sugar and add 2/3 cup of Greek yogurt. So yummy!
17. Put on a sporting event.
The other day, I was watching the Olympics and it not only occupied my thoughts, but it was so exciting and enjoyable and inspirational!!
18. Clean out a closet.
Getting rid of junk and things you don’t need is really cleansing and therapeutic.
19. Take a bubble bath.
20. Recite the serenity prayer.
This will take you 30 seconds. Trust me, it helps.
I’m not claiming that these 20 things are the answers to your problems. Doing these things won’t make the problems go away. However, they will help you manage the stress and anxiety that comes with frustration. The good news is, at some point it will end. The issues will get solved. It just takes time.
Like this article? Check out my article, Going Through a Divorce? One Word That Will Keep You Out of the Garbage Chute
Great article as always Jackie. Here are two things I counsel my clients to try.
1. Write a letter to your ex-honest, raw, real, harsh, nasty, whatever they need to say. Write it. Get it out. Burn it. The process itself is as important as sending it.
2. Write a letter to yourself – from your ex – the letter that you want, need, deserve, but will never come.
In my experience doing these two things sets in motion physical, emotional and spiritual energies that begin to shift you, them and your world.
Keep up the inspiring work you are doing!
Your newest fan.
I love these suggestions so much!!!
Awesome points! Best part – these “feel good” tips need not cost a cent! Self-pampering – the tea, the bubble bath, the manicure, the pedicure, or simply putting on a smidgen of lipstick can boost the self-esteem in an instant. No point in letting yourself go to the dogs!
love the lipstick idea!
This was something I needed to read. I am very frustrated and these emotions described me perfectly!! Thank you for this! I can’t wait to start putting some of these suggestions into practice!
It was nice hearing you both talk about my feelings; I am not the only one! The best is not calling your lawyer to vent and wasting more money.
All great 20 suggestions to do when frustrated!
Keeping busy is key to keeping well.
How about an article on Frustration after Divorce?