Anxiety Fear and Divorce: Cope By Training Your Mind To Re-Think

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

Anxiety fear and divorce go together. In fact, I think anxiety and fear are two of the most prevalent emotions in divorce, and they last the longest. If you think about it, it makes sense. The unknown can be scary and stressful, especially when it comes to children, finances, living alone, the divorce process itself, maintaining a relationship with your ex, and dating.


There are many ways to soothe anxiety and fear. Some people go on medication. While I am not personally a fan, I think in some cases it is necessary and can be very beneficial. In fact, I myself went on medication for a little while during my divorce. There is also exercise, lifestyle choices, therapy, faith and something I’m going to address below—training your mind to re-think.


It doesn’t happen very often, but there are times I fall into this bad place where all of my problems come to the forefront of my mind, and this horrible feeling of hopelessness creeps into my psyche. It brings tears to my eyes, angers me sometimes, and has me asking, “Why so often does life feel like it’s two steps forward, four steps back?”


Here are 9 things you might be thinking during your divorce, and 9 ways to train your mind to re-think them:


1. Life feels like it’s two steps forward, four steps back.

Hard work, dedication and consistency will ultimately move me ahead, making the steps backward not even noticeable at some point.


2. I’m scared.

Fear is created in my own mind. I have the power to recognize that and to use it to drive me, motivate me, and energize me to achieve great things.


3. My financial picture seems bleak.

I have a roof over my head, food on my table, heat, medical care, even a bed to sleep in. That’s not bleak.


4. I hope my divorce doesn’t affect my children in a negative way.

I have the power to raise my children as I see fit. I’m a great mom (or dad), I show them love, I have open communication with them and I am doing everything in my power to help them during this difficult time. The rest is uncontrollable and therefore is a waste of negative energy to think about.


5. When it comes to dating after divorce, relationships can be complicated with kids and ex’s, and loving again takes vulnerability and courage, which I don’t know if I have.

Romantic love at any age is beautiful and fun and sexy and breathtaking. Vulnerability is healthy and makes the relationship better. Whether he loves me or not is out of my control. All I can do is be me and be proud of who I am.




6. Dealing with my ex can be so difficult.

Stop whining and put on your big girl pants. I’m in a relationship I will have to maintain in a healthy way for a long, long time. Learn to live with it. It’s not going away. And, never stop taking the high road. It will never be the wrong decision, no matter how he (or she) acts towards me.



7. It’s hard to be a single mom (or dad). I feel alone sometimes.

Would I rather be in my former bad marriage? Also, I am not alone if I have children, a good family and/or friends, and people who love me. Plus, 50% of the population is divorced making 50% of them single parents, just like me.

8. Why is my ex in a relationship and I’m still single?

This isn’t a competition. Let him or her live their life. I need to focus on mine. Do I want to be in a relationship? How can I make that happen? Am I happy? If not, what’s it going to take to make me happy? Better figure it out soon.


9. Getting older isn’t easy.

Really? You’re playing that card? Am I healthy? I need to do what it takes to get to my healthiest potential. Health should be my number one priority. What’s it going to take?


Taking off your wedding ring means...what exactly?


I have one last suggestion for dealing with fear and anxiety during divorce. Go directly to the gym.


There is something about that place, as if it has some kind of a vacuum that sucks in everything that is bugging you.


I’m not saying that working out solves your problems, but rather that engaging in physical activity, lifting weights, and challenging your body takes your mind to the core of what you are doing at that moment—working hard, and it makes everything in life seem so much more manageable and solvable.


It’s kind of like you walk in there all doom and gloom, and you walk out refreshed, your mind open to all these creative avenues that are going to help solve your problems, along with a feeling of accomplishment and self-worth. It happens to me time and time again. I’ll go so far as to say going to the gym is like taking a happy pill.


Remember that everyone experiences fear and anxiety during divorce, and even after. It’s part of life. The key in managing it is focusing that energy on the things you have, the positives, and the aspects that are going to shape your bright future. And when you start thinking that way, good things begin to happen!

Like this article? Check out “Dating Advice: Mixed Signals Means She’s Mixed Up”


Katz and Stefani Family Law Attorneys


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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

3 Responses to “Anxiety Fear and Divorce: Cope By Training Your Mind To Re-Think”

  1. Elle

    Hi Jackie,

    I’m going through a divorce right now after trying three times to help heal my marriage; once on my own and twice in counseling. My spouse didn’t really try and would not accept responsibility – he would put it on me squarely every time. It was heartbreaking. Now, we are fast approaching mediation and I have been experiencing terrible fear and anxiety. I was trying so hard to deal with it, and waking up with chest tremors, tears and the sweats at 3:00 am! It was hard to get it out of my mind and although reading articles helped a bit, and talking to a few trusted friends helps too, I still was not making progress. This article resonated with me. It was like you were talking to me personally as a friend, helping me while helping me to see the situation clearly and helping me to bolster myself up.

    I know I will hurt, and grieve and still get afraid. But I think this has helped me with the anxiety and has given me a step up so that I can move forward, deal with what must be done, and heal. Thank you, Jackie! I cannot thank you enough!

    • Jackie Pilossoph

      Aww, it is the least I can do!! I know someone else who was waking up with night sweats during his initial separation. I would recommend (don’t roll your eyes) deep breathing exercises when you feel stress coming on, doing yoga, working out and eating as healthy as possible. try to minimize drinking. If you love wine, just try having one glass instead of 2 or 3. I know these seem like trite suggestions but I promise, they will help. Things will continue to get better and better for you. I promise!! Hang in there. xo


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