UPDATED: Divorce represents a titanic life change. In short order, almost every aspect of your life undergoes a radical overhaul. The process comes with all manner of issues to deal with, from the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts of dissolving your marriage to financial worries and emotional distress. Something men often tend to overlook in this process, but that has a huge overall impact, are health issues that arise when ending a marriage.
Saying goodnight to a chapter of your life is an emotional time and often leads to a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Sure, divorce may be the absolute right choice in a given situation. But that doesn’t make it easy, nor is getting to that point.
Often arriving with a potent cocktail of guilt, anxiety, uncertainty, grief, and even fear, divorce can be a sucker-punch to self-worth and self-esteem. Programmed to suffer in silence, many men carry this heavy weight alone rather than turning to friends, loved ones, or even professionals to help cope with these feelings. This often manifests in a variety of ailments and elevated health risks.
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Increased Health Issues
Mental health is a prominent casualty of divorce. Men are more likely to suffer from depression in the aftermath. This despair often leads to a downward spiral—sometimes gradual, sometimes rapid.
Losing a wife, a life partner, and children in divorce can be a crushing, crippling blow to many men. Moving forward after suffering such a monumental shift is challenging at best, damn near impossible at worst.
When coming face to face with a vague, unclear future, it’s easy to turn to high-risk behaviors to fill the void left by family and married life. Alcohol abuse, drug use, and other potentially detrimental behaviors spike in the wake of divorce as many men look to otherwise occupy themselves. We all get sad sometimes, but wallowing in prolonged bouts of depression and injurious activities are tantamount to self-abuse.
Following divorce, suicide rates in men swell. And though that may fall on one extreme end of the spectrum, other degrees exist. During the tough times after ending a marriage, it’s easy to lose the motivation to take care of yourself. If you no longer have to look after your family, good habits tend to fall by the wayside.
Eating right, regular exercise, and general upkeep are easy things to let slip and not always so simple to regain. Men have been shown to be at an increased risk for a variety of health issues after divorce. This includes hypertension, heart disease, and even cancer, among other serious concerns.
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What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
Being manly and stoic is all well and good when it comes to stubbing a toe or spraining an ankle. But it’s a terrible strategy for coping with divorce and emotional trauma. Going through something as monumental as ending a marriage alone does you a huge disservice.
This is the time when you need to lean on friends, family, and the people who care about you. No one wants to watch you suffer by yourself. People out there want to help, and assembling a support system will only benefit your health.
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Take Care Of Yourself
No matter how down in the dumps you get, no matter how much you feel like indulging in abject misery, make the time and effort to take care of yourself. This can take a number of forms. Eat right—dinner doesn’t need to be McDonald’s and Taco Bell every night—don’t skip the gym, don’t isolate yourself, and maybe lay off the sauce.
Preventative medical care also goes a long way to ensuring your physical well-being. Many men forego annual checkups and only go to the doctor when they’re sick.
Making the time to get a regular tune-up may catch signs of impending health issues and head them off before they do serious harm. Or at least it gives your doctor the opportunity to chew you out about your diet. And as far as mental health goes, if you’re not into talking to friends or family, unburdening yourself to a professional therapist might do some good.
No one ever said divorce was going to be easy. It’s a tough time, even when it’s 100% the right choice. But you don’t need to go through it alone. You can take steps to ensure that you emerge on the other side with your health intact. Maintaining your mental and physical welfare through the dark days is a priority worth setting.