Updated: Aug 29, 2021
Aren't hangovers supposed to come on the heels of a night of partying and carousing? Doesn't a hangover imply that so much fun was had, you are willing to pay the price the next day? So why after completing one of life's most gut wrenching, financially devastating journeys do we have to then endure a hangover?
The divorce hangover comes about as a result of the left-over anger, pain and resentment that is still ongoing even after the divorce is finalized. So what can you do? Recognizing what is happening is the first step in being able to heal. There is emotional damage that has to be acknowledged so that you can move on. The strong emotional ties to your ex-spouse are one thing that is keeping this hangover in place. Those emotional ties don't have to be a longing for your spouse to be in your life again. They can be a need to blame, or desire to get revenge that runs in a never-ending cycle creating even more bitterness and anger over time.
The Science of the Divorce Hangover.
During divorce we are often in flight or flight mode for an extended period of time. The Amygdala part of our brain is where the survival response starts- the threat alarm goes off and our instincts kick in: flight-fight-freeze. The chemical soup of adrenaline and cortisol take over and it takes a minimum of 20 minutes to recover, much longer if you experience chronic stress. The problem solving parts of the brain are disconnected and we are not able to think clearly or rationally, letting our emotions rule our behavior. The problem is, the pathway that is formed becomes a well traveled road and before you know it, it is like a super-highway in your brain and has become a normal way of thinking. The only way to shrink this highway down to an overgrown trail is to make a conscious effort not to let your thoughts use that pathway.
The Good News.
During the divorce hangover you need to remember something: you have the power to change how you feel. In almost every article you read about this topic you will see similar advice. Breathe, get exercise, focus on positive thoughts. Move your emotions out of the past and point your energy to the future. Focus on yourself. You will hear this time and time again because it works. Letting the anger eat away at you is giving someone else power over you. Take back your power. Think back to a time that you were happy with yourself, proud of yourself for your accomplishments. Think specifically what you were happy with or proud of yourself for. You still have those qualities. They are still a part of you. Focus on those. Write them down. Say them out loud. Have a positive mantra that you write or shout out everyday. Every time you do something positive you shrink the negative in your mind and in your soul. Every time you let a positive thought win out over a negative one, you shrink that negative pathway and build a stronger, positive pathway. You can do this, one thought at a time. I believe in you!