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 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 in 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 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 and spend more money?
Obviously, these are all really bad options in dealing with frustration. 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!
2. Meditate/deep breathing. I just heard about this amazing program called "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. I am actually going to invest in it.
3. Volunteer. There is nothing like helping others to make you feel better about yourself and about life.
4. Call a friend. 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.
5. Shop. 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.
7. Write down specifically what is frustrating you. Just start typing. Then read it. Then delete it. No need to save it. Just writing it will help you validate your frustrations.
8. Go to a quiet place, make a cup of tea and read a book. Just do it. It will take you away.
9. Go get a pedicure. It will have the same affect as the tea and the book.
10. Don't call anyone. All you will do is express your frustration. Spare them and spare yourself from talking about it more.
11. I'm being completely serious. Put on a couple of your favorite songs and just start singing.
12. Do laundry and/or change sheets. Again, feeling productive will help you feel more in control.
13. Do 25 jumping jacks, 25 sit ups, 25 push ups, and plank for 25 seconds. Do that 4 times.
14. Do Sudoku. 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!
17. Put on a sporting event--a sport you enjoy watching. The other day, I was watching the French Open 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, the thing about frustration is, know that at some point it will end. The issues will get solved. It just takes time (which is frustrating!)
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.