Divorce is unquestionably one of the most stressful events anyone can experience. Life as you have known it is dramatically and irrevocably altered. Your world may feel like it has stopped spinning or maybe like it is spinning out of control. Fundamental, foundational aspects of your existence—things you may have taken for granted—must be re-evaluated, negotiated, and ultimately may be determined by a third party.
Whether it’s where you live, custody arrangements for children or pets, the division of assets, earnings and memories, or just the fracture of a relationship you expected to last forever, all of these issues are life-altering. When dealing with the dissolution of so many of the certainties you once depended upon, it's easy to move into a place of constant anxiety… becoming paralyzed with ambivalence. This places an unhealthy, unsustainable amount of stress on your mind and body.
The first step toward healing is actually to take a step back. Try to get perspective on the situation. Slow down, give yourself time, and look for ways you can care for you. Over time, fears and apprehensions begin to dissipate, and confidence begins to grow. Life moves forward.
Here are some strategies that I adopted—and the ones I know made all the difference in seeing me through to my own new beginning:
It might sound cliché, but that's because it works. Truly, the best way I have found to relieve stress is through exercise. Whether it’s hot yoga, running or cycling, a workout with a friend, or kickboxing to relieve anxiety and release aggression, I came to depend upon a combination of the adrenaline rush of an all-consuming workout and the meditative inward yoga practices. But what works for me might not work for you. If those high-intensity workouts don't do it for you, try going on a hike or even a walk. Getting out and moving around is beneficial to both mental and physical health—and you get added benefits from doing it outdoors.
Exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which fight stress, minimize the discomfort of the exercise, block feelings of pain (physical and emotional), and are even associated with feelings of euphoria. Exercise and yoga made all the difference in my journey to the mindset of resilience I needed to make it through my divorce and beyond.
It’s important to commit to investing time into taking care of yourself. I could've languished in bed, depressed, when I was in the throes of my divorce, and I did for a time, but I quickly chose instead to discipline myself to fill my empty hours with things that nourish me—mind, body, and soul. I still make time for a workout every day because it clears my mind and gets me ready for the challenges I will face—both personally and professionally. A recent study from Harvard Medical School even shows that exercise improves memory and critical-thinking skills. Make sure, even during the most hectic of days, you set aside some time to focus on yourself and your well-being.
3. Get uncomfortable. (You won't regret it.)
Once you've boosted your resilience through exercise and nurtured your internal balance with self-care, challenge yourself to take on a new endeavor. Learn to cook; travel to a country you've always had an interest in; take ballroom dancing classes. It’s been proven that people who engage in new activities are more likely to focus more on the positive aspects of their life.
“Though it may feel unfamiliar—and maybe even a little uncomfortable—you'll experience incredibly positive feelings if you stick with it. Our minds and bodies are connected. When you take care of your body, your mind benefits, and vice versa. Ultimately, when you feel good about yourself, you’re able to be stronger for others in your life—as a parent, friend, sibling, or partner. Life—especially in the midst of divorce—is undoubtedly difficult. But for exactly that reason, it becomes more important than ever that we put our best, strongest selves forward to face the challenges before us”.
LIVE A BROWN DOG LIFE
The Sober Season...
In the past, if someone said they were "sober," it usually meant they were “on the wagon”… a recovering alcoholic. But over the past few years, a noticeable shift has started to occur toward sobriety. Americans have put more and more focus on health and wellness. Drinking habits will be the next frontier to be conquered.
In the last year especially, helmed by several wellness influencers, the sobriety movement has presented itself as one of the top solutions for the growing dissatisfaction we have with our lack of authentic, genuine connections and/or careers that don't challenge, energize and inspire us. Included in our quest to gain a better sense of self and quality of life is the ever-present deleterious effects of alcohol on the body and mind. According to Dr. Mark Hyman in his book, The UltraMind Solution, “alcohol damages the liver and prevents it from excreting excess estrogen… a factor that influences hormonal imbalance. Men who drink too much literally grow breasts along with their beer bellies!” This raises the question as to whether or not one may drink and still take an effective approach to dieting and wellness.
Biet Simkin, Founder of Center of the Cyclone, a musician and meditation expert, believes substances actually disconnect us from our true selves, making sobriety not just beneficial but actually a prerequisite to finding and fulfilling our purpose. "Having explored alcohol and drugs in some depth myself, I know that they don't propagate intentional living. When substances get involved, the experience you have tends to get farther and farther from the experience you intended to have." So, what does she say to people who think they need "liquid courage" to be honest—for whom alcohol is a means of facilitating intimacy? "Vulnerability requires authenticity, and authenticity requires vulnerability. Neither of these outcomes is encouraged by the crutch of substances."
The popularity of alcohol-free get togethers is growing, and in 2017, we will see even more of a shift toward mindful interactions and refreshing alternatives to booze. Cities like LA and NYC are already gaining momentum, propelled by cutting-edge and trendy watering holes and restaurants eager to catch the wave. In New York, high-end bar and eatery, The Nomad Hotel, has added a selection of nonalcoholic drinks referred to as “Mocktails”, to their cocktail menu. Farm-to-table restaurant, Riverpark, is offering Temperance Coolers, inspired by and composed of local, seasonal ingredients—just like everything else on the menu. But this isn't just an East Coast thing…
On the West Coast, in San Francisco and Oakland, microbreweries like Copenhagen-based Mikkeller are starting to cater to the connoisseur who wants to enjoy the experience and taste of a well-crafted beer without the buzz. Mikkeller's “Drink'in The Sun 13” rates at just 0.26 ABV, but features flavors as rich and diverse as lemon, grapefruit, peach, and apricot. At the same alcohol level, “Drink'in The Snow” gives you a holiday flavor profile complete with clove, coriander, and orange.
In 2017, we will see the availability and variety of nonalcoholic options continue to grow even more. Along with the increase in options, we can expect our choices to become more intentional and better integrated with our long-term dreams, goals and life purpose. Ruari Fairbairns, Founder of the alcohol-free movement “One Year No Beer”, has experienced this change personally and has seen it in other converts of the program: "I'd always dreamed of achieving so much, and part of me suspected the booze was holding me back. Now I can say with absolute authority, “The booze was holding you back, mate”.
By: Nicole Celentano Gallagher
live a brown dog life
Browns and greys are perfect colors for many things; brown puppies are adorable, milk chocolate is brown, grey walls in your home are classic and chic, Fifty Shades of Grey sold over one hundred million copies. But, too much of anything is bad; brown puppies sometimes leave brown messes, milk chocolate can cause unwanted weight gain, the grey walled rooms require pops of color accents, even FSG has a red room.
February in the northeast can be downright dismal and depressing with the dullness of brown and grey day after day. It seems like forever since you've felt the warmth of the sun on your face and the “brey days” are turning your grey matter blue. Holiday bills are high, temperatures are low, and the days are way too short. It is the middle of winter and the winter blues are the only pop of color accenting your browns and greys.
It’s right around this time every year when you start to feel a little bummed. You don't have to wait until Spring to get out of your funk and start smiling again. Here are 9 scientifically proven ways to lift your spirits and ease the winter blues… err browns, greys and blues.
1. Brighten your environment. When your body is craving more daylight, sitting next to an artificial light—also called a light box—for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Opening blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sitting closer to windows can also help provide an extra dose of sunshine.
2. Eat smarter. Foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
3. Simulate dawn. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.
4. Exercise. A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only. Try yoga. to find your inner self and peace. Yoga is food for the heart and soul.
5. Tune in. In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term. Choose your genre and exercise the “brey days” away.
6. Plan a vacation. The beach is calling. Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness.
7. Help others. Spending time at the soup kitchen for the local shelter or volunteering your time can improve mental health and life satisfaction. The act of helping others is rewarding and humbling.
8. Get outside. Spending time outside (even when it's chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels.
9. Reconnect. Reconnecting with friends and spending time laughing and sharing makes memories that comfort the soul. This does not mean via social media, but rather Face-2-Face.
Don’t get stuck sitting in your room with grey walls, your adorable chocolate lab puppy and a box of chocolates, while reading FSG… sans a Valentine. You can always paint your walls orange and adopt another puppy. Orange is the happiest color! Or you can wait for Spring… it will be here soon!