How to Handle the Stress of Separation


Separating from a partner can be one of the most difficult things to go through. The emotions separation can bring may range from isolation, shame, and grief, through to anger and stress. Every one of these emotions has a place and purpose in your healing journey, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t difficult to handle from time to time. Thankfully, you are not alone and there are steps you can take, to minimise the intensity of these emotions and allow you to leap into the next chapter of your life.  

1. Take one step at a time  

No matter the reason for separation, it can make your world feel like it has been flipped upside down. Whilst it might not feel like it right now, this feeling is completely normal and to be expected when you are going though a large change in your life. You need to feel uncomfortable feelings in order to properly process life events and to move on.   

Feeling sad about the breakdown of your relationship allows you to grieve. Surround yourself with people who are okay with being a shoulder to cry on. During separation you need to communicate how you are feeling, with people who have the capacity and space to allow you to process emotions; people who make you feel safe in doing so. You are not broken for feeling sad. You are not a failure because a relationship did not work out. You are important and so is allowing yourself to feel any emotions that surface.  

Another emotion that commonly arises during separation, is anger. When feelings of frustration arise, the energy it brings can be channeled into healthy and productive outlets. Physical exercise, such as going to the gym, a walk, run or even safely using a boxing bag (anything to get you outside into nature), have been proven to assist with wellbeing and overall health. If you prefer, using a journal and documenting your emotions and thoughts can also be an extremely cathartic exercise, along with meditation. Both journaling and meditation can be practiced no matter where or when uncomfortable emotions come to you.  

Whilst it is important to know that the emotions you grapple with are normal, it is also vital to note that they are temporary; over time, their impact and intensity will continue to lessen.    

 2. Reach out for support  

Have you heard of the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? It’s true. You have commitments and people to care for, but first and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. One of the most fundamental ways you can care for yourself, is to lean on the support mechanisms that are there for you. Your former spouse might not be available for support anymore, but there are many other resources that can assist in sharing the weight of your responsibilities and emotions.  

Beyond friends and family (which you should certainly confide in if you can), discussing your separation with colleagues or your doctor can be important too. Whilst it may sometimes feel like it, the people of your workplace do not think you are a robot. A portion of everyone’s life involves dealing with discomfort and life events (such as separation). You are going to feel distracted and might find it difficult to be productive, but this is normal, and it will pass! If your workplace is aware of what you are feeling and why, this will likely provide some reprieve and understanding.  

If the intensity of your emotions becomes unbearable, it is particularly important to tell a medical professional. There are systems in place that are designed to give you what you need; support, safety, nurturing and care. The first step to accessing these systems is simply asking for help. There are places for you to turn to and you are worthy of their care. 

📞 13 14 65 – mental health triage  

📞 13 11 14 – lifeline  

📞 1300 224 636 – beyondblue  

Connect with a Clinician 1-on-1

3. Getting back on track 

They may seem obvious, but there are some simple steps that can be taken, to make life feel normal again.  

Start with the basics; maintaining a routine that ensures you eat regular, nutritious meals (or treat yourself to some banana bread) and get an adequate amount of sleep, can be a game changer for your wellbeing. Exercise is another straight-forward step to take, which will assist in regulating your emotions. 

Whilst reflecting on your life, including the time you spent with your former partner, do your best to view things with rose-colored glasses. It can be easy to be pessimistic, but viewing things in the best way possible, can help you to move on much faster than if you are focusing on things which make you feel negative and resentful. For example, instead of focusing on everything that you are going to miss about your former partner and the life you had together, you could be thinking about the things you are looking forward to doing now. You can now live your life for yourself and for those who you continue to surround yourself with!  

Remember that extreme emotions will not stay forever, but if they last for longer than you can bear, there are people and systems around you, that can help. You are worthy of support and it is available to you; do not be afraid to ask. Your life will continue after separation and it is important that you invest care into yourself, to be able to open the next chapter of your life as happily as possible.  

When you are ready our friendly legal team are also here to assist you to finalise the legal aspects of your separation.  


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