What You Can Learn From J.K. Rowling About Thriving After Divorce

By Tonya Graser Smith

Happy New Year. When you’re getting divorced, you’re embarking on a new year, no matter the date on the calendar.

In helping clients through one of the most difficult times in their lives, I urge them to give themselves grace and take care of themselves. How else could you possibly survive when your world seems to be falling apart? The fact is you have nowhere to go but onward and upward. Be grateful that you are facing the challenge and starting a new chapter and a new year.

Consider what J.K. Rowling has said of her divorce: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life.” In 1993, Rowling separated from her first husband and moved from Portugal to Scotland with her baby daughter. In her suitcase: the first three chapters of what became the first installment of Harry Potter.

In honor of a new year and a new you, I offer these tips for how to better take care of yourself during and after divorce

  1. Meditate. Take as little as five minutes to let your mind rest. Try to pick the same time each day to meditate, so that it becomes part of your routine. If you need help making this a practice, look for an app to help. Simply Being, which is free, offers guided meditations to music or nature sounds. Headspace, another free guided meditation app, will send you reminders that it’s time to clear your head.
  2. Practice yoga. Yoga is like meditation meets exercise. It’s a great time to focus on nothing but your breath and being on your mat. You might have to try a few different classes and instructors until you find the one that speaks to you. It’s called practice for a reason; it’s not about being perfect each time.
  3. Reflect on one thing a day for which you’re grateful. Health. Friends and family. Naturally. But also perhaps hot coffee, Netflix or a good book. To keep gratitude top of mind, consider keeping a journal or saying a daily prayer or intention. There are also a lot of apps with daily gratitude reminders. And if you have kids, they might enjoy a dinner table ritual of “highs” and “lows,” in which everyone reports on the best and not-so-great parts of their day.
  4. Get outside. Run, bike, hike. Take a walk after dinner. Just get outside. There’s something about fresh air and nature that makes us feel happier and more centered. There’s something to the whole “Stop and smell the roses” thing.
  5. Write a thank you note. Has your tribe risen to the occasion during your divorce? Helping get the kids where they need to be? Bringing you dinner when you haven’t been able to cook? Go old school and thank your friends and family with handwritten thank you notes. It feels a lot better to write – and receive – than email.
  6. Do something to make someone else’s day. Be part of someone else’s tribe. Make time to take a friend to lunch. Surprise your neighbor with a bottle of wine. Send the teacher a small gift for tuning into what your child is going through.

And above all else, give yourself grace. This is your present, not your future. The new year is yours to make what you want of it.

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