If you're reading this, you're most likely a dad or single dad. Many of you are in the process of a separation or divorce or are already divorced.
And as you know, there are few things more stressful than leaving your family to start a new life. It can and will wreak havoc on your emotional and physical well-being and can lead to all sorts of health issues, including heart attacks.
A few years ago, when I was still living at home (but sleeping on the couch), I was one giant ball of stress. I wasn't taking care of myself physically and was in a constant start of unhappiness and despair.
Each night as I went to bed, I felt my sadness overtake me. I felt trapped in a life that I knew wasn't good for me or my daughters but was helpless to do anything about it. i had responsibilities after all and I had signed up "for better or for worse". Well this was worse..
And after a few months of couch sleeping and realizing that this was my fate, I started having chest pains. Week after week they got worse and eventually I starting thinking I was having mini heart attacks.
It was scary. Really scary. After all, I was 40 years old, sat at a desk all day, and ate like shit. I was a pretty good candidate (on paper anyway) for a heart attack. At least that's how I saw it.
Stress Will Fuck You Up
This message was posted on my Facebook wall the other day and it says a lot about what many men are dealing with.
"Is anyone else going through what I'm going through and how do you handle it? It's been 10 months since the separation. I still get stressed and become uneasy when I'm around my ex. I'm trying to be around her just for the kids. I don't talk to her and I try my hardest not to look at her just because she hurt me so bad this time.
I immediately become depressed when I'm near her. I try not to show it. I usually end up taking a lot of trips outside or to the bathroom just to get away from her. Any advise on getting over the hurt and pain?"
Hurt and pain are two things we must face when we split up. We are leaving behind our old life for the chance at a new, happier one. It's scary, sad, and lonely. We are leaving our kids, our homes, and the lives we spent so long working for.
All in hopes of a better life.
And with this pain comes stress. Stress of starting over, feeling lost, depressed, and wondering if you made the right decision. I don't know your personal situation, but I have no doubt there is a ton of pain, anger, and sadness in your mind right now.
It's normal to feel that way and even healthy, but you have to learn how to deal with those emotions in ways that are constructive, not destructive.
As much as you'd like to sweep all your emotions and baggage under the rug, you can't. At least not long-term. I'm stuck with a bitter ex-wife and can't do shit about it except be the best dad I can be and try to make sure my girls are not impacted by what goes on with us.
I spent the better part of a year wallowing in sadness and misery after my separation. My pain and stress was related to leaving my daughters, not my marriage, but for many of you, there is still a glimpse of hope that things might end up differently.
Whatever the case, the stress you are dealing with now can be toxic. It can suck the life from you, age you ten years, and leave you feeling like you just don't care.
Not only that, but it can lead to stress related cardiomyopathy (i.e. heart attack).This is a real concern and it does happen.
Many of you are dealing with a broken heart much like I was and as it turns out, there is actually a real condition concerning this called "broken heart" syndrome. Here is a Q&A about "broken heart" syndrome, and it is extremely stressful and yes, it can kill you!
You can't let that happen. Not for you and not for your children. Your stress will carry over into every aspect of your life including your time with your kids. You cannot allow that!
So your goal is to reduce your stress as much as humanly possible. You will never eliminate it, but you can take a number of steps to reduce it significantly.
So in today's video, I share 10 things you can start doing that will lower your stress levels and hopefully spare you from an early grave.
- Hit the weights. Hard.
- Clean up your diet.
- Let yourself be emotional.
- Talk about it.
- Focus on positive things and people.
- Stop negative self talk and blaming.
- Remember, it's all about your children.
- Get help if needed.
- Life is too short for this.
The Stress Chart
Not that you need to know how stressed out you are, but I think it's interesting to see how much divorce can affect our emotional state.
Below is the Holmes Rahe Stress Chart, which is an indicator of the likelihood of someone having an emotional breakdown. As you can see, the top two of three are what many of you are going though.
Take the advice I am offering in today's video and implement it into your life. Seriously. Life is short, fellas. Don't make it any shorter..