Divorces can be draining, especially when many take up to 12 months to finalize. Getting back on your feet after a painful divorce can be challenging but parlaying that into personal happiness is even tougher.

Fortunately, you’re not doing this alone, and you’re not the first person to go through this experience. There are thousands of people just like you where you live who have made it through the same experiences that you’re going through now and you’ll make it through as well.

1. Search Out Friends and Family

Before you start looking for happiness, the first thing you must find is support. While it’s possible to survive a divorce by yourself, it’s far easier if you have friends and family around you that can support you and push you to improve yourself. Ideally, they live close to you, but Skype and Facebook have made communication far easier than ever before.

According to Judith Goldberg, getting the support of your friends and family is particularly important in the first month after you get divorced when you are the most fragile. At this point, you should spend as much time as possible with these people so that you’re not alone and can get assistance with your healing.

While meeting new people is great, straight after a divorce you need to be able to talk to people freely, and the best solution for this is people you’ve known for years. They will be able to tell you their own stories of triumph and encourage you to find happiness.

2. Be Thankful

Although it’s hard to be optimistic following a break-up, it’s not helpful to dwell in negative thoughts. That doesn’t mean that you should lie to yourself, but no matter how bad your life is there is always something to be thankful for. It might be your friends, your family, a pet, your job, your health or the fact that your sports team won their last game.

Finding positive thoughts to surround yourself with is particularly important as you begin to heal. While it’s not going to solve all of your problems, it can prevent a small problem from turning into an overwhelming demon that you can’t shake off. Every morning, wake up and say out loud five things that you’re thankful for and this will help you to start the day on a positive note.

3. Spend Time on Your Interests

When you’re married, you constantly have to think about another person, and you can often lose track of your progress. This is the ideal time to focus your efforts on your interests, whether it be a hobby, a career path or a sport that you care about.

By taking the time to spend on your interests you can take your mind off the divorce, but you can also start to find some joy in your life. Ideally, these interests should be something that you are truly passionate about and can find happiness in. As a new divorcee you’ll have plenty of time on your hands and pursuing a hobby can be a fantastic choice.

If you don’t have any interests right now, start a new one. If you’re stuck for ideas, something physical is always a great option. Exercise produces endorphins which make you feel happy and alive, staving off depression and giving you a new lease of life. Plus, it’ll help to tone your body and make you feel more confident about yourself as you move forward with your life.

If you’re nervous about pursuing an interest of yours or starting a new hobby, you might ask one of your friends or family members to join you for the first time. This can be fun for both of you, it makes it less daunting, and it makes you accountable to somebody else for your progress.

4. Plan Out Your Future

When you get divorced, one of the hardest things is deciding what you’re going to do next. Often your plans will be in disarray, and this can cause anxiety and depression because you feel adrift rather than moving towards a valued goal. To fix this, you need to think long and hard about what you want to achieve in the next month, three months, one year and three years.

What do you want your career to look like? What do you want your relationships with your friends and families to be like? How do you want your mental state to have changed? With these answers, you can create a plan for yourself that you can follow, so that you have something to aim at rather than living day to day.

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