Getting Out and Being Social After a Divorce

  • Many people turn inward after a divorce, but it's important for them to interact with others.
  • Social interaction is beneficial to one's physical and mental health.
  • Reaching out to the support you may already have or creating a level of support will help you during the difficulties of divorce.

"Even though the divorce experience can make you jaded at times, the reality of most people is that they care."

After a divorce, it may seem like daily life is filled with aspects of uncertainty. While work may stay consistent, your motivation to do anything beyond that may be nonexistent. You may no longer be interested in your same hobbies. You may not wish to be seen in in public, making your gym life and social life bleak.

This type of mentality can cause these types of unhealthy behaviors to continue. As comfortable as retreating inward sounds, it is too important to try and live your life the healthiest way possible, and that includes exercising your social skills.

Out of practice

Many lose practice in exercising their own social skills In John O. Greene and Brant Raney Burleson’s “Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills,” they detail how challenging skilled social behavior can be and how much it draws on the cognitive processes like social perception, decision making, and interpretation.

This can be especially challenging for individuals attempting to piece together their lives after a divorce. Green and Burelson discuss how after a divorce, many people experience serious difficulties in trying to get back into the dating scene, due to the fact that they haven’t dated in a while.

For individuals who have retreated inward after a divorce, as opposed to seeking out social interaction, it is the same principle. Those that have not had a conversation with someone in a while may find it challenging to do so.

Social fears

Even before you step foot outside of the door, it’s important to remember that it is all going to be okay. There is not a visible sign that implies that you have gone through a divorce. No one is going to point and laugh. No one is going to stop and stare. You will not be looked at as less than human. You can do this.

It may seem unnecessary to point these types of things out, but it is important for one’s self-esteem to hear that they are capable and still have the ability to be socially active.

Countless studies have promoted social interaction as a way of improving one’s health, and conversely, avoiding social interaction can have negative consequences. The National Institute on Aging has stated that socially isolating yourself may actually have significant adverse effects, especially for older adults.

Physical and mental health

Social interaction promotes the healthy lifestyle necessary to help get you through the difficulties of divorce. According to studies published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviors, both quantitative and qualitative social relationships affect mental health, physical health, health behaviors, and mortality rate.

Social interaction has been known to reduce the risk of heart attack in men, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Studies at Duke University Medical Center also found that social ties can reduce death among people with serious medical conditions. The University of Texas found in their research that social interaction can enhance good health habits, like a lesser likelihood of smoking, more of a likelihood of exercise, more of a likelihood of consuming a balanced diet, and lesser of a likelihood of abusing drugs or alcohol.

Research also found mental health benefits to social interaction. The Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education’s Emma Seppala stated in her book, “The Happiness Track,” that individuals who feel more connected to others have lower levels of depression and anxiety. They also display levels of higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, and show a more trusting attitude.

Getting out

This is part of the reason why it is so beneficial to seek out social interaction. Aside from family members, no one is born with friends. We, as individuals, have to seek out interpersonal relationships, not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of society as a whole. We need one another in order to accomplish tasks and to build ourselves up, so that we can achieve more.

As much as the act of a divorce may look to tear you down, the unhappiness that you felt before and during the experiences was only a precursor for the happiness and functionality that you get to experience in future relationships, but that requires you to take that step and begin talking to people again.

Those that already have support on some level, it is vital to reach out to them and let them know that their help is appreciated. Even though the divorce experience can make you jaded at times, the reality of most people is that they care. Sometimes, the divorce experience can make people forget that, but it is true.

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