New Year, New Start

By Sharon Pastore, Main Line Family Law Center
New Year, New Start_ 4 Ways to Put Yourself First in 2020

4 Ways to put Yourself First in 2020

After the emotional toll of getting through your first holiday season as a recent divorcee, you may be wondering if this new year will be better than the last– will it get easier?


The good news is that though it may not necessarily get “easier,” you can trust that you will find a new normal. Even if you can’t see it clearly now, new traditions will form, and there are still plenty of memories to be made with the family and loved ones who have remained by your side.


This new year is a fresh start– a clean page where you can begin to take control of writing your own story. We’ve included a list below of four tips to help you put yourself first in 2020 and make this your best year yet!


Take Care of your mental health


After a divorce, you may feel as though you barely have time to clean your home or fold the laundry, let alone make time for your health– especially if you’re learning how to navigate life as a single parent. However, the best thing you can do for yourself right now is invest time and money into your health, especially your mental wellbeing. Just as you will find a new normal during the holidays, you will also find a new normal when it comes to clearing out time and setting aside money to put towards your overall well being.


The state of your mental health is more important during and after a divorce than ever. Divorce is undoubtedly an extremely emotional and stressful time, causing many to rely on unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking and/or overeating to cope. It’s also common to find that unresolved stress can make it difficult to control your emotions and, in turn, become reactive rather than proactive. This especially becomes a problem when you’re communicating with your ex, making matters worse and possibly putting unnecessary stress onto your children.


If you haven’t already, it is imperative to find a mental health counselor that can help you find healthy ways to cope with your divorce while you transition into your “new normal” in 2020. With the help of a mental health professional, you won’t have to feel as though you have to fall back on unhealthy habits to numb your emotions.


Focus on your physical health


In addition to counseling, exercising regularly and adopting a healthy diet will help to manage stress levels and increase feelings of content in an otherwise uncomfortable situation. Plus, the physical results of working out will give you an extra boost of confidence, an area of your life that may have taken a hit during this time.


Starting a new diet and exercise regimen can sometimes add even more stress to your life, so remember to start small. Make it easy on yourself by signing up for group fitness classes to take the guesswork out of what exercises you should be doing. This may be a good time to take up something like kickboxing where you can get in a great workout and also relieve stress. When it comes to your diet, invest in an easy-to-follow weight loss program that will not only teach you how to eat healthily but will encourage overall wellbeing by providing accountability. The start of the new year is a great time to start these habits, as many people make “getting healthy” one of their resolutions, which means you’ll have plenty of support to help you get started. Making your health a priority is an act of self-care, something that you need to do during this time to remember your worth.


Be kind to yourself


A divorce is a tough transition period for anybody. In such a trying time, all you can do is your best. Even if you do all the right things like pursuing counseling, taking care of your body, and keeping open communication with your loved ones, you may still slip-up. There might still be times where a plate of comfort food is much more appealing than a plate of veggies after a really stressful day. There may be times where no matter how much effort you’re putting in, you just need to shut your door and cry.


Be gentle with yourself during those moments. Feel everything you need to feel, and then give yourself permission to let it go. Always talk kindly about yourself and when you can, look in the mirror and point out all of the things you love about yourself on the inside and outside. Every day, on the good days and bad ones too, remind yourself of what you have overcome and let yourself be proud.


Strengthen your other relationships


During dark times, it may be your first instinct to deal with things on your own and shut the world out. But now is the time to reach out to your support system– your parents, your friends, your siblings– anyone dear to you that you may have put on the back burner during the years when your marriage was first priority. Use the new year as encouragement to reach out to these people and rekindle the relationships that may have been lost or broken.


If you have kids, actively communicate with them. If not properly handled, children of divorce can carry the pain and emptiness well into their adult years. This process is just as hard for them, if not harder. Show them that you’re there for them and be a pillar of strength. Do not shield them, but make sure that both you and your ex are not putting them in the middle of your mess.


Find a hobby


The end of your marriage provides a unique opportunity to pursue hobbies and activities you probably wouldn’t have made the time for while you were married. Not only does finding a hobby or activity spark joy and relieve stress, but it also provides the opportunity to meet new people who have no prejudgements of you and can get to know you outside the scope of your divorce.


Here are some hobby ideas for you to consider:


  • Join an improv class or local theater

  • Join a yoga studio

  • Take a cooking class

  • Join a running group

  • Develop a green thumb and study plants and gardening

  • Travel solo or with your kids

  • Take a painting or photography class

  • Sign up for a class at your local community college to study something you’ve always wanted to learn

  • Volunteer for nonprofits that you can stand behind like Big Brother Big Sister, the Salvation Army, local homeless shelters, or your community’s animal shelter


A divorce is truly a life-changing event and it can take some time for intense emotions to settle and for a new normal to take place. Even if it’s a slow change, taking the steps to turn this tough time into an opportunity for immense growth can change your life for the better in ways you would have never been able to imagine before. Use the new year as inspiration to start forming and strengthening these life-changing habits. Now is the time to put yourself first!


About the Author

Sharon Pastore, Main Line Family Law Center

Picture of Sharon Pastore, Main Line Family Law Center Sharon Pastore is Co-Founder of Main Line Family Law Center, which was established in 2012. She is on a mission to generate awareness, understanding and trust around mediation as a healthier option for separation and divorce well before a client's first consultation. She draws upon over 17 years in nonprofit, education and marketing to enable more spouses to "get to the table" and mediate successfully.

Topics: Divorce in PA, Your Wellbeing