Whether your getting a divorce in Colorado or anywhere else, the stress can be overwhelming.  Here’s one way to minimize it.

Everyone knows that getting a divorce is high on the list of stressful things in life.  But just how high is it?

The Statistics

According to a study published in the New York Times more than 35 years ago, the stress of divorce can have a “longer-lasting emotional and physical toll on the former spouses than virtually any other life stress, including widowhood.”[1]  That’s right, the stress of divorce can be worse than a loved spouse dying.  And this more than quarter century old study is backed up by more current research.

For example, in 2012, one study reported that “Marital separation and divorce are associated with increased risk for early death, and the magnitude of this association rivals that of many well-established public health factors.”[2]  Further, a 2015 study showed that “[t]he experience of separation or divorce confers risk for poor health outcomes, including a 23% higher mortality rate.”[3]  Indeed, looking to the established Holmes and Rahe’s stress scale, divorce is second on the list of 43 most stressful life events.[4]  Accordingly, regardless of which study one relies on, it is clear that the perceived stress of divorce is back up by decades of research.  Put simply, you are not alone – divorce critically affects virtually everyone who experiences it.

The Best Tool for the Stress of Divorce

While there are many tools for minimizing the stress of divorce, meditation is becoming known as one of the more effective.  Now, before you close this blog thinking meditation is some hippy talk – you should know that meditation has become so scientifically proven that the military’s special forces are using it.[5]  What is so scientific about it?  Put simply, meditation has been proven to re-wire the brain, making new neural connections.[6]  This alone is impressive because the scientific community previously believed that the adult brain could not generate new neural connections.[7]

More Recent Studies

But you may be asking – so what?  How do new neurons help deal with depression and stress?  That’s a good question.  And there are several clinical studies and meta-analyses showing the effectiveness of meditation in these areas.

A study completed in March 2014 by Johns Hopkins University showed that meditation has the same effect on depression as anti-depressant prescription drugs.  Another study showed that even short-term meditation (8 weeks) has effects which can last for years.[8]  And other studies show that meditation preserves brain tissue as we age, slows the brains default mode network (which lessens unhappiness), and reduces social anxiety.  In short, there is a substantial amount of research to show meditation is no longer just for hippies.

But where do I start?

This is the $50,000 question.  While there are numerous forms of meditation, most of the research has been directed at what is called “mindful” meditation.  This is a form of meditation in which you “bring[] [your] complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.”  One doctor who champions this form of meditation is a former professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, John Kabat-Zinn.[9]  A review of his books or his online information would give a good introduction to this form of meditation.  Additionally, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) provides free guided meditations you can try and has produced free videos which further explain this form of meditation.

Conclusion

If you are experience the stress of a divorce, give the above studies and resources some consideration.  If you need assistance with the legal side of your divorce in Colorado, please give my law firm a call.  All initial consultations are free of charge.

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[1] New York Times, December 13, 1983.

[2] Soc Personal Psychol Compass. 2012 Dec 1; 6(12): 905–919.

[3] Psychosomatic Medicine, April 2015 – Volume 77 – Issue 3 – p 227–236

[4] See https://www.dartmouth.edu/~eap/library/lifechangestresstest.pdf; The Daily Beast, May 12, 2014.

[5] Washington Post, December 5, 2012; Mindfulness in Action: Discovering How U.S. Navy SEALs Build Capacity for Mindfulness in High-Reliability Organizations (HROs).

[6] See also, Neuroplasticity and Meditation, IEEE Signal Process Mag. 2008 Jan 1; 25(1): 176–174; Can you grow new brain cells?, Harvard  Men’s Health Watch, Sept 2016; Lazar Lab Research; What Does Mindfulness do to Your Brain?, Scientific American, June 12, 2014; Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density, Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30; 191(1): 36–43.

[7] TEDTalk of Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret, June 2015.

[8] See also, Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 9, Issue 6, 1 June 2014, Pages 751–759.

[9] I have no affiliation with Zinn.


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