Q: I’m a little embarrassed to admit this as an accomplished 47-year-old professional, but even though I am relieved to be finalizing our divorce, I think some of the stress I’m experiencing since our separation is actually ...loneliness. How can I get past that?

A: Every journey through divorce seems to come with a custom-fitted roller-coaster. And stress can be an annoying traveling companion. (While one’s spouse may have been an annoying traveling companion too, the adjustment to living without a spouse feels a little lonesome for everyone sometimes.) So whether chugging uphill, or freefalling through a canyon following separation, it’s wise to invite a few good friends along for the ride.

Over a lifetime, we weave a safety net of friends. They make us laugh, cry with us, remind us of our worth, and help us re-balance on days when everything feels new…and some of it feels lonely. Life’s transitions always find human beings reassessing what they value most. Trusted friends and loved ones carry us along. Some listen, some speak their own hearts. Sometimes there are no words. (And brace yourself: Some people will say incredibly stupid things.) The truth is some people don’t know what to say. They usually mean well, even when it comes out all wrong. Tip: If their advice is unwelcome, shift the conversation to focus on their own “stuff.” That usually helps.

We can forge new friendships at any stage of life. A new friend may sit at the next desk, or have kids our children’s ages. Some childhood friendships abide over decades, anchoring our lives. Friendships have a great deal to do with our long-term ability to cope. The degrees to which we love, laugh, connect, forgive, (or don’t,) impact our stress levels, overall wellness, and quality of life.

Nobel laureate Albert Schweitzer is quoted as having said, "In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” As you read that, you were likely either recalling a cherished friend, or perhaps you sensed a quiet longing for new friends to share this next chapter of your life. It’s never too late to discover comfort, humor, and mutual interests with others. Decades of studies confirm that people who maintain close, positive relationships tend to enjoy more robust coping skills and optimism, enhanced self-esteem, and report substantially less day-to-day stress. Many people could use some help creating and maintaining such relationships, so let’s take a look at your own healthy friendships, and see if the exercise below might be helpful:


1. Which friends calm and comfort you?
2. Which make you laugh out loud?
3. Which can you trust with your heart. . . and with your mistakes.
4. When can you next spend time with 1, 2 and 3? 5. This week, make a date to see each.

This month, strike up a conversation with at least one person you might like to know better. See how it goes!
[Copyright 2007 Susie Mantell. All rights reserved. Federal law prohibits use of this content in whole or part without written consent of Relax. . .Intuit (tm)L.L.C. Kindly email reprint requests to info at relaxintuit.com ]

Enjoy more of Susie Mantell's stress-relief tips, and order her award-winning stress-relief audiobook, "Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace" at:www.relaxintuit.com Susie Mantell's work intended as an adjunct to, not a substitute for, professional health care.

Author's Bio: 

Award-winning stress-relief expert Susie Mantell’s exquisitely soothing relaxation CD, “Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace,” is clinically approved to soothe layer-after-layer of Stress and Sleeplessness, Depression, Anxiety, Grief, Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, Caregiver Stress, Cancer, Pain, P.T.S.D., Divorce, and Addictive Disease. Featured by The Los Angeles Times, ABC, NBC, CBS TV, Town & Country, The American Pain Society Hazelden and Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation, listeners include The Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and The Betty Ford Center. Mantell has facilitated thousands in relieving health-related, work-related, chronic or traumatic stress, customizing stress-reduction for Fortune 500 companies, The Arthritis Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, Canyon Ranch Medical, Health & Healing Dept. and The National Conference on Loss. Her multi-sensory, mind-body techniques appear in syndicated media, corporate newsletters, and publications for medical professionals. Susie Mantell's website: relaxintuit.com