Divorce is one of the most emotionally demanding life transitions you'll ever encounter. One big pitfall is getting preoccupied and consumed with making sure everyone else is taken care of first. Some divorcees adopt a martyr role as they navigate the new waters of their life. "Yes, my life is tough right now but I'll just soldier on, even if I'm miserable and not getting enough sleep."

Self-care may seem like a theoretical luxury -- after all, who's got the time when you're dealing with a maelstrom of issues that demand your attention? Why you've got to handle the finances, the lawyers, in many cases the children, the ex, and the social repercussions of your split. You can feel like you don't have time to breathe, let alone deal with any anger or grief you're feeling because a major relationship has ended.

If you are trying to capture a medal for being a self-sacrificing martyr, I have some news for you. There are no medals for martyrs. The International Olympic Committee is not adding it to the event list anytime soon. Nobody, particularly not your children, will come to you at some point in the future and say, "I appreciate how much you sacrificed your own health and well-being for us -- and how you let us know about it all along the way!" Divorce summons all of your internal resources, and at this point in time, your commitment to self-care will never be more tested or more needed.

You may be in training for the martyr medal if you have difficulty delegating to others. You believe you must keep a stiff upper lip at all costs and bottle up your emotions so others don't know how you're truly feeling. Another clue is that you feel unappreciated. You generally feel that people take you for granted. You think that if you do it all yourself and don't complain, one day somebody will notice your efforts and thank you.

The road to martyrdom is difficult, lonely, and unfulfilling. One key to thriving after divorce is to put self-care at the top of your priority list. Yes, I said the top. After all, if you are feeling depleted and exhausted you are not going to be of much assistance to anyone else. You must be aware of your own needs and take responsibility for taking care of yourself. Your commitment to self-care is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself -- and your children and loved ones. Here are some strategies to get the ball rolling.

1. Give Yourself Five Minutes a Day
Self-care doesn't have to be big, fancy, expensive, or time consuming. Take at least five uninterrupted minutes each day to nurture yourself. Breathe consciously, give your feet a rub, call a dear friend, go for a walk, or belt out a tune with your favorite musician. Give yourself the gift and pleasure of indulging your heart's desire or giving yourself your time, attention, and love. Surely you deserve that.

2. Find Emotional Support
Moving through divorce is like peeling an onion. Just when you think you've finished and are "over it," often something happens that sets you back emotionally and lets you see there's yet another layer for you to process. Find appropriate emotional support. It may be a close friend or a divorce coach, therapist or social worker. There are a growing number of online divorce support resources as well. Check out your local social service agency that may offer educational programs or seminars that can be informative not only for you, but for your former partner and children as well.

3. Delegate as much as Possible
Are there any responsibilities you have now that you can delegate or defer in order to give yourself some time off? Add names to your babysitter and trades people lists. Hire neighborhood kids to help with yard work. Make a list of people you could call in to help out when you need it.

4. Appreciate Yourself
A big reason people become martyrs is because they are really seeking acknowledgement and appreciation. By "doing it all" martyrs hope that someday someone will come to them and say, "Thanks for the great job you're doing!" That acknowledgement is available to you 24/7 if you acknowledge yourself. Acknowledgement is a healing balm to our soul, letting us know that we are doing the best we can with the tools we have.

5. Defer
There may be some items on your list that you do want to accomplish, but not just yet. Perhaps you lack some information. Maybe it"s not time-sensitive and can be scheduled forward in time. Put some realistic date next to each item where you’ll come back and review it again. Is there some aspect of this project you can delegate to someone to get you the information you need so that you can more easily complete it?

6. Be A Role Model For Your Children
Have you noticed that children will do what you do, not what you say? To those of you who are parents, what kind of lesson do you want your children to learn if you are perpetually self-sacrificing? The parent going for the martyr medal teaches his or her children to ignore their own needs and sacrifice themselves for others, even to the point of their own detriment. How about choosing to be a real and authentic human being? You can model to your children how to handle all of their emotions, not just the socially acceptable ones.

Author's Bio: 

Author and spiritual divorce coach, Carolyn B. Ellis, founded Thrive After Divorce, Inc. to help separated and divorced individuals improve relationships, increase self-confidence and save time and heartache. She is the award-winning author of the best-selling The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive After Divorce. If you want simple life-changing tips for single parenting, visit http://www.thriveafterdivorce.com now to receive a FREE report.

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