By Michelle Howe, health enews, a news service from Advocate Health Care
While it’s not news that divorce is a choice for many couples, research reveals the time of year may actually play a role in the life-changing decision.
In fact, sociologists from the University of Washington analyzed divorce filings in Washington State between 2001 and 2015 and found divorces consistently peaked after winter and summer holidays.
“For many, there are specific times during the year that have a major impact on decisions and behaviors,” says Dr. Shastri Swaminathan, a psychiatrist with Advocate Medical Group and chair of the department of psychiatry at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “These times may be based on the weather itself or certain dates that hold significance to them, such as holidays, an anniversary or the loss of a loved one.”
The research suggests there is an influx of filings during March and August, as couples may see the holidays as both an inappropriate time to split and as a time to mend the relationship.
“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” researcher Julie Brines said in a news release. “They represent periods in the year when there’s the anticipation or the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start, something different, a transition into a new period of life. It’s like an optimism cycle, in a sense.”
However, it is also noted that holidays can be emotionally charged and amplify marital issues.
No matter the time of year, Dr. Swaminathan offers these tips for approaching a divorce in a healthy way:
- Create a support system: During a divorce, you may feel lonely. This is a very important time to reach out to your close family and friends who can provide emotional support. You may also want to look into joining a local support group.
- Take care of you: This is often overlooked during the divorce process. Create a daily plan and make it a point to do things such as eat healthy, exercise and get enough sleep. Take some ‘me’ time and enjoy a massage, get a pedicure, read a book or look into new hobbies.
- Get the help you need: Divorce involves many life-altering changes. It’s important to have self-awareness and notice if you are feeling depressed, isolated and just not yourself. If this is the case, it may be time to seek help from a professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker.
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