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Don't let your divorce impact your health

If your family law attorney tells you to get back to the gym, don't be offended. He or she isn't necessarily suggesting that you need to lose weight. Divorce attorneys understand the importance of people taking care of themselves both physically and emotionally during a divorce. That's probably why he or she keeps sending you coupons for a massage at the local spa as well.

If your attorney isn't as maternal or paternal as that, take the initiative to take care of yourself. One researcher who has studied the long-term impacts of a divorce on people's health found that the stress alone can accelerate the changes in the body that lead to heart disease. One study found that people who have lost a spouse, either through divorce or death, are 20 percent more likely to suffer from conditions like cancer and diabetes in addition to heart disease.

Even if you had healthy habits prior to the divorce, it's easy to let them slide. Following are some things that anyone can do to help come out of a divorce healthy:

-- Exercise. You don't have to join a gym (although it's a great way to meet new people). Take a daily walk or bike ride. Do yoga. Join a dance class. Exercise produces chemicals called endorphins in your brain that literally make you feel better. If you have a tough time motivating yourself to stick to an exercise plan, get a workout buddy. You can hold each other accountable.

-- Get some sunshine. That doesn't mean baking out in the sun for hours. Just get outside in the sun every day for a bit. Sunshine increases the serotonin (another mood booster) in your brain and also provides vitamin D.

-- Watch what you eat. When we're unhappy or stressed, we often eat too much or not at all. Divorce lawyers have seen some clients gain substantial amounts or weight and others wither away to skeletons. Keep healthy foods in the house and eat regular meals. This will decrease the urge to binge. If you simply can't bring yourself to eat, drink protein shakes, green juices and smoothies to make sure that you're getting necessary nutrients.

Remember that your divorce isn't the end of your life. It's the beginning of a new chapter. You want to enter that chapter in as good a shape mentally and physically as possible.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "How to Stay Healthy During a Divorce," Kirstin Fawcett, accessed July 05, 2016

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