Don’t let divorce strain your body

The strain of divorce or the end of a long-standing relationship can have an impact on even the healthiest of individuals.

And when it comes to understanding the effects that stress puts on bodies, Helen O’Brien is something of an expert.

Helen, whose social media handle #colonicsqueen gives away a little about her expertise, is a Digestive Health Practitioner and founder of The Complete Health Clinic at Manchester’s Lowry Hotel.

Since waving goodbye to her career in sales and marketing for a new life sorting out our internal plumbing she has helped out literally thousands of clients.

Bodies need an MOT

Helen said: “I always wanted to go into nursing so when the time came I looked at various therapies. We’ve always been bottom focussed in our family so this seemed ideal.”

People seeking her help come from all walks of life, aged 18-80, and Helen realises that for virtually every one the thought of that first treatment can be nerve-wracking.

She said: “We’re all human, so there’s no need for embarrassment. Once people realise that they relax – we end up talking about all sorts.

“Our bodies are like engines. They need fuel and water and when the exhaust pipe is blocked that’s a problem. Just like all engines our bodies need an MoT to keep us running well.”

Throughout her 14 years, Helen has helped countless people going through personal traumas, including the end of a relationship.

So how does she suggest overcoming stress or at least dealing with it better?

First of all it’s important not to over commit or set too many tasks as this may be overwhelming. You may be better just committing to these five steps which can soon become daily habits.

Get those zzz’s

Yes, sleep. It’s under-rated and very important. Make sure you get 7-9 hours sleep as proper rest is crucial for your body and your mind to regenerate.
It might help to prepare to sleep i.e. a warm bath or a warm, non-stimulating drink such as herbal tea (there are ones on the market designed especially for sleep).
Even if you are feeling really stressed about the latest developments in your divorce and can’t sleep, just lying in a dark room can help. I use a meditation technique that really helps me and there are lots available such as Calm or Headspace…choose one you like.

Support your tummy!

Your digestion system working efficiently is absolutely vital for proper nutrient absorption and can also help eradicate the symptoms of stress-induced gastric problems.
Eating right is crucial as when we get stressed we get into the habit of missing meals and also eating on the go or eating nutrient poor, fast and processed foods. This can tax our bodies and bring on indigestion and gut issues.
If a routine has been broken by a relationship breakdown then we may not want to put the time and effort into cooking a meal-for-one from scratch – but it’s important we do.

Divorce strain: Eat healthily to help your gut
Preparation and planning is key here to make the time to cook real foods instead of consuming fast foods and processed junk laden with hidden nasties and oodles of sugar! Quick wins such as sautéing a chicken breast or popping it in the oven and getting a prepared salad or some vegetables you can roast or stir-fry.
Many people during times of stress can be challenged with low digestive enzymes. If you are struggling with indigestion or heartburn then take some digestive enzymes which will help you absorb nutrients better.
Support your friendly gut flora as stress takes a tremendous strain on your gut microbes, which will enable you to have a better immune function and less gas bloating and constipation.
You can either take an oral probiotic, I use Optibac Every Day, or take it via foods such as kefir; natural live organic yogurt; kombucha, which is a lovely drink, or fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi.


This is really important and that doesn’t mean you need to sign up to a triathlon or marathon. Just getting out and going for a brisk walk and getting fresh air to clear your head can be enough.
We get so caught up in life we forget to just take in fresh air. Break that cycle and take time away from your daily issues. Exercise releases endorphins which make you happy and of course keeps you fit 😊.


If you don’t have one already why not take up a regular hobby or do things that you enjoy like going to the cinema, theatre, reading or maybe a dance class. Or try something you have always fancied doing but weren’t able to. In addition, if you can do a hobby that helps you socialise with others then you can have that opportunity to meet new faces, helping you move on with life.

Gratitude Journal

This is something that I really swear by…especially good to look at if you have a little blue day. Get a really lovely notebook and just write in three things that you are grateful for each day – family, friends, pets, work.
It could be anything that made you smile. It could be something as simple as sitting and having a cup of coffee in a lovely cup.
Don’t be too hard on yourself…remember in time this day will be six months from now. Whatever challenges you are facing everything can and will change.

  • You’ve overcome challenges before
  • Life’s a learning experience
  • Not getting what you want can be a blessing
  • Allow yourself to have some fun
  • Being kind to yourself is the best medicine
  • Other people’s negativity isn’t worth worrying about – especially a former partner’s
  • And there is always, always, always something to be thankful for…


Helen O’Brien is a Digestive Health Practitioner and can be found on Facebook at The Complete Health Clinic and Twitter @CHClinicuk. Her website contains a wealth of information on how we can look after our gut.