21/10/2014 08:32 BST | Updated 21/12/2014 05:59 GMT

Making Friends After Divorce and Separation

In this fast moving world, divorce and separation are commonplace. 42% of us now get divorced and many of us have gone through a separation at some point in our lives.

But even though divorce and separation are common, it is still a shock. After many years of bringing up a family, operating as a couple, sharing responsibilities, it is quite a shock to suddenly be on your own, with all the insecurities and unknowns that this brings. It may be a time of great relief, an escape from a difficult relationship, or it may be a time of disbelief that you have ended up in this situation after so many years of what you believed to be a stable relationship.

However you feel, there is no doubt about it, divorce and separation causes great upheaval and is likely to be a bewildering and worrying time for you. There are all the practical issues to sort out - the finances, the house, the splitting up of the worldly goods. There is the emotional side to contend with - support of the kids and how you are going to adjust to life on your own. Through all this upheaval it is easy to ignore your own needs.

Until this point you might have had a ready-made social life. You may have been a couple hanging out with other couples. Suddenly that social scene turns upside down. You might feel that you don't 'fit in' so well, as the talk still revolves around what to do as a pair. You may feel ready to re-assess your life and decide what route you alone would like to take. You've got lots of ideas, but where do you go from here? How do you go about transforming the dreams into reality and broadening your social circle?

Some of you will be happy to get out there, to throw yourself into every opportunity, to be biting at the bit to pursue your new life. Others, however, may find it more difficult. You may have lost confidence over the years and forgotten what it is like to operate as a single person. You may feel nervous about pushing yourself forward and taking up new hobbies.

What you need is a plan. A plan will help you to work out what to do next. And once you have a plan, you can begin to research how to achieve it. You may fancy joining a new club, volunteering at the local homeless centre or changing career. You may want to travel the world or learn to play tennis. Whatever it is, put it in your plan and split the plan into aims for the next week, next month, next year, next five years. Some ambitions will be more realistic than others and some will cost money and time. But if you have an aim, a dream that you want to fulfil, you can begin to take small steps towards achieving it.

And don't be fearful. It can be scary doing things on your own. If you are not careful, you can put things off and stay at home. But in reality, people are usually friendly and welcoming. And the more you do, the more you'll have to talk about. Ask questions, show interest, and before long you will have a whole new set of friends to share your life with.