Separation and divorce are known to be two of life’s most stressful events. Here are our top tips to reduce stress and animosity on relationship breakdown:

Reflect on how you are feeling

When someone close to you dies, it’s generally accepted that there are five stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Some psychiatrists say that the emotional stages of a relationship breakdown are the same. Understanding how you are feeling will encourage you to consider the impact on your ex or children and the emotion involved in decision making.

Taking you’re own feelings into consideration can help to reduce stress and animosity on relationship breakdown.

Put your children first

Children undoubtedly cope better with a separation when their parents are not in conflict and can see a joined-up approach to their parenting. This continues into adulthood and their life events such as graduations, family events – perhaps even their own weddings.

For a free resource containing information, advice, and support to help parents journey through separation, divorce and beyond we recommend Resolution’s ‘Parenting Through Separation Guide’. You can download a copy of the guide here Parenting Through Separation Guide.

Prioritise your mental health and wellbeing

Making your wellbeing a priority can help you cope with the pressures a separation can bring and help you to move on with your life more easily. Being under pressure is a normal part of life, but during a separation that pressure may escalate to become stress because your normal life has changed. If your stress becomes overwhelming you may start to feel irritable, impatient, anxious, afraid, lonely or depressed. You may find your mind racing and that you’re unable to switch off, you may be tired, uninterested in life, worried about your health, and in the worst case you may have suicidal feelings.

  • Identify your triggers. Working out what triggers your feelings will help you anticipate when you are likely to feel most stressed and will help you look at ways of reducing the pressure on you. This might involve practical solutions as well as mindfulness. For example, you may find preparing lists or setting achievable tasks to complete each day will help you feel in control, or you may find changing your routine helps. 
  • Build your support network. Talk to friends and family and make an effort to go out socially. Don’t be afraid to cut loose people who have a negative impact on you. Talk to your line manager or HR manager at work and let them know what is going on in your personal life. 
  • Look after your physical health. Consider making some lifestyle changes and develop your interests and hobbies. Eat healthily, be physically active and prioritise sleep. Give yourself time to relax and take a break. 
  • Ask for professional support
    • Your GP will be able to help you access support and treatments.  
    • Relationship counselling: Attending counselling as a couple to help you find the way forward. 
    • Family counselling: Attending as a couple and with the children to help you all find a way forward. 
    • Children and young people’s counselling: Counselling for any child or young person having problems finding a way forward.
    • Life coaching: Providing support and guidance to help you achieve your goals.
  • Think before you respond or post on social media and don’t go to war. Give yourself time and space to reflect before reacting to something said or done which you might later regret. 

Don’t ask friends and family to take sides and as hard as it sometimes can be don’t make derogatory comments about the other parent in front of the children. Presenting a united front will help them cope better with your change in circumstances.

Find the right lawyer

A good lawyer will be able to help you manage expectations and offer practical as well as much needed legal expertise. Not knowing what your options are and next steps is stressful. Your lawyer will dispel any myths or uncertainties you have about your separation and help you focus on what is important to you. 

Try alternatives to court

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to the different ways people can resolve disputes without going to court. A combination of ADR processes can be used during your dispute, or they can be used alongside litigation. Court proceedings are likely to be much more stressful and costly than ADR. Ask your lawyer for help in deciding which alternative to court might work best for you, and don’t rule out conducting your own negotiations – with your lawyers supporting in the background. 

At Watson Morris Family Law we offer technical expertise combined with a holistic and practical approach which will help you implement the above tips. Some if not all of these tips might seem unrealistic at a time when life has become unrecognisable and the future is uncertain, but we shall work with you to improve an often difficult situation. 

To discuss how Watson Morris Family Law might be able to help you minimise the stress on relationship breakdown fill out out contact form below.

Written by Caroline Watson

October 29, 2022

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