Experts note stress levels experienced during a divorce are equal to experiencing other significant losses, such as a death in the family. It is, after all, the loss of a marriage. A marriage that once had a vision of a future that had hopes and dreams.
It is an uncomfortable time, full of anxiety. Anxiety over the unknown. Where will I live? Will I have enough money? Will I have to go back to work? Will the children be ok? Will I be alone for the rest of my life? Will I ever be loved again? Anxiety affects both the leavor and the leavee, but can initially be worse for the leavee.
This stress and these worries affect an individual’s ability to take in and process information and to, therefore, make good decisions. Clarity comes with information, time and managed emotions. Clarity leads to better decision making.
Here are some steps to take to help you gain and maintain your clarity:
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Accept that this is an uncomfortable time and learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Be present in the discomfort, don’t run from it. It is what it is, it will pass, but you can’t outrun it. Breathe through it. Fear is anxiety without breath. Breathe!
- Gather information. Information is critical to making good decisions. While it may seem that there are no great options, you will have many decisions to make and making them based on facts and information is better than making decisions based on raw emotion. Get legal advice, financial advice and co-parenting advice. Get your advice from professionals, not friends or the internet.
- Take care of yourself. Eat, drink water, exercise, and sleep. Force yourself to eat something, preferably something healthy. Drink water, 6-8 glasses a day. Go for a walk, or hit the gym. Walk outside in the sunshine if possible. Do this first thing every morning, it will make you feel more in control of yourself and your day. Get some sleep. Use an app on your phone to help you fall asleep if necessary. Being rested will help with making good decisions. No one makes good decisions when they are exhausted, hungry, thirsty or upset. Use the reminder function on your phone to remind yourself to eat, drink water and go for a walk.
- Get help if you need it. It’s common to feel overwhelmed for a while. If after a few weeks you haven’t settled down enough to eat and sleep, see your doctor or a counselor. It’s common to need medication for a while.
- Phone a friend. Your best friend in your divorce is the one that keeps you centered and calm. If your upset and anxious, you need someone who can get you re-centered, not more stirred up. Pick your confidants carefully.
- Manage your emotions. Most people feel their emotions somewhere in their bodies. Their throat, their stomachs, a pounding in their chest. Figure out where you feel your emotions. Learn to recognize this feeling early on. Then figure out how to manage it. Take deep breaths, take a timeout, go for a walk, repeat a calming phrase. A counselor or divorce coach can help you learn skills to manage your emotions.
- Build a team. Surround yourself with a support team. You need a trusted friend or family member who keeps you calm and centered. An attorney for legal advice, one that will help you work towards a realistic settlement and not stir up a huge, long and expensive legal battle. A financial advisor who can help you understand and analyze your financial situation and options. A mental health professional to act as your coach, to educate you on co-parenting, help you identify your priorities and build skills to manage emotions. If you have children, your team may also include a mental health professional to work with your children and help you and your partner build a co-parenting plan.
Utilizing the Collaborative divorce process can help you find the civility and stability your family is longing for while staying away from court litigation.
The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego is a nonprofit, multi-disciplinary referral network of independent professionals of attorneys, mental health professionals and financial advisors working together to learn, practice, and promote Collaborative processes for problem solving and the peaceful resolution of family law issues, with an eye toward preserving the emotional, as well as the financial, assets of the family.
Contact us today to begin working with your personal Collaborative Divorce team to reach a consensual, respectful resolution that preserves and protects your family!
Note: This information is general in nature and should not be construed as legal/financial/tax/or medical advice. You should work with your attorney, financial, medical or tax professional to determine what will work best for your situation.