If you are in a high conflict divorce, the stress you are under is enormous. You could be experiencing sleepless nights, feeling irritable or angry and snapping at the people you love, intense sadness or just plain depressed. All of these emotions are normal under the circumstances. There are a few things you can do to help yourself feel better and more able to cope.
- Take a few deep breaths; particularly if you are angry. Three or four slow and calming breaths will help the intensity of the emotion pass and will give your brain oxygen to help you think.
- Talk to yourself. If you are out in public put your phone to your ear so folks won’t think you’re crazy and tell yourself to “Calm down”, “these are just feelings and I have the power to change them”, “things will get better”, “millions of other people have gotten through this and I can too”. You can also write in a journal or just on a scrap of paper. The point of the exercise is to slow down and regain control of your emotions, again so that you can think clearly.
- Do something that takes a lot of energy; go for a run or scrub the kitchen floor. A friend of mine split wood whenever he felt stressed. He had a lot of fire wood by the end of his divorce.
- Change what you are doing. Read a book, walk the dog, bake some cookies, whatever works, just do it. Changing focus will help to put the anxiety and stress on the back burner and will actually accomplish something. Make a list of things that bring you happiness and post it where you can see it and, when things get rough, do something on your list.
- Journal – write things down. You can use an actual journal or the computer. Writing down your thoughts help you process them and it gets them out of you. When something is on paper it becomes real and you can deal with it.
- Focus on gratitude. (This is my favorite!!!) When you focus on what you are grateful for it sets your mind on the positive things in life and pushes out the negative thoughts. Finding things to be grateful for can be difficult at first. Here are some ideas to get you going;
- Your children, parents, brothers and sisters
- Your friends
- Your car, even though it may be 10 years old and on its last legs.
- Your feather pillow that is so comfortable
- Your favorite sweater or shoes
- Your morning cup of tea or coffee
- Chocolate ice cream
- Anything that brings you joy
You are in control of how you feel and you can change your thoughts with some of these ideas. When you cannot cope, focus on something else. Shifting your emotions will make you feel better and when you feel better you can deal with your situation in a more positive way.
As you prepare for, or go through, your divorce you need to recognize that your emotions, and how you control them, will make a big difference in how you experience your situation. When your emotions get the best of you, you are not able to make good decisions. So be conscious of how you are feeling before you make any choices.