Monday 27 March 2017

A family law solicitor's guide to self-care during divorce

When you go through a divorce, it becomes easy to spread yourself too thin and forget about yourself. If you’re wondering about your kids, your ex, your parents, your friends, your work, or really anyone who isn’t you, then it’s time to stop. When you start looking after yourself, looking after other people won’t be an effort anymore. It will happen naturally and be more genuine, leaving everyone with more energy and positive feelings at the end of it.

As divorce lawyers in London, we see countless men and women come through our doors who are harried, stressed and emotionally exhausted. Living in London is stressful enough, without the ultimate stress and emotional hardship of a divorce. You may wonder how we’re qualified to advise people about what to do right, when we make our living from what’s gone wrong, but the reality is we see how many people aren’t taking care of themselves. Divorce solicitors in London have countless experiences of dealing with distressed individuals, and we’re experts in keeping a calm and professional demeanor while encouraging self-care.

This has such a knock-on aspect on every area of their life, leading to less rational decision making, further breakdown in relationships and a tougher time for the kids — as well as just being unhealthy for you. It’s time to take charge and take care of yourself. Here’s our advice for how — and why — to go about self-care during your divorce.

Make time for a therapist — and keep your friends close
Sharing with those who are close to you is great, but when you give nothing but negative energy to your conversations, that starts to take its toll. Try to limit the amount of time you spend talking about your divorce and save it for your therapy sessions, where your therapist will help you find solutions to your emotions, not just indulge your complaints. Studies have shown that complaining is damaging to your health, your productivity and your life in general. Our friends are there to support us; that’s why they’re our friends, so they’re unlikely to be completely straight with you. 

Far from being cathartic, being bitter is actually allowing your ex to continue to hurt you, by causing harm to both you and those around you. Your friendships, and the time you spend with those you love, all contributes towards rebuilding your emotional energy and your personality as an individual, without your ex. 

It’s time to invest in rediscovering hobbies, laughter and fun. If you’re tempted to complain about your ex when you meet up with your friends, try doing activities together that will distract you instead. Go hiking in the country, take up dancing, or go to an evening class together. Find things that make you happy, rather than spending time focussing on the negatives. If you haven’t yet found a good therapist, your London divorce lawyer might be able to recommend one to you. 

Looking after your kids is an investment in looking after you
Just like not being bitter in front of your friends is important, not being bitter around your children is even more so. Whatever your other half has done, it’s not your children’s problem. Unless they’re abusive, which is a different situation, your ex is still a loving parent for your child, first and foremost. Maintaining that relationship should be encouraged.

Damaging the relationship between a child and one of their parents out of spite is termed parental alienation syndrome. If you’re worried that you’re not taking enough time to help your children through divorce, ask yourself some crucial questions that will help to establish if you’re doing everything you can to help them. This will reduce how much you worry and also help your child around the home, reducing the instances of them acting out and making life harder for you, as a result of repressed emotions. 

As soon as you and your spouse have separated, establish child care arrangements with the help of your divorce solicitors in London. This will give your children quality time with both their parents in a less stressful environment than the family home, with the tension caused by both of you sharing a room. It’s also worth talking to your child’s school — as a couple, if possible — to make sure they know the situation and are comfortable around the topic. It’s not uncommon for children to act out at school when their parents are separating, so it’s important that your school has a little more tolerance and understanding than usual.

Don’t stretch yourself too thin; it’s time to rediscover ‘Me’ time
There’s a quote from motivational author Louise L. Hay which goes: “You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” This is never more true than during divorce, when it’s easy to shoulder a lot of blame and criticism. While it’s by no means an ideal situation, there are many positives which can come from divorce. You can take up the hobbies you lost time for, or indulge in a little selfishness again: watching that Netflix series your ex hated, staying out late when your kids are staying at their other parent’s, and having guests around more often. 

These factors may seem small, but in the early days, they are what will get you through. Sometimes, you’ll find that you can be friends with your ex: the dissolution of your marriage will have removed the toxicity. For this to work, it will help if you’ve signed a prenup with the help of London divorce lawyers before you even walked down the aisle, let alone into the courtroom to end things. A prenup is like insurance against whatever might happen. It helps divide things easily when you get divorced — because the prenup was created when you were happy and loving, not bitter and angry.

If you’re finding that you’re stressed and feeling stretched beyond your capacity, reclaim an hour in the day that’s purely yours to do something you didn’t have time for before. If necessary, rethink your child care arrangements with your ex, or ask for help from your friends. Take up a yoga class, or start a new Netflix series. It’s never been more important to take out time from your daily life to rediscover the joy of your own company.

The benefits of a top London divorce lawyer go beyond the courtroom
The first stage in any divorce, once it’s decided, is finding the best divorce lawyers in London for you. The majority of London divorce lawyers offer a free consultation, during which you can make sure you have a rapport and are comfortable telling them the intimate details of your life which might aid and abet your case. If you hide things from your divorce solicitor in London, it could come back during a court case and cost you dearly.

Most importantly, the best divorce lawyers will remove a lot of your stress, which is a vital part of self-care. If you have children, your London divorce lawyers will be able to sort out child care arrangements which are fair to both you and your spouse, and help get you the amount of time you want with your child. They will also help you figure out what’s in your child’s best interests. 

If you find one of the best divorce lawyers in London for you, then the benefits to your emotional health will last far longer than your divorce proceedings. You will find yourself financially, legally and emotionally better off than you might do otherwise.

If you’re putting off looking after yourself until tomorrow, then put down what you’re doing and start taking care of yourself now. If you’re feeling strong physically and emotionally, then your divorce will be considerably easier — and that has to come from you. No one is capable of taking care of you as much as you yourself. 

* Guest post *

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