All life changes, even the positive ones, cause a measurable amount of stress. Therefore, stress during divorce is inevitable. Psychology Today developed a Divorce Stress Scale based on the Holmes-Rahe Scale. Points are assigned to stressors and your score indicates your likelihood of becoming physically ill:
- Below 300 – moderate chance of sickness
- Between 301 and 600 – high likelihood of illness
- 601 – 999 – an extremely high risk of illness
- 1000 or more – get to your doctor now
Take the First Steps to Handle Stress During Divorce
Perhaps you’re considering divorce, or perhaps your partner wants a divorce and you didn’t have a clue how they felt. Your first step in managing stress during a divorce is to acknowledge first that the stress will be there and then to ask for help. You don’t have to go through this alone. Your friends and your family care about you and their emotional support is so important. Their advice? Not so much. Without meaning to, they may place pressure on you and impose their own expectations of what you “should do” or “are entitled to,” which may increase your own stress during the divorce. If you are feeling the stress of divorce, consider professional counseling, with or without your partner.
You can also help to manage your levels of stress by learning more about the divorce process. There are several ways to go about getting divorced. Depending on your needs as an individual and as a family, one may be better than another. If communicating as a family and working together through the divorce is important, you may want to consider collaborative process an alternative to a traditional litigated divorce.
Challenging Stress During Divorce
Don’t let the daily sources of stress build up. If you face each one as it arises, you will be better able to avoid getting overwhelmed. Other methods of handling stress during a divorce can include:
- Allow yourself to make mistakes. Often, your biggest critic is you. This is a good time in your life to learn to forgive yourself.
- Find a creative outlet – If you don’t have a hobby, make time for something that involves focus. Whether you learn to knit or to view the world through a camera lens, you’re relieving some of the stress during divorce.
- Exercise – You’ll feel better physically and emotionally, especially with cardiovascular workouts.
- Have faith things will work out. It may feel like the world is out to get you. Trust that you not only have a future, it’s going to be a good one.
Communication is Key in Collaborative Divorce
Both of you agree you don’t want courtroom drama. You also want to structure your new lives – and your kids’ new lives – for the better. For couples like you, a collaborative divorce is a logical option. One of the most important facets of collaborative divorce is effective communication. It’s a life skill we can learn and it can minimize stress during divorce.
A communications coach is part of the collaborative divorce team that also includes legal and financial professionals. Your communications coach will guide you and help you develop strategies to improve your coping and communication. You’ll soon learn to speak to each other in ways that reduce stress during divorce. Some of these communication strategies may include:
- Avoid communicating when you’re upset. Speak when you’ve calmed down.
- Avoid social media; it’s a major cause of stress during divorce. If you use social media, avoid posting anything about your ex or your divorce.
- Establish preferred modes of communication: phone, text messages, or email. Discuss frequency of contact.
- Try to speak to your partner in a cordial, civil tone. Avoid shouting. When tempers begin to escalate, table the discussion.
- Yes, you both have emotional baggage from your marriage. Concentrate on the present and the future – not on the past. As you develop productive solutions, both of you will begin to reduce stress during divorce.
- You don’t have to respond to every communication from your spouse. Ignore trivial issues that can lead to conflicts.
Another way to manage stress during the divorce process is to learn more about the professionals affiliated with Best Legal Choices. Contact us to learn more about your options and how to make the best decision for your family.