1. Protect the children. Children have a deep psychological need to think well of BOTH parents. Avoid letting them hear you put down or say bad things about the other parent, regardless of how justified you feel in saying these things.
2. Depend on the experts. Well- meaning friends and family will give you legal and psychological advice; that’s not a good source. Thank them for their concern and move on.
3. Avoid other drastic life changes. Make your life as stable as possible right now. Try to keep sleeping and eating on a schedule. See your doctor and/or counselor immediately if these are disrupted for more than a week or so-depression and anxiety may take hold if basic needs are ignored.
4. Take a Divorce Parenting class as soon as possible. When I taught this class, the comment I heard most often was, “why didn’t someone tell me to take this sooner?” You will find help and support there. Ask your attorney for more information.
5. Maintain professionalism at work. It is natural for your focus to be disrupted, but strictly limit the amount of time you spend on email or conversation about your divorce.
6. Lay it down sometimes. Take a break and play with your kids. Go see a funny movie. Let your mind rest. If the worries persist, promise yourself you will go back to worrying about the issues later that day, then return to the fun.
7. Limit contact with your ex-spouse. You are not obligated to endure any conversations that your attorney does not require of you. Make your contact brief and limited only to necessary details of custody issues.
8. Observe your breathing. Under stress, our breathing often becomes shallow. This leads our muscles to tense up and puts the whole body on constant alert. Put a sticker or an object around your workplace and use it as a reminder to breathe deeply.
9. Stand up for yourself. It’s time to say “I need, I feel” or “no, I can’t do that.” Maybe this is new behavior for you. A counselor who has been specifically trained in divorce (not marital) counseling can teach you how to detach and communicate in a civil manner that protects the dignity and rights of both parties.
10. Finally, remember: this WILL pass. You are currently experiencing one of the hardest life experiences there is. Keep your focus firmly on the hope of a peaceful outcome and take care of yourself in the meantime.
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