In this edition of Stowe guests, we are joined by Juliet Thornton, Director at Headspace Leeds Limited.
Juliet is a qualified psychotherapist with extensive experience of working with clients going through divorce and separation, family issues, emotional abuse, affairs, and betrayals.
Today, she joins us on the blog to look at how to take care of yourself when going through a divorce or relationship breakdown.
Practical tips and coping strategies
Whether you have made the decision to separate/divorce or it is the last place you expected or wanted to be; the process involved and adjustment to change can be painful and difficult.
Feelings & emotions
Separation and divorce can leave you feeling frightened about the future and changes in the life you know and are used to.
You may experience many different feelings and emotions:
Anxiety, low mood and depression, pain, anger, grief, sadness, despair, feeling lost, stuck, vengeful, frustrated, isolated, alone, hopeless, helpless, guilt, shame.
You may also feel betrayed, let down, powerless, the victim, bullied, coerced, but possibly relieved and excited about the future.
You might experience anxiety and be worried and concerned about:
- What others think and how you might be judged
- Your children/grandchildren
- Where you are going to live
- Being alone
- Whether you will find someone else/whether the affair will survive
- The future
Looking after yourself is important. Start by focusing on the basics:
- Eat well
- Do things that help e.g. exercise, hair/appearance, getting out of bed with a plan
- Resist or stop doing the things that contribute to your stress and anxiety
Managing the old relationship and divorce negotiations
Try to avoid:
- Game playing with your ex-partner i.e. tit for tat, point scoring, persecuting, punishment, cruelty.
- Catastrophising: imagining the worst outcome, imagining what others are thinking/planning.
- Demonising the other: this tendency can result in you feeling small, weak, powerless and a victim. You are both adults and equal.
- Draw children into ‘the game’ or use them.
Be careful whose advice you follow – seek out and arrange quality support from:
- Specialist family lawyers, who will give you sound legal advice.
- Non-judgmental, reliable friends and family who will listen with kindness and compassion.
- A qualified, experienced psychotherapist/counsellor for yourself.
- Couples therapy and family counselling may help resolve difficulties and ease arrangements, separate parenting and the path ahead.
If possible, try to:
- Break up gracefully.
- Try to negotiate a positive outcome for you both as early as possible and when times get difficult you can always go back to this.
- Move forward at a pace you are comfortable with, even if you are being pressured to complete proceedings. Haste is unlikely to help anyone involved.
- Take joint responsibility. This can be hard, especially when you feel the end of your relationship is not your fault.
- Talk, talk, talk (but don’t gossip).
- Focus on the basics (sleep, eat, exercise, relax).
- Lean on friends and the support available from specialists.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Be open to change, new experiences and a new relationship (when you are ready).
- Remember the bigger picture. You could move on to a better, happier place with hope and excitement.
Headspace is an independent centre providing counselling, psychotherapy and CBT by 15 highly trained members of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy. They have clinics in Leeds and Ilkley.
You can contact Juliet on 07946 879984 or visit www.headspaceleeds.com