Here are four steps to manage your emotions after divorce or separation so that you are better able to make the right decisions for your future.

If you’ve recently separated and you are a parent, there’s plenty to deal with. On top of all the usual responsibilities, you may need to think about where you will live going forwards, how you will cover your outgoings and how you will make arrangements for your children.

You may also be struggling with really strong emotions at this time. This can put you on the back foot when negotiating new arrangements, or can lead to knee jerk reactions or constant worry and anxiety. None of this is helpful in addressing the challenges.

You need to remain calm and centred. And you will only be able to do that if you are looking after yourself. Just like the safety instructions given on a plane, you need to fix on your own oxygen mask before thinking of others.

Here are four steps to manage your emotions after divorce or separation so that you are better able to make the right decisions for your future:

The first two steps are crucial foundation stones in order for you to be able to effectively take steps three and four.

1. Look after yourself first

For many of us, self-care goes to the bottom of the list just when we need it most. I am sure I’m not alone in letting good habits slide when life gets busy or stressful. Just when a good diet, plenty of fresh air and exercise and plenty of sleep are most important, I find myself eating poorly, reaching for the wine glass or skipping a yoga class or run. All of this is very understandable if you are recently separated and working your way through the roller coaster of emotions that brings. So now might be a good time to review your self-care and work out what needs more attention. Here is a downloadable self-care assessment to help you do that. It is a starting point for thinking about your self-care needs and creating a plan to meet them.

2. Decide how to process your emotions

It’s important that you process your emotions following divorce or separation if you are to move forwards with your life. It’s also important if you want to reach practical agreements with your ex, especially if that ex is behaving badly or emotionally.

Everyone processes their emotions differently. Some may choose to speak to a therapist, some will talk to friends, some will journal or walk or run or paint or listen to music, or something else entirely. And some of us just bury emotions deep hoping they won’t re-surface later. Have you given thought to how you are processing your emotions and whether this is the best way for you?

3. When something happens that triggers your emotions, PAUSE

The something could be anything. It could be the cat being sick, it could be your kids arguing, it could be someone bumping into you on the bus or it could be your ex being late for the kids handover. Whatever it is, PAUSE before you respond.

My parents always taught me not to drive too close to the car in front so that I had time to react should that car’s tyre have a blow out or something similar. It’s the same with reacting to emotions. You need to put a PAUSE between you and the event that has caused your emotions to kick in. Your PAUSE could be just a few deep breaths, it could be taking some time out. It doesn’t matter what you do, but you need to create a PAUSE.

4. When you have PAUSED, choose the most helpful response to deal with the situation

So often when are emotions are high, we react unhelpfully to stuff that happens. We say something we regret or we behave in a way that is just not helpful. Having taken a pause, we can then choose how to respond in a way that is going to be most helpful.

These four steps to manage your emotions after divorce or separation can also be helpful in preparing you for the mediation process. If you would like to chat to me about mediation and how to prepare for it please contact me at polly@abingdonfamilymediation.co.uk or call on 07706513496.

Here are links to some additional articles on this subject that you may find useful,

https://www.mhanational.org/separation-and-divorce

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/news/a568703/how-to-cope-with-divorce-tips/

https://www.divorcemag.com/articles/how-to-handle-your-emotions-during-divorce

https://www.mentalhelp.net/divorce/emotional-coping/

PREPARING FOR MEDIATION SERIES: How to stay cool and manage your emotions after divorce or separation