Divorce can be a stressful and emotionally draining process even under the best of circumstances. But if you and your spouse find yourselves in constant conflict, it can be especially difficult to cope with such ongoing stress. Here are some strategies that you can use to help diffuse emotions and manage stress levels during a high-conflict divorce.
Managing Divorce Stress
Recognize the Pressure You’re Under
It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people try to manage stress by pretending that they’re fine or by avoiding their feelings so they don’t have to face them.
It’s important to recognize your emotions and take time to acknowledge and work through them rather than simply trying to push them away.
The danger in trying to pretend like everything is fine when you’re under acute stress or feeling overwhelmed is that stress tends to manifest in other ways if you don’t deal with it head on. Emotions are powerful things and when ignored they can emerge in unexpected and sometimes destructive ways. While it may seem easier in the short term to lock your feelings away, dealing with them now will help ensure that they don’t emerge in unproductive or hurtful ways later on. This can be especially important when you’re going through the high stakes process of divorce.
It's also important to be gentle with yourself while coping with divorce stress. It’s okay to be upset, to feel like you’re drowning sometimes, or to make mistakes, especially when you’re going through something as stressful as divorce.
Daily Steps for Managing Stress
Taking a few moments each day to reflect on how you are feeling can help you to understand what may be triggering those feelings, better manage your reactions, and create an environment where it is easier to diffuse any potential conflict.
Practicing self-care can also help you manage stress during a contentious divorce. Self-care does not have to be anything elaborate or expensive; instead, it can be as simple as taking a walk out in nature, listening to calming music, writing in a journal, or spending time with friends and family who support you. These activities can help clear your mind and provide an escape from the overwhelming emotions of the divorce process.
It's also important to ensure that you’re eating healthy food, sleeping enough, and exercising. Taking care of your body will help you manage your daily stress levels, which can ultimately help you get through your divorce with your physical and mental health intact.
Finally, it is important for those going through a high-conflict divorce to seek outside support. This could include speaking with a therapist, joining a divorce recovery group, or spending time with friends who have been through divorce in the past. Talking through your emotions with another person can not only help you manage your stressful emotions, but also can help provide much-needed perspective on your situation and clarity when making impactful decisions.
By acknowledging your emotions, practicing self-care activities on a regular basis, and seeking outside support when needed, you can better manage your stress levels and create an environment where you are more likely to come together with your spouse peacefully and perhaps even reach a more amicable settlement than might be possible otherwise.
Techniques for Diffusing Negative Emotions
One of the most important strategies for keeping emotions at a manageable level during a high-conflict divorce is to communicate clear boundaries to your spouse and maintain them. Inform your attorney about these boundaries so that they can be aware and help advocate for you if necessary.
For instance, you might tell your ex that you will not discuss your case through texts or phone calls and that you want all negotiations to go through your attorney. Or, if you have children, you might insist that there be no discussion of the divorce during drop-offs or pick-ups. Setting clear and firm boundaries will help you reclaim a sense of normality without feeling burdened by the constant anxiety of engaging in conflict. Engaging in arguments or heated discussions outside of court proceedings rarely lead to productive dialogue anyway and often only serves to further inflame tensions.
Practice De-Escalation Techniques
Simple communication tools like mirroring, which involves repeating the last few words that a person just said, or labeling, which is a way of validating someone’s emotions by labeling their emotional state, can help diffuse emotions during tense moments. Rather than responding with anger or accusations, responding by saying, “I hear you saying that you’re very disappointed by….” These kinds of responses can help move the conversation past an emotionally sticky moment.
Look to the Future
It's also important to focus as much as possible on the future rather than the past. The past is in the past and can never be fixed, but the future is what you’re working toward. Rather than spending time litigating who’s to blame for the divorce, keep the conversation on where you want to be after the divorce.
Listen, Acknowledge, and Compromise
Listening with an open mind to an ex whose actions have filled you with anger, resentment, or disappointment can be extremely difficult, but doing so can help move forward negotiations so that you can both move on. Being able to acknowledge your part in a problem, even if it wasn’t the main part, can also help to alleviate feelings of resentment and help move conversations out of the past and into the future. Finally, it’s challenging but necessary to compromise during a divorce. Be willing to compromise where you can; otherwise, a judge will impose a decision on you that will likely force you to agree to things you’d rather not agree to anyway.
Hire an Experienced and Compassionate Divorce Attorney
Healing can take time, but following the strategies outlined above can help you manage the high levels of stress and conflict that are often the most difficult part of divorce. Coping with a divorce can feel like navigating an unfamiliar world, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
It’s also important to have a seasoned divorce attorney by your side. At the Law Office of Alexandra White, PC, we can help make sure that your rights are being respected while providing strategic advice on how to deal with difficult moments during the process. Contact us online or call us at (303) 647-4245 to schedule a consultation so that we can discuss your case in detail.