5 Tips for Handling Stress During a High Conflict Divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful times in someone’s life, no matter what the circumstances. Even couples whose divorces are relatively amicable can experience a high level of stress, which can include strong feelings of loss, anger, and sadness. When you and your ex are constantly in conflict, however, it can feel like an overwhelming and never-ending struggle that leaves you drained and exhausted.

If you are going through a high conflict divorce, here are five tips for handling stress so that you can remain focused on what is most important – your health and wellbeing:

#1. Create Boundaries

Creating boundaries is an important part of any divorce, but especially during a high conflict divorce. When there are disagreements between you and your ex, it can be difficult to keep emotions in check or have constructive conversations. That's why it's essential to set clear boundaries and not allow yourself to be drawn into arguments or discussions that will only escalate the tension between you and your ex.

When creating boundaries, it is important to make your expectations known and stick to them. If a conversation or situation is making you feel uncomfortable, you should let your ex know that this discussion isn’t going in the right direction. This will not only help you stay focused on what is important, but also help ensure that both sides feel respected and heard.

Here are some examples of specific types of boundaries you may want to consider setting during a high conflict divorce:

  • Respectful communication - Agree not to use words that are belittling or inflammatory when discussing matters related to the divorce.
  • Limited contact – Set limits on how often you communicate with each other and decide if having another party mediate communication is necessary.
  • Clear deadlines – Establish deadlines for tasks related to the divorce so both parties are held accountable without resorting to threats or ultimatums.
  • No surprises – Make sure any changes or new information related to the divorce process is shared with each other as soon as possible.

For some couples, a productive boundary may be to keep communication strictly managed through your respective attorneys. While some couples may be able to manage direct communication, others may find that any contact can increase and escalate conflict.

#2. Stay Positive

Divorce can bring out many negative emotions, so it’s important to focus on the positive aspects of your life such as friends, family, hobbies, etc. While it may feel like your divorce is overwhelming your whole life, it’s important to intentionally seek out positive and affirming moments during this process. Taking time each day to do something that brings you happiness – whether it’s reading a book or going for a walk in nature – will help boost your mood and keep your stress levels in check.

Making an effort to engage in positive activities also helps prevent negative thoughts from taking hold. Research shows that engaging in enjoyable activities can help reduce stress and even help improve well-being during a difficult time.

Here are some ideas for positive activities:

  • Exercise - Exercising releases endorphins which can increase your energy levels and lift your mood.
  • Socializing - Surrounding yourself with supportive family and friends can help provide emotional support during tough times.
  • Hobbies - Taking time each day to do something creative such as painting or playing music can be therapeutic and help cultivate feelings of happiness.
  • Relaxation techniques - Making time for relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help reduce stress levels and quiet the mind.
  • Journaling - Writing down thoughts and feelings can be a great way to express emotions without having to verbalize them, allowing for better self-reflection which ultimately leads to improved wellbeing.

It is important to remember that staying positive during this stressful period is key in order to maintain physical health, mental clarity, and emotional stability throughout the divorce process. Focusing on the good things in life—no matter how small—can make all the difference in helping manage stress levels during this difficult period.

#3. Take Care of Yourself

It's important to take care of yourself during a divorce, especially if it is high conflict. Make sure you are getting enough rest, eating healthy food, and taking part in activities that make you feel good. Research has shown that high stress life events like divorce can take a toll on both your mental and physical health.

While it may feel more difficult than ever to take care of yourself while going through the stress and grief of a high conflict divorce, it is also more important than ever that you take the time and effort to care for your mind and body during this time. Doing so will help you to overcome the difficulties of this period of your life and ultimately to build a better future for yourself once it is over.

Here are some tips for taking care of yourself:

  • Get adequate sleep - Sleep is essential for maintaining physical and mental health, so make sure you are getting at least seven to eight hours each night.
  • Exercise - Exercise is a great way to lower stress levels, increase energy, and maintain your physical and mental health.
  • Eat healthy - Eating nutritious food helps keep your body and mind healthy and sustain you during this difficult time.
  • Take time for yourself - Make sure to take some “me” time each day to do something that makes you feel relaxed and happy.
  • Take breaks from the process – Taking regular breaks from discussing or dealing with matters related to the divorce can help prevent burnout.
  • Seek professional help - If needed, seek professional counseling or therapy to help manage stress and get through this difficult period.

#4. Connect With Supportive People

Surrounding yourself with supportive people who understand what you are going through can be a great source of comfort. Friends, family, co-workers, or even counselors can provide a listening ear and help to keep things in perspective when emotions run high. It is also important to find an advocate – someone who can help guide you through the legal process and represent your interests if needed.

This period of your life can also help clarify who you want to invest your time in. If there are people in your life that aren’t supportive of you through your divorce, this may help you to realize that they aren’t necessarily the people on which you can depend. Focusing your energy on relationships that are mutually supportive, caring, affirming, and enriching can be an unexpected gift during divorce.

Having people around who understand and accept what you are going through can ultimately be incredibly helpful during this challenging time. Knowing that there are people out there who support you and want to see you succeed will be beneficial for staying focused on what’s important, which is ultimately achieving the best outcome from the divorce process and moving on with your life.

#5. Try A Different Approach

If you are finding that you and your ex are falling into increasing conflict, it might be helpful to try a different approach such as mediation, arbitration, or collaborative law. These methods can help to manage a lot of the animosity and provide an opportunity for you both to come up with mutually agreeable solutions without involving the court system.

Choosing an agreement-focused process like mediation or arbitration is beneficial because it allows both parties to have their voices heard while providing an unbiased third party who can help guide them towards reaching a respectful settlement that meets everyone’s needs. Collaborative law is another option which also involves the use of professionals – such as lawyers and financial experts – who are trained to help couples reach an amicable agreement.

Regardless of what approach you choose, it is important to remember that the goal is to come up with a mutually beneficial solution that allows everyone involved to move forward in their lives without prolonging the conflict any further. It can be easy to get caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of conflict, but keeping the end goal in mind can often help to cut through the animosity so that a resolution can be reached.

We Can Help You Navigate Your High Conflict Divorce

Navigating a high conflict divorce is no easy task. When you are dealing with emotions that are running high and disagreements that seem to never end, your divorce may feel like an overwhelming struggle that leaves you feeling drained and exhausted. But there are ways to manage the stress of a high conflict divorce while still achieving the best possible outcome.

At Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C., our experienced divorce attorneys understand the challenges associated with contested divorces and will help guide you through every step of the process to ensure your rights are protected throughout this challenging time in your life. We want to handle the most stressful aspects of your divorce so that you can focus on what’s most important – rebuilding your life.

Contact us online or call us at (516) 406-8381 to learn more about how we can help you reach an equitable agreement with your ex.