A Step-by-Step Guide to Divorce: Health and Well-Being

 

Even for the party who initiates the split, a divorce usually places considerable strain on the person’s physical and mental health and well-being. Even the best divorce lawyers are not ideally equipped for helping their clients with some of the more unexpected challenges that divorce can bring. That said, most family law solicitors will have some good ideas about where someone who is struggling can seek help and advice.

Below are some of the most common health and well-being problems associated with divorce, and some ideas for overcoming them.

Depression

This can arise for all sorts of reasons at almost any stage of life. Although perhaps most frequently occurring for those on the receiving end of an unwanted divorce, often as a result of feeling unwanted, unloved or rejected, it can also cause problems for those pursuing a wanted divorce.

By its very nature, divorce changes lives. Not only are relationships broken, living arrangements are also altered, houses sold, finances divided and so on. Many of the emotions generated are entirely natural and will settle in time, or with the assistance and support of kind and sympathetic friends.

Sometimes, however, it may be necessary to seek a little extra help. This is when it may be worth paying a visit to your GP. Antidepressants are not always the inevitable outcome of such a visit, but neither should they be feared. Alternatively, cognitive behavioural therapy can assist some people, although this is not always available on the NHS in a timely fashion.

Stress

It is entirely to be expected that someone facing divorce will have concerns about the future. These can range from the specific (where will I live?) to the general (how will I cope alone?). Whatever the questions causing concern, the best way to keep them at bay is to find an effective coping strategy.

Different things work for different people. For some, walking the dog and enjoying a chat with fellow dog walkers can be enough to get them through the day, while for others it will be the day-to-day routine of familiar work or a lively evening out. Exercise can work miracles for many people, thanks to the mood-boosting endorphins that it delivers. And it doesn’t have to be jogging or lengths at the local pool: salsa dancing, an afternoon on a dry ski slope or striding the hills can be just as beneficial.

Sleep Problems

Money worries and concerns over children or future housing are just some of the specific concerns that can adversely affect sleep during the divorce process. Even someone getting help with these issues from divorce solicitors may find that they are not sleeping as well as usual.

Firstly, a good bedtime routine can help. This means going to bed and getting up at the same time and ensuring that the room is neither too hot nor too cold and is free of electronic distractions. A warm, milky drink and a hot bath before bedtime could also improve sleep, as can reducing overall alcohol and caffeine consumption.

Some people swear by lavender on their pillow or using a herbal remedy, such as valerian. Others wind down with a book; this tends to work best if it’s not a gripping page-turner that is difficult to put down. If these traditional remedies do not have the desired effect, it may be worth visiting your GP. Sleeping tablets are often seen as a last resort but, with proper guidance, they can be a useful temporary measure to get your sleep back on track.

Eating Problems

It is common for eating patterns to alter during times of emotional stress. Some people overeat, seeking the comfort of large portions, frequent snacks or high-calorie treats. For others, eating becomes a chore. They may stop cooking or planning balanced meals, or they may eat irregularly. Neither scenario is wise from a health perspective. Equally, unless it is affecting someone with specific health problems, such as diabetes, neither is likely to do much harm in the short term. However, it is important that normal eating patterns are resumed as soon as possible. This may be easier if there is someone else, perhaps a child, to cook for. Someone living alone may benefit from getting together with friends for the occasional meal.

Alcohol

The problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption are well documented. However, even those who are well aware of the recommended maximum weekly intake and who do not normally binge drink may find themselves using alcohol as a crutch to get through difficult times.

The occasional drink, particularly when enjoyed in the company of friends, is unlikely to pose a problem even to someone struggling with their divorce. However, drinking regularly, and perhaps heavily, while alone can indicate a potential problem. There is help available for anyone with an alcohol problem, and GPs, and sometimes even women’s and men’s divorce lawyers, can signpost the way to that help, but it is far better to recognise the danger signs and to nip the problem drinking in the bud.

Concerns About Children

Many divorcing parents worry about how the split will affect their children. Initially, concerns about where the children will live and how they may feel if they have to move houses or schools may take precedence.

However, some children manifest emotional distress in very physical ways. These can include bed-wetting, eating problems, temper tantrums and poor behaviour at home or school. These can be distressing for all concerned but are usually relatively short-lived, provided that the child receives appropriate parental love and attention. It is also important to keep schools up to date on how events are affecting a young person in their charge.