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Mental health and emotional wellbeing during divorce, dissolution or relationship breakdown 22/02/2021

Divorce is often cited as one of the top five biggest life stressors, alongside the death of a loved one, moving house, major illness or injury and the loss of a job. Divorce, dissolution or the breakdown of a long-term relationship has both practical and emotional implications and may well detrimentally impact the mental health and emotional wellbeing of those going through it. Even if you are the instigator of the end of your relationship, or truly believe that you and your former partner will ultimately be happier living apart, you may experience a rollercoaster of negative emotional responses such as loss, isolation, anxiety, anger, depression or shame.

The practical aspects of formally ending a relationship can be complex, confusing and time-consuming, especially when you are attempting to navigate them concurrently with managing your emotions, and those of others impacted by the relationship ending. If you are instructing a solicitor to act for you their style and approach to their work can either reduce or exacerbate the stress of the practical considerations. Choosing to work with a legal professional who is supportive, patient and compassionate can give you the opportunity to make decisions that will result in the most beneficial legal outcome for you without being clouded by emotion. A solicitor who adopts a constructive person-centred approach to handling relationship breakdown can help you to minimise acrimony as a result of the negotiations pertaining to the division of your finances and arrangements for any children of the relationship.

If you are handling the legal aspect of your divorce, dissolution or relationship breakdown yourself – as a litigant in person – there are a number of organisations who can offer you support, and publications that can help you to understand the procedural aspects of your case. Gaining a thorough grasp of the legal process including the likely timescales for resolution is likely to reduce anxiety and uncertainty which can cause detriment to your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Some solicitors offer a free initial consultation with no obligation to instruct, and this may enable you to ask any questions you have and gain a deeper understanding of the steps you need to take in order to move matters forward.

Beyond legal and practical considerations, there are a number of steps that can be taken to forefront your mental health and wellbeing during inherently difficult and stressful circumstances. Emotionally working through a relationship breakdown can be a grieving process and it is important to allow yourself the space and time for that process to occur. As with any major and life-changing event, it will take some time for your feelings regarding it to settle and it may be beneficial to seek support from others. This could be friends or family, an organisation such as The Samaritans, or a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. There are also support groups, both in-person and virtual, across the UK that provide a space for those going through a relationship breakdown to give support to, and receive support from, those in a similar situation.

Although it can feel impossible whilst dealing with practical arrangements of a relationship breakdown and providing support for others in your family who may be affected by it, it is vital that you prioritise your own mental and physical health and wellbeing. Strategies for this will vary from individual to individual, but may including mindfulness or meditation, exercise, reconnecting to dormant hobbies or interests, and committing to avoiding negative coping behaviours such as drugs, alcohol or obsessive thoughts about your relationship. The importance and benefits of maintaining or starting healthy routines – such as eating well, having sufficient sleep and regular exercise – cannot be overstated.

Ultimately the journey through a relationship breakdown will be a very personal one, with each individual facing their own trials and tribulations and responding emotionally to those in different ways. Finding a way to reconnect with yourself as a single person rather than part of a couple can be tough but a divorce, dissolution or relationship breakdown can be framed as an opportunity to re-evaluate your priorities and values, and to forge a new, more fulfilling life for yourself.

For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.

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Manor Law Ltd, trading as Manor Law Family Solicitors, is a registered company in England and Wales - number 07977350, and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - Hertford office SRA number 567506 and City of London office SRA number 568637. Copyright © Manor Law, 2016. All rights reserved.

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