Divorce is extremely common. Though researchers disagree on the widespread claim that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, the fact remains that many children grow up in “non-traditional” households and have mothers and fathers who are no longer married.
When it comes to divorce cases, custody and visitation disputes are some of the most common issues that the courts face. However, the fact that these cases happen on a regular basis doesn’t make them easy to deal with — especially for the separating parties. There are few tasks harder than deciding how you and your ex-partner should divide your children’s time and other previously shared resources.
During this time, it’s easy to let your self-care strategies fall into the background. However, as with any other crisis, it’s crucial for you to think carefully and act with intention right now. Emotional fog and exhaustion can impair your ability to make solid decisions and cloud your judgment, so you’ll have to be extra conscientious of your actions and priorities right now.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your self-care intact during this turbulent time.
Take Care of Yourself First
During custody disputes, there are eyes on you from all angles. Your children will be looking to you for confirmation that everything is going to be okay. This is a time in which their lives are changing drastically, and they may be very anxious about it. Your ex-partner might be studying you as well, and the courts will definitely be evaluating your behavior and presence too. They are tasked with making a decision in the best interest of your children, and so you need to be as healthy and stable as possible.
If you want to assure everyone that you’re capable of looking after your children, then you must look after yourself first. It may seem obvious that you need to shave, shower, brush your teeth, and wash your clothing during a divorce. However, the stress and depression that arise from a custody battle frequently lead to self-neglect.
Remember that these feelings are normal. You are going through a hard time, and you are doing the best you can. Despite how overwhelmed and exhausted you feel, try to keep your eyes on the big picture. You are working to remain strong for your children — and in order to do that, you must start with taking care of yourself.
Look After Your Body
This goes hand-in-hand with the first point. In times of significant stress, a lot of people ignore their basic physical needs, like decent sleep, healthy food, and regular exercise. However, you have a stronger chance of being the best version of yourself when you don’t let those things fall by the wayside.
A few tips:
- Make sure that you get at least eight hours of sleep each night whenever possible.
- Avoid fast food or processed foods. Whole foods offer the best nutrition, which will support your health and give you sustained energy.
- Set up a schedule for regular exercise. Even if it’s just a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood once a day, the physical and mental benefits are vast. If you don’t have a lot of time, try breaking it up into 10-minute sessions of movement throughout the day.
- Consider implementing a mindfulness or meditation practice. Meditation has many health benefits and can help you learn to relax during strenuous times.
Looking after your mind and body can help you be fit and healthy enough to deal with one of the most arduous situations of your life. Additionally, regular exercise will help to reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety by raising your endorphin levels and giving you an outlet for difficult emotions. This could mean that you feel more capable of coping with the situation at hand.
Spend Some Time Doing the Things You Love
When you’re in the middle of a custody battle, it can seem like all of your time is spoken for. Whether it’s filling out documents, talking with your lawyer, or just waiting for the court date to come — none of these activities are probably the way you would choose to spend your time otherwise, and this can be draining and frustrating. It’s crucial to make time for things that help you relax and recuperate.
Take some time to do things you enjoy as often as you can. Think about your hobbies and how you can proactively make time for them. Even if it’s just an hour spent watching your favorite show, reading a book, or taking a walk through your local park, it will help. Having some fun and remembering who you are outside of all of this will help put things in perspective.
Remember that you will eventually come out on the other side of your custody battle. You’ll be able to move on with your life. Keeping this in mind is crucial during long legal disputes.
Find Your Support Network
Having a trustworthy support network is a crucial element of self-care during a child custody battle. Divorce and other family law matters can feel incredibly isolating. Having people around to remind you that you’re a good person and talk with you about your feelings will help you stay motivated and focused during this challenging period. (Note: social media as an outlet is not a great choice during this time.)
You might even separate your support network into two categories: people you love and professionals. On one side, you’ll have your family and friends, who can be there for you emotionally. On the other side, you’ll have a therapist or counselor, who can give you objective guidance and feedback during this time. A therapist also provides a forum to express your feelings when you’re worried about putting too much on your friends and family.
Perhaps the most crucial expert to include on the “professional” side of your support network is a lawyer with experience in child custody disputes. An attorney you can trust to fight for your best interests, as well as your children’s, can put your mind at ease. Father’s Rights has over 30 years of experience in assisting husbands and fathers throughout their dissolution and custody cases, and we’re always here to talk to you about the specifics of your case.
For more tips on navigating single fatherhood, follow the Father’s Rights blog.