During World War I, the infantry did not spend all of its time fighting in the trenches and preparing for battle. For every 8 days in the trenches, soldiers would get up to 4 days off to provide a break from the stress of combat. Soldiers would rotate into and out of the front lines to maximize their success.
A contentious unrelenting divorce, like wartime combat, will wreak havoc on your physical and emotional health unless you take periodic breaks to recharge your batteries. It is imperative to take time off from the trenches and prioritize self care.
Unfortunately, toxic divorces tend to last longer than a typical divorce, because one person continues to block the progress at every turn. It is essential to take time off from the trenches every day to refresh and nourish yourself. Like a soldier, you need to be prime for the challenges that you face each day. You need to be a warrior parent to show up for your kids in the face of adversity.
This will look different for everyone, but here are some no-cost daily habits to consider:
- meditate daily for 2 minutes
- journal every morning: see my instructions here on how to empty your brain
- 3 deep belly breaths 5 times through your day
- get outside for a walk (with the dog) and enjoy your favourite podcast
- limit social media within 3 hours of bedtime
Block off time every week to do something you enjoy. Your off-duty parenting time is great for this. Here are some ideas:
- talk to a therapist
- revisit an activity you have always loved: paint, read, cook, garden
- manicure, pedicure
- bubble bath
- meet a supportive friend for coffee
- go to a yoga or dance class
Learn to calendar self care
When you have a block of “time off” your brain is going to tell you that there are many other things you should be doing. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, helping kids with homework, or legals. The key to avoiding this trap is to calendar your time and make decisions ahead of time. Every week there needs to be a block in your calendar of focus time for your legals, and a block of time for filling up your own cup and recharging.This is called making an appointment with yourself. It is as important as the meetings you have scheduled with lawyers, therapists and doctors. Take the time for yourself!
The other responsibilities can also be on your calendar. When you actually schedule the time on your calendar to do everything that is on your to-do list, you will stop spinning and feeling overwhelmed. You will be shocked at how many productive hours there can actually be in a day.
Diminish the impact of your high-conflict divorce
You cannot change the behaviour of the person who has made it their objective to create chaos in your life. You can only control your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. You can diminish the impact of their toxicity by limiting your exposure to their antics and maintaining as much emotional regulation as possible. You can decide how you are going to deliberately think about their nonsense to minimize the drama. You can decide to proactively take the best care of yourself to optimize your success as a parent and a fierce litigant.