I read recently an article on the BBC Future website that questioned whether moving house was one of the most stressful events ever.
Having purchased a house around 9 years ago, the fact that I am still in the same house and have no plans of moving, is probably testament to that very fact.
I began to wonder what the top stresses that affect us are and I found some research commissioned by EstatesDirect.com which listed the top 10 as:-
1. Buying or selling a property
2. Relationship break-up/divorce
3. Being made redundant
4. Death of a grandparent
5. Getting the sack
6. Being in debt
7. Starting a new job
8. Becoming a parent for the first time
9. Planning a wedding
10. Going bankrupt
As a family lawyer, the second most stressful event was of particular interest to me. Arguments over money; the children; who gets the dinner service… are all a regular feature. Letters from lawyers; court documents; proposals; counter proposals; counter proposals to the counter proposals all need dealing with. Friends and family members are all ears and ready to give their opinion on what is fair or how much they actually hated your ex, but what about your work? Dealing with a relationship breakdown is a very difficult situation to deal with. It is exceptionally difficult if you hold down a professional job and you need to maintain your professional standards. You need to deal with colleagues; customers; day to day work and yet, inside, you are grieving and struggling to cope.
The following tips may assist in coping:
Tell your employer – talk to them. Tell them about your home situation. If you feel vulnerable, put it in a letter. If you let them know they can provide support and may give you some leeway, just in case your performance suffers. A client of mine did not tell her employer and when it came to appraisal time she was scored low on a number of key areas. This in turn affected the pay rise she was going to get for the following year at a time when she needed all the money she could get to be able to take on a mortgage on her own.
Take a break – whether you are the person ending the relationship or the person on the receiving end, you need time away. Time to cry, shout, lick your wounds – you need time out to deal with how you feel. A short break away, a night out with friends are all good ways to cope.
Tell your colleagues – no one needs to know the ins or outs of the relationship breakdown but telling a few close colleagues will not only help you by talking about it, but also help them to know how to deal with you. The simple question ‘how are you’ which usually needs a reply of ‘okay’ can be a difficult question to ask if you then spend 20 minutes telling them how you really feel.
Know when to keep your counsel – as difficult as it is, people do not want to know every ongoing detail of the breakdown. Consider contacting a specialist counsellor who will provide a professional and confidential service to help you cope with your situation.
Dealing with paperwork – the process involves lots of forms and letters from solicitors requesting information so deal with them straight away, rather than adding it to your ‘to do’ list which, more often than not remains a ‘to do’ list. The quicker you deal with the paperwork, the quicker your solicitors can process it and so, it follows, the quicker it will be concluded.
Look after yourself – it is a well known fact that eating, sleeping, resting and relaxing all lead to a healthy body which leads to a healthy mind. Whether it is reading a good book; joining a gym, these all help reduce tension and help you cope with everyday life. Everyone finds this a difficult situation to cope with and everyone needs to find ways of looking after themselves.
Smile – it is right that it is easier for the human face to smile than frown. We are all born with the ability to smile but when things get us down we often forget how to use it. Studies have shown that something as easy as smiling may actually make you feel better or help you see the lighter side of things in what is a very difficult situation.
Justine is a Partner in the family team and is Head of Private Client services and can be contacted on 0113 336 3323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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