Being involved in a lawsuit is stressful, particularly since a suit usually arises after something has gone wrong. Maybe you’re getting a divorce, have been hurt in a car accident, or have been accused of doing something negligent or illegal. Whatever the situation, you’re dealing with attorneys, complicated legal theories, and possibly, another person’s animosity.
The emotional ramifications of a lawsuit can run deep and have very real consequences for your physical and mental health. “Self-care is not just a millennial buzz word,” says attorney Inna G. Materese, an associate at Dischell, Bartle & Dooley, P.C. “It is a very necessary and real aspect of life during litigation. All the more so in the realm of family law, where emotions are heightened, and the stakes seem impossibly high.”
You need to be proactive in caring for your well-being no matter your position within the suit or the likelihood of a successful outcome. Here are some tips to practice self-care during litigation.
Keep up healthy routines
If you have established routines regarding diet, exercise, and stress management, do your best to keep these in place. This is not the time to let healthy habits slip. Suddenly exercising less or eating an unhealthy diet can compound the physical effects of stress on your body.
Acknowledge the stress
You’ve probably heard this before: The first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem. This applies to stress. If you don’t know already, learn how to identify stress in yourself.
- Do you eat less or more?
- Are you suffering from frequent headaches?
- Do you have trouble sleeping?
- Do you find yourself short-tempered?
- Are you having trouble concentrating?
Once you know your typical manifestations of stress, acknowledge when you are stressed. No matter how strong and tough you want to be during a lawsuit, it is going to get to you. Realizing and acknowledging when the stress is having a negative impact enables you to better care for your physical and mental health.
Do something you enjoy
During litigation, everything can seem chaotic and stressful. You may feel like you have too much on your plate, which can cause you to push aside hobbies and fun activities. However, Materese recommends “becoming acquainted or re-acquainted with something that brings joy. Whether visiting a museum, spending time with your kids at an amusement park, journaling, or taking up kickboxing, finding a way to decompress can make all the difference.”
Consider going to therapy
There are a lot of misunderstandings and negative connotations associated with going to a counselor. However, the matter is really simple. Therapy is a safe and confidential place to work through your worry, frustration, and other complex emotions related to the lawsuit and your life as a whole. You do not have to suffer from a mental illness to benefit from counseling.
“It is important for a client to have a healthy support system,” Materese says. “The ability to process their circumstances in a constructive manner and just vent is paramount to a pragmatic perspective in the course of litigation. Likewise, many clients feel stress when they are in new waters and perhaps not well acquainted with the issues discussed in litigation. Litigants should seek as much advice and insight as possible to help them feel empowered to make decisions that are right for them.”
Ask for help
A lawsuit may add appointments, court hearings, and other tasks to your already busy schedule. You may be able to handle it all yourself, you may not. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Call on your family members and friends. Talk to your managers and coworkers, if you need to. Ask for help when you know a little assistance can eliminate a great deal of stress. This includes working with an experienced attorney. If you need to file a lawsuit or have been sued, a lawyer is exactly the help you need to address the matter appropriately and efficiently.
Keep the conversation away from your children
A difficult aspect of going through the court system is protecting your children. One way to do that is to not involve them in the litigation any more than necessary. “Our kids are much more perceptive and informed than we would like to believe,” Materese says. “Becoming privy to the legal issues of the adults around them can be destabilizing and detrimental.”
Lean heavily on family, friends, a counselor, or a support group to ensure you can vent to other adults. When you have a strong support system, you are better able to keep conversations about the case away from your kids, which helps maintain their routines and well-being.
Secure qualified representation
Lawsuits will always be stressful, although the stress will be more manageable by following the advice above. Even so, the way to ensure true peace of mind when going through litigation is by working with a qualified attorney. Having confidence that your case is in good hands, and your best interest is being advocated for, will help alleviate stress at trial.