One of the things that we sometimes see in clients in mediation is an ability to make decisions or to put forward ideas as to potential solutions. We recognise that when couples separate either party can feel paralysed by indecision. This is often caused by feeling that there is simply so many ‘new’ things to process that it’s hard to know what to prioritise.

Feeling overwhelmed can often mean that people lose touch with that gut instinct that can help you to determine what is the best way forward. It can feel a bit like being disorientated in the sea and not being sure which way the surface is. You know you need to breathe, but you’re not sure which direction will deliver that sweet relief of taking a huge lungful or air.

Breaking down decisions can often be helpful so that there is a step by step process involving smaller matters, in turn, rather than a huge multi-faceted decision being made in one go. A mediator will often break big issues into smaller parts and go through each part in turn to help parties move forward. They can help to identify what further information each person may need to help them make a decision about each step. Mediators can help parties look together at the advantages and disadvantages of a particular option, or all the options.

Sometimes parties want to look at options purely from their own perspective and so, outside of the mediation, taking advice from a lawyer about the pros and cons of different options for you personally can be helpful. A trained divorce coach can also help you to weigh up different options and feel confident about the way forward.

Taking some time out may also be fruitful. Practising different techniques for deep breathing, or meditation, can assist, or using a mindfulness tool that works for you. This can help you to re-connect with that inner gut feeling or instinct to help you clear the fog and decide on your next steps. It can also help you to ‘feel’ which of the different options is the right one for you, and your family. When the brain perceives that a person is under threat it will trigger the ‘flight or fight’ response. This floods the body with adrenaline and will mean that you start to breathe in shorter, shallower breaths. This can produce feelings of anxiety and panic. By steadying yourself with deep breaths and relaxation techniques it can help you to slow down this instinctive response and to consider matters more rationally again.

If you’re feeling really overwhelmed by everything that is happening and none of the above tips are helping, then it may be sensible to visit your GP and/or get in touch with a counsellor to seek out some additional help. Divorce is one of the single most stressful experiences a person can have in their lifetime. It is often compared to a bereavement because you go through similar emotions and because the healing process can take a long time. There is therefore no shame at all in needing extra assistance and support to help you through this difficult time.