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Stressed About Going to Court? 5 Strategies to Reduce Stress Ahead of Time

Most people find going to court a stressful situation.  Because it is often unfamiliar, court seems scary – and it can be.  If you have hidden assets, mislead your attorney, or provided false information during previous proceedings, you should immediately tell your family law attorney.  We cannot stress this enough.  These things have a way of coming out in court.  Optimally, none of these situations describe you.  However, if they do, or if you have a sneaking suspicion something else you have – or haven’t done – could result in disaster on the stand, the time to come clean is now.  Your attorney is your advocate.  Many times, your attorney has the ability to rectify the situation.  But this is only true if they know about the error or oversight before you testify about such information in court.

For those of you who have been forthright and honest from the start, court still commonly feels very, very scary.  Below are five strategies to reduce the stress in the days and weeks leading up to a court appearance.

Start Paying Attention to your Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for good health and reduced stress.  Any number of different habits contribute to, or detract from, getting the sleep your body needs.  Consider incorporating some or all of the following behaviors to enhance your sleep ability.

  • Set a sleep schedule. Stick to it, the same way you stick to your commitment to attend your kids’ 5:00 parent teacher conference or your Monday meeting with your boss.
  • Limit screen time. Consider stepping away from your computer, your phone, and your television before sleep.  Give yourself at least one screen free hour before bed.
  • Limit caffeine and nicotine. Be mindful of how caffeine and nicotine impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.  Experts say caffeine flushes out of your body about 4 – 6 hours after you consume a cup of coffee.
  • Avoid alcohol before bed. Particularly during the stress of a divorce, it may be tempting to crawl into a bottle and numb the pain for a while.  The temporary relief doesn’t translate into productive sleep time.

Exercise

Exercise reduces stress.  It’s that simple.  The good news is, according to the Mayo Clinic, any form of exercise will fit the bill.  In other words, you don’t have to do a five mile run each morning (unless you want to).  20 minutes of yoga, a quick swim, a kick boxing class, a long bike ride – your options are limited only by your imagination and your body’s physical ability.

Exercise offers a trifecta of benefits.  First, exercise increases production of feel good neurotransmitters.  These provide an overall sense of wellbeing.  Second, exercise improves your mood.  Studies show regular exercise relaxes you, increases your self-confidence, reduces symptoms of mild depression, and reduces symptoms associated with anxiety.  Finally, exercise often works as “meditation in motion.”  Concentrating on the task at hand, moving your body, helps you forget the stresses of the day.  This leads to feelings of optimism, calm, and a clear head, as well as increased energy to tackle the tasks before you.

Speaking of Meditation. . .

Meditation as Stress Reliever

Meditation is a no cost approach to stress management.  In meditation, you take some time to stop thinking about the stresses of the day, the unpleasantness of past events, the uncertainty of the future, and just be.  The Mayo Clinic identifies mediation as a way to restore calm and find inner peace in just a few minutes.  The benefits of meditation last much longer than the meditation itself.  The Mayo Clinic reports emotional benefits of meditation include:

  • Increased patience;
  • Increased tolerance in difficult or stressful situations;
  • Greater creativity;
  • Increased imagination;
  • Reduced negative emotions, both in length and in frequency;
  • Increased awareness of self;
  • More focus on the present moment;
  • Added perspective; and
  • Increased skills over time in managing stress.

Meditation as Symptom Reducer

No one likes to be sick.  The stress of divorce or other family law disputes can trigger chronic conditions.  It can also make ongoing conditions worse than they usually are.  Meditation helps people manage medical conditions.  Research establishes links between meditation and reduced symptoms of the following conditions:

  • Anxiety;
  • Asthma;
  • Cancer;
  • Chronic pain;
  • Depression;
  • Heart disease;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Irritable bowel syndrome;
  • Pain;
  • Sleep problems;
  • Smoking cessation;
  • Tension headaches; and
  • Ulcerative colitis.

Meditation should not be used as a substitute for traditional treatments.  However, it can reduce the symptoms of these conditions, making them easier to handle.

Chew Gum

Regardless of how you feel about gum chewing in general, consider this strategy in situations where you know stress will present itself.  Dropping the kids off at the ex-in-laws, which you find stressful?  Keep a stick of gum handy for just before this act.  Studies show people who chew gum during stressful situations experience less stress and a greater sense of well-being.  Researchers postulate this might be because gum chewing induces brain waves similar to those of relaxed people.  Another theory is gum chewing promotes blood flow to the brain, which reduces stress.

Spend Time with a Pet

Studies show people with pets are generally less stressed than people without pets.  Even if you don’t have a pet of your own, consider opportunities to interact with furry critters (domesticated, of course).  Interaction with pets releases oxytocin.  As with exercise, spending time with pets floods your brain with a feel-good chemical which promotes a positive mood.

If You are Facing a Family Law Issue

If you are facing a family law issue, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side.  At Fait & DiLima, we have extensive experience in family law.  From drafting a prenuptial agreement to litigating child custody issues to appealing child support rulings in high asset divorce, we have the experience you need.  Contact our office for a consultation at 301.251.0100.  For your convenience, we have offices in Rockville and Frederick, Maryland.

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