How Sleep Patterns Affect Your Mental Health

(image: Pexels)

Sleep and mental health have a pretty close relationship that most people living with mood disorders may not know about. Sleep deprivation can mess up your emotional processing, increasing your odds of developing or worsening a mental health condition. Similarly, certain disorders can result in insomnia.

The Two-Way Link to Mental Wellness

People living with mental illnesses may need to understand the importance of sleep on their recovery journey. Sleep allows your brain to rest and recharge. Good sleeping patterns enable your brain to process and consolidate memories, emotions and process information. Poor sleep can negatively impact your mood and emotional reactivity, which can worsen mental health. Chronic sleep problems can also prevalent in patients with psychiatric conditions.

How Mental Health Problems Affect Your Sleep

If you are diagnosed with a mental illness, the condition may affect the quality of your sleep in multiple ways. For example:

Depression: Insomnia and other sleeping disorders can be a symptom of depression. Conversely, depression can cause people to sleep too much, extending their period in bed.

Psychiatric Medication: Your psychiatrist may have prescribed a list of medicines to help manage your condition. However, certain medications can have side effects that include disturbed sleep, hallucinations, and insomnia. However, stopping your medication may also result in sleeping problems.

Anxiety: Anxiety disorders can keep you up all night with thoughts and worries racing through your mind. Besides, stress can lead to panic attacks that can make it difficult to sleep through the night.

PTSD:  Trauma can cause flashbacks, nightmares, or night terrors that can push you to stay awake all night. You may also feel uncomfortable or afraid to sleep alone in the dark.  

Sleep deprivation patterns are also common in other mental illnesses, including psychosis, mania, and bipolar disorder.

How Sleeping Problems Can Aggravate Your Mental Illness

Research indicates that sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to feel depressed, anxious, or suicidal. Additionally, sleep paralysis can also trigger paranoia, mania, and other psychotic episodes. Struggling to concentrate or relate with other people can lead to bouts of depression.

Improving Your Sleep Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

You can fasten your recovery journey by getting enough sleep every night. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you identify healthy patterns that can allow you to sleep better without any prescription.

Your doctor or therapist can help you identify a sleep-wake schedule for you to follow. It may involve getting ready for bed at around the same time every night and waking up at a particular time.

You may also have a sleep journal that helps you document your sleeping patterns. You may also need to avoid staying in bed for more than fifteen minutes without sleep. If the period lapses, you should wake up and perform relaxing activities like listening to your favorite song or reading a book.

You may need to work with a mental health specialist to identify healthy sleeping patterns that you can adopt to help improve your mental wellbeing.

Conclusion

Your mental health and sleep may be more intricately linked than you’d like to imagine. You can work with a mental health professional to identify good sleeping habits that reduce the effects on your recovery.

This article was written by a freelance writer

Building Trust in a Relationship: Steps You Can Take

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In a relationship, distrust may spread like flames in an inferno if not carefully contained. Trust, from both sides, is the very foundation of a relationship, and if that is broken, it can be very difficult to stay on an even keel. Here, we look at how you can build trust in a relationship and fix it if it is broken. 

#1 Be open about how you feel and express your vulnerability

If you require reassurance from your partner, and are in a safe, healthy relationship, express your need for it. Tell them if you are experiencing feelings of insecurity. Engage them in getting to know you, how they make you feel, and how you would like to make them feel as well. Be honest with yourself and with them about your goals, anxieties, and ambitions.

#2 Give your partner the benefit of the doubt and assume their intentions are good

They may not have done it on purpose – people make mistakes all the time, and they may not have meant to upset you. Do not automatically assume that they are trying to upset you; it is acceptable to raise concerns about their motives, but be open to the possibility that they made a minor mistake.

#3 Communicate and talk through your issues

Spend some time each day checking in with one another and talking through any problems that you have. It is easier to deal with problems when they are smaller rather than letting them build into something bigger. Approach it from the ‘I’ rather than the ‘you’. 

#4 Recognise that the past may influence how you feel

Consider the following: Is your lack of trust a result of your partner’s actions, your own fears, or a combination of the two? Always be on the lookout for unsolved issues from your previous relationships that may be causing mistrust in the present. If it is something that your partner has done in the past, perhaps cheating, for example, consider talking to an infidelity therapist to help both of you come to terms with the issues and overcome them. 

#5 Listen to your partner and their perspective

Take a look from their perspective. Ask them how they feel and how did they perceive this situation? What are their thoughts on the situation? What emotions did it elicit in them? What was their personal reaction to this? Sometimes looking at it from their perspective and considering their feelings can help you to deal with the problem more objectively. 

#6 Trust your gut feelings

There is an awful lot to be said about trusting our gut instincts and paying attention to red flags that pop up. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, pay attention and do not let it fester. If you do not deal with it, it will continue to grow and destroy the relationship. There could be a simple explanation, or your feelings might be completely right. Either way, confirmation is always better. 

Trust is the very fundamental of a relationship. Without it, there can be no relationship. Work through these tips and you will be able to build the trust that you have.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Wellbeing Tips and Activities for Children: Twinkl Blog featuring Eleanor

(image: Twinkl)

I was approached by childrens learning website Twinkl to contribute some tips and ideas for the wellbeing of children this Autumn. I am delighted to be featured in Twinkl’s recent blog – Autumn Leaves: Wellbeing Tips & Activities for Children.

Check out some of their resources for wellbeing and resources for mental health too, including in partnership with Mind charity.

Thank you so much to all at Twinkl and I hope my tips are helpful. I used to work as a teaching assistant and was trained in safeguarding too, so hope you enjoy reading the blog!

Treatment Options for Recovering from an Eating Disorder by Kara Masterson

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Treatment for an eating disorder depends on the type of disorder you are suffering from (such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder) and can vary with each individual. In most cases, treatment will include therapy, education about nutrition, and monitoring. There may also be medications prescribed that can help address a disorder as well as treatment for any health concerns that may have been caused by the disorder. 

Therapy for Eating Disorders 

The first step in treating an eating disorder is therapy sessions that may last just a few weeks or many years, depending on the severity of your illness. Therapy is designed to help you develop a good eating pattern and exchange unhealthy habits for healthy ones. Therapy will also help you understand how eating is connected to your mood as well as how to cope with stressful situations. You will be given the chance to develop problem-solving skills that are more constructive and that can better serve you going forward.

There are three types of therapy used to treat eating disorders and you may enter one, two, or all three of these types to manage your disorder. They include: 

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy – this therapy focuses on behaviour, thoughts, and feelings as well as how to recognise and change distorted thoughts 
  • Family therapy – this therapy is designed to help your family help you establish healthy eating patterns as well as how to cope with a loved one who is living with an eating disorder 
  • Group cognitive-behavioural therapy – therapy conducted with others who are dealing with the same type of eating disorder in order to address thoughts, feelings, and behaviours 

Nutrition Program 

Another part of your therapy will include a nutrition program. You may work with a registered dietitian or other nutritional experts to help you better understand your disorder. They will create a program designed to help you work toward a healthy weight, practice meal planning, and take steps to avoid dieting or binge eating. As part of the treatment options for eating disorders, they will also help you recognise how your eating disorder negatively impacts your nutrition and health while helping you establish a realistic eating pattern you’ll be able to follow. 

Eating Disorder Medications 

There is no medication that can cure an eating disorder, but there are medications that are used in conjunction with therapy that may lead to better success. Antidepressants are the most commonly used, especially if your eating disorder includes binge eating or purging. Another drug that is sometimes used for binge eating disorders is Vyvanse which is thought to help impulsive behaviours that can lead to bingeing. 

Suffering from an eating disorder can be debilitating and it is an illness that is not only difficult for the person suffering from but also their loved ones who feel helpless. There are treatments available and it is critical that you get help for your eating disorder as soon as possible- reach out for support.

This article was written by freelance writer Kara Masterson

7 Bipolar Disorder Facts Everyone Should Know by Ronnie Deno

(image: bphope.com)


Bipolar disorder affects roughly 46 million people worldwide in 2017, according to the Our World in Data. While there remain several challenges for people living with bipolar disorder and to their caregivers, health experts believe that current developments have reduced symptoms and improved quality of life.

Bipolar disorder is a very common cause of disability and needs treatment . It is ranked by the World Health Organization as the 6th leading cause of disability in the world with the inadequacy of treatment, resulting in higher rates of ill health and worsening of symptoms. The following are the seven 7 facts everyone should know about bipolar disorder.  

Fact No. 1 – Bipolar disorder looks a lot like classic depression.

Formerly called manic depression, bipolar disorder involves extremes of emotions, when not well controlled. It is associated with mania, depression, or both. People who have it may undergo a depressive state for some time – that is, weeks to months – before entering the manic state. The depression period usually comes afterward, and the cycle repeats. In some cases, people experience both. They appear very agitated and energetic and sometimes this can tip into psychosis.. 

Both mania and depressive episodes range from mild to severe patterns. Because the clinical manifestations of bipolar disorder mimic other psychiatric anxiety disorders, it takes years at times for doctors to find the correct diagnosis.

Fact No. 2 – Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood and behaviour.

Some people with bipolar disorder experience cycles of manic and depressive episodes, which can be sudden and occurring several episodes a year. The cycle can shift quickly depending on the type and severity of the condition. Elevated mood associated with mania is defined by irritability, euphoria, and labile mood, whereas depression is often expressed by loss of interest, inability to function day to day and extreme sadness.

Fact No. 3 – Bipolar disorder has symptoms of mania and depression at the same time.

There are different variations of bipolar disorder, namely bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and bipolar unspecified. These conditions are marked by mania, depression, hypomania, or mixed manic and depressive episodes. In mixed bipolar type, there is a rapid and severe mood fluctuation in a quick sequence or simultaneous fashion without recovery in between. 

Fact No. 4 – The mood episodes of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person.

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is based on the clinical presentation. However, the symptoms can be unspecific and variable from one person to another throughout the disease. Thus, making the prediction cycles of a person with bipolar difficult. 

For some people,. a person with bipolar disorder undergoes two (2) cycles of mood changes with mania taking place in spring or fall. However, mood stabilising medication greatly reduces episodes.

Fact No. 5 – There is no known single cause of bipolar disorder.

It is thought that bipolar disorder may run in families. In terms of biochemical cause, the manic and depressive cycles of bipolar disorder are associated with the excess or depletion of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as catecholamines, dopamine, and norepinephrine. 

Trauma may also trigger bipolar episodes.

Fact No. 6 – There is treatment available for bipolar disorder.

The goals for treatment available for bipolar disorder are stabilisation of symptoms, prevention of relapse, and improvement of social functioning.

Pharmacotherapy, particularly antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilisers, are the mainstay treatments for bipolar disorder. The HHS Public Access cited Lithium as the best drug for relapse prevention. T

In addition to medications, long-term maintenance for people with bipolar disorders may include psychosocial treatments that focus on education, stress management, detection of relapse, and developing a healthy lifestyle.

Fact No. 7 – People with bipolar disorder can and do lead happy, healthy lives.

It is possible that people with bipolar disorder can have happy and healthy lives. Realistically speaking, the quality of life faced by people with bipolar can be challenging when they have episodes or if they dont take or find the right medicines. This is because they continue to face challenges on their way to recovery, such as availability and choosing the right medication, ease of access to non-pharmacologic therapies, and finding the right balance of the medicine and non-pharmacologic treatments. In a qualitative study conducted by the International Journal of Bipolar Disorder, researchers revealed that some people with bipolar disorders explicitly struggle with managing their symptoms, maintaining relationships, and continuing to experience some form of stigma. Thus, regular contact with their health care provider is essential, as it provides a supportive environment for them.

While the cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, certain factors contribute to its development. Bipolar disorder remains a global health challenge. At this present time, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but the current treatments have proven to mitigate their symptoms and improve quality of life.

Keeping things Stress Free when Elderly Family need to sell their Home.

(image: Unsplash)

A lot of elderly people decide to sell their homes. Usually, it is because they are either going to downsize or move into a retirement community. However, as we get older, it is not easy to do these tasks on our own, and a little bit of help is most certainly welcome, which will also help mental health. If you find one or both of your parents or a family member in this position, helping them navigate through it properly will make a huge difference, and that is what this blog post is all about. With that in mind, here are some things you can do to help them sell their home.

How to encourage a quick sale

If your loved one is moving into a nursing home for elderly, it is likely you will want to sell their existing home sooner rather than later. Heres one thing you can do…

  • Increase the asking price if too cheap – Your parents’ property could be failing to sell because it is too cheap. Do your research and see what comparable properties are being sold at. Never use the number 9 when pricing your home! Not only does £299,999 look unappealing but you will appear in viewer results on property portals. Why? You only fit in the category of £200,000 to £300,000. If you priced your home at £300,000 you would fit into the former category and £300,000 to £400,000.

Try to keep things as stress-free as possible

Moving home can be stressful at the best of times. However, this can be even more so the case if your parent does not want to leave their home but they have no choice but to do so because of their medical condition. This is why it is important to make sure that you make the whole process as stress-free as you are able to. When it comes to making all of the small decisions, don’t bother them with the details unless you think it is necessary. Aside from this, try to arrange viewings at convenient times to ensure your parent does not get flustered by the whole process. 

Five things you can do today to get your parents’ home sold

Instead of sitting there and feeling frustrated, do the following five things today…

  • Buy some new bedding – Freshen up their bedrooms with some new and modern bedding. This will instantly breathe some new life into the rooms. It is important that property viewers can imagine living in the home. Little changes like this can make all of the difference and help to encourage a sale.
  • Update your Twitter and Facebook pages – Drum up some fresh interest by updating your Twitter and Facebook pages. Ask your friends if they would share your status for you, so that you can get the ball rolling. With social media marketing, you have to update regularly if you want success.
  • Take new photographs of your home – Freshen up the photographs of your parents’ property. Add some seasonal elements to make it relevant and to create a welcoming atmosphere.
  • Call your estate agent – Ask him if there has been any interest in the home. Enquire about the general feedback so you can see where maybe you are going wrong. Don’t excuse your agent of not doing their job – you need to keep them onside, especially now!
  • Buy some new cushions – The impact of a set of new cushions can have on your living room is huge. You will instantly notice a difference, and, it won’t cost you much either.

So there you have it: some tips that can help you to help your parents or family sell their home! Good luck! We hope the advice provided above helps. 

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Being Self Compassionate when I have Anxiety (a List) by Eleanor

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I think that I put a lot of pressure on myself to be doing and achieving and living my best life. The truth is that this sometimes leads to overwhelm. I often try to run before I can walk as I am the eternal optimist… and then on the day anxiety (panic) takes over and I can’t do things.

This week though I have had extra pressures. I have had to deal with some medical things like my blood test for lithium (which I struggle to get to the surgery for), a potential job interview and my fears around social anxiety. Needless to say i have felt panicked and have had to self soothe, be kind to me and really look after myself. I am also working with an EMDR therapist.

So I thought I would create a list of things that I and you can do to be kind to ourselves! (inspired by googling and things that help me). Feel free to add in the comments!

  1. Call a good friend and have a natter- always good to speak to those who love you for you non judgementally and don’t mind if you’re not having the best day.

2. Have a warm bubble bath or shower with your favourite shower gel/ bubble bath/ bath treats. I am a big fan of bath bombs. Theres something super relaxing about them and you’re taking care of yourself too! I love things with cosy vanilla scents personally.

3. Do not be hard on yourself or criticise yourself. Bad mental health is not your fault and tomorrow can always be a better day.

4. Talk compassionately to yourself if your anxiety is overwhelming. Do what you need to self soothe and look after yourself.

5. Make sure you get enough rest- its OK to curl up with a blanket and Netflix for a bit, or read a good book. making art can also be healing too.

6. Accept the way you are feeling and seek support from a trusted therapist, friend or family member. You are OK as you are. You just may need help to recover.

7. Cuddle a pet. I have two very sweet guineapigs who give wonderful cuddles.

8. Listen to soothing music- that you love..

9. Remember to be kind to yourself, look after your wellbeing if you are low or anxious.

10. Call a support line if you are in crisis– such as Samaritans 116 123

Love,

Eleanor

x

The Inquisitive- a new film about mental health and suicide by Kelvin Richards

A daughter, struggling with mental health, is trying to cope with the death of her mother.

A father, recently released from prison, struggles to raise his teenage daughter as a single parent.

The Inquisitive is an independent British film that focuses on the extremely serious subject matter of teenage suicide and mental illness. The film is now working with multiple charities and organisations to bring more awareness to these issues and help make people understand why teenagers are suffering with such despair.

As with any film, we are in need of funding to help get it made. In 30-days, The Inquisitive is trying to raise £100,000 in order to give us the budget we need to make the film. We have budgeted accordingly and know there is a way we can make this a reality, however if we surpass this target, then we can make the film even bigger, better and draw in more famous faces to give the film the outreach it deserves so we can help raise even more awareness of these issues.

My name is Kelvin Richards, I am the writer/director of The Inquisitive and passionately believe that this film needs to be made. I appreciate there have been, and am sure will be, films about teenage mental health and suicide – but not like this. From the first day of deciding we were going to make this our next feature film, the team agreed the film couldn’t be ‘just another film about teenage suicide’, it had to be more than that, in both the way we make it and in the way we use it to help others. I want the film to have a lasting legacy that positively impacts the issues we focus on, and so we are teaming up with as many supporters as we can to help raise awareness of these issues and in-turn raise awareness for these organisations who’s aims are to help people struggling with mental health, or prevent those who sadly want to take their own lives. Two charities that have been a great asset to our cause have been The OLLIE Foundation (https://theolliefoundation.org/) and The Grace Dear Trust (https://thegracedeartrust.co.uk/) who have been of great help and I hope anyone in need can benefit from the services they offer for suicide prevention and mental health.

Before we begin, if this already sounds like a project you want to support then please feel free to find out more information and donate here – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kelvinrichards/the-inquisitive – we truly appreciate any donation you can afford to help us make this film.

The aim of The Inquisitive isn’t to cure teenage mental health issues, or suddenly stop the vast amount of teenage suicides the UK experiences every year. The aim is to raise awareness of these issues and try to help people who were unaware, appreciate and understand why certain teenagers feel the way they do, or choose to end their lives – and most importantly, get family and friends openly talking about these issues.

The film focuses on the story of Selena, a 15 year old girl who has lost her mother to cancer and is now being raised by her father who has been in prison for her entire life. But we don’t see Selena’s story right away, instead, we watch the story unfold through the eyes of Selena’s father, Paul. A man in his early thirties who is struggling to find a job and raise his teenage daughter. He tries his hardest to be a father and he does eventually find a job so we begin to get sidetracked by his story, and just as his story reaches its resolution, he comes home one night to find a suicide note from his daughter and later finds her body, having successfully carried out the horrific act. He, nor us as the audience can believe what is happening. Through experiencing the story alongside Paul, we ourselves have experienced how easy it is to miss the signs. “Every time we saw her, she was fine! She even cracks jokes! So why would she take her own life?”

Only now do we reveal Selena’s story. Only now do we get to experience her suffering. Only now, it’s too late.

I want the audience to experience the sheer helplessness family members experience in these tragic circumstances, and how the audience themselves even missed the signs whilst watching a film. So we now helplessly watch the same events unfold, but through the eyes of a teenage girl.

I feel this is the most powerful way of telling the story and what sets The Inquisitive apart. By using cinematic techniques we will make the film as immersive as possible to help audiences truly appreciate, understand and experience these issues. Selena’s character will break down social misconceptions and stereotypes. Although they are young, teenagers are not stupid. They know full-well the emotions they are feeling and we, as a society, need to come away from this mentality of “oh it’s just their hormones”, “It’s puppy love” or “It’s just teen drama” because that in its own right, is part of the problem. Selena doesn’t take her own life because of petty issues like ‘puppy love’ or because she’s ‘just sad today’, she thinks nihilistic thoughts. Suicidal ideologies on the pointlessness of life. For a teenager, or anyone for that matter, to take their own life, it’s not simply because they have a mental illness, it’s not simply just an impulse decision, it’s not simply because they are depressed, it’s because they have decided life is not worth living anymore. It is the peak of existential thought, and yet teenagers who have taken, or have tried to take their own life, are just seen as ‘stupid’. Far from it. The issue is, they aren’t talking about these thoughts, they are keeping them bottled up and so it spreads like a virus, poisoning their minds to the point where they can see no alternative but to end everything. Or if they are talking about it, they are struggling to get the help they need because families aren’t informed enough on what to do in these situations – and from there is a very vicious cycle that unfortunately sees almost 300 teenagers per year killing themselves.

So if we can make The Inquisitive, raise awareness of, and get people talking about these issues, then we as filmmakers will have achieved our vision of the film.

If you too believe in what we are trying to achieve then we would be truly grateful for any donation you can afford, all donations can be submitted on our funding campaign page here – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kelvinrichards/the-inquisitive – we have until the 10th November to raise £100,000 so every donation counts. From myself and all of the team, a huge thank you for taking the time to read this article.

An Exclusive Card Collection by Bryony Gordon , Mental health campaigner, for Thortful.com (for World Mental Health Day)

(image: Thortful and Bryony Gordon)

  • thortful launches ‘Affirmations by Bryony Gordon’ to mark World Mental Health Day
  • 100% of profits will go to the Community Programme founded by Bryony; Mental Health Mates

Greetings card marketplace thortful.com has worked with journalist and broadcaster and Mental Health Mates founder Bryony Gordon to create a series of positive affirmation cards written by Bryony and beautifully brought to life by illustrator Frankie Rose.  The cards campaign is in support of Mental Health Mates and Better Health – Every Mind Matters.

World Mental Health Day took place on Sunday 10th October, and throughout the month, thortful will be supporting both Mental Health Mates and the Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign. The campaign encourages people to look after their mental wellbeing by getting a free NHS-approved Mind Plan. When it comes to taking care of your mental health, having a plan is a brilliant first step. So, throughout the month of October thortful are encouraging people to take the NHS-approved Mind Plan quiz, for personalised ideas to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Mental Health Mates is a network of peer support groups run by people who experience their own mental health issues, meeting regularly to walk, connect and share without fear or judgement. With walks and online communities across the United Kingdom, Mental Health Mates is a thriving community and one that is committed to growing to reach even more people in need of mental health support.

The affirmation cards collection is available exclusively at thortful. The cards include a QR code on the back, to scan to find out more about the partnership and tips to improve mental wellbeing.

Bryony comments: ‘Physical cards are so important, I used to receive them from my friend Fearne (Cotton) during lockdown, when she would write to me just for the hell of it, and it meant so much when it dropped onto the mat, even though we are in constant contact on WhatsApp! It’s easy to forget the stuff that is good for us and harder to retain it. I think affirmations are brilliant and important reminders of the things that make us feel good about ourselves. Reading an affirmation can really help us put positive behaviours into action.’

Clare Perkins, Deputy Director Personalised Prevention, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID formerly Public Health England) comments: ‘We are pleased to be continuing our partnership with thortful to support people with tips and advice to improve their wellbeing this World Mental Health Day and beyond. There are little steps we can all take to look after our mental health, and getting a free, NHS-approved Mind Plan is a great way to start. It’s important to find out what works for you and that’s why the Every Mind Matters website has lots of resources to try.’

Andy Pearce CEO of thortful comments: ‘We’re delighted to be able to host this collection for Bryony and her amazing community programme. Since our inception in 2016 thortful has always supported Mental Health causes so we’re delighted to be involved. We are also incredibly proud to continue our support of the Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign by encouraging our community to get a Mind Plan.’

You can have a look at the cards here: https://www.thortful.com/cards/bryonygordon

This article was written on behalf of thortful.com and Bryony Gordon.

How to Keep Your Children in Mind during a Divorce by Brooke Chaplan

(image: Ben Wicks at Unsplash)

When your marriage ends in divorce, you will be faced with some tough decisions that will affect you and your children for years to come (including your mental health). These include issues like how much time each parent will spend with the children, how child support payments will be made, and whether you should try to share legal custody of your kids with your ex. However, deciding the logistics of custody is only one part of protecting your children during divorce. Read on for four ways to keep your kids in mind during your divorce.

1. Strengthen Your Communication Skills

Studies show that kids who maintain close relationships with both parents after a divorce are less likely to develop behavioural problems. In addition, they are more likely to do better in school, have positive mental health and lead happier lives. While there’s no way you can guarantee how involved your ex will be in your child’s life, you can work toward keeping lines of communication open. If your family is struggling with these issues or others related to divorce, seek out counselling through community resources. Most importantly, try to remember that you’re not alone in all of it; many families face similar challenges after a divorce.

2. Work With a Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody laws vary from country to country and you may be able to find a local lawyer who specialises in child custody law. A child custody lawyer can represent your interests and work with judges to advocate for what’s best for your children. If you can’t afford a private attorney, check out legal aid resources in your area or government-sponsored websites. You can also reach out to domestic violence groups in your community as they often provide pro bono legal advice for clients in domestic violence shelters.

3. Remind Your Children You Care

As you’re navigating a divorce with children, your main priority is keeping your kids safe and secure. That means keeping them happy, healthy, and loved. Remind your kids regularly that they will always have parents who love them deeply.

If possible in your situation, continue to include your ex in some family activities so they can see how much you love each other as co-parents. Then reassure them again how happy their lives are going to be even though their family has changed.

4. Help Them Trust You

Trusting parents after a divorce is something many kids struggle with. If children don’t trust their parents, they can turn to less trustworthy sources for answers and may even distrust future relationships. Teach your children that the divorce is not their fault, but that it does mean changes are on their way. While you don’t know what the future holds, make an effort to always be open and honest with your kids throughout the whole process.

When it comes to children, parents should always put their best interests first, especially amid divorce proceedings. These four steps will help you protect your children as you navigate your divorce.

This article was written by freelance writer Brooke Chaplan, who is based in the USA.