Looking after yourself
No matter who ended a relationship, separation can be a difficult time with intense emotions. At the same time as dealing with these emotions you may also need to deal with practical problems like new living and money arrangements.
It’s important to look after yourself during this time and get the support you need.
People with children may be concerned about how the children will cope. Parents need to make new arrangements for their children’s ongoing care.
Separation is a time of increased risk of family violence, both physical and emotional. If you are concerned about this, make a separation safety plan and seek assistance. There are a range of services to help keep you and others safe from harm during separation.
If you are feeling suicidal, please contact Lifeline’s 24 hour crisis support service on 13 11 14 or seek help from your doctor immediately.
Tips for looking after yourself:
- Seek professional help
- Focus on the children
- Stay healthy
- Talk to other people
- Things to avoid
- Related links
- Next steps
Seek professional help
Don't try to deal with everything on your own. There are many professional services available to help people who are separating. Call or make an appointment to see someone who can help you deal with the issues you face.
Things to do:
- See a doctor. Start with a local General Practitioner, who can help you with a range of different options, including developing a Mental Health Care Plan if it is needed.
- If you need immediate help, call a Helpline like Lifeline, Mensline and Kidsline.
- Call the Family Relationship Advice Line
- Contact Centrelink
- Use Family Dispute Resolution services
- See a psychologist, counsellor, or employee assistance service
- Contact Legal Aid, a Community Legal Centre or a legal practitioner
- See a financial adviser
- Contact local accommodation services
- Contact a family violence service
Focus on the children
Separation can be tough on children as well as adults.
Things to do:
- Talk to your children
- Separation does not change your ongoing role and responsibilities as a parent.
- If you are a parent, focus on what is best for your child or children both now and in the future.
- Think about what your children need from you and their other family members, including your former partner.
- Think about how you can make the separation easier on the children.
It’s important to look after your own physical and mental health during relationship breakdown.
Things to do:
- Make an appointment with a doctor who can advise you how to make a plan for staying healthy
- Make healthy choices about eating, alcohol and drug use
- Make the effort to exercise regularly
Talk to other people
During and after a relationship breakdown, you may feel like withdrawing or doing things that are unusual for you.
Things to do:
- talk to your family, friends, colleagues or health and relationship professionals.
- seek out and take up social opportunities, seek out support groups. Talk to people about how you are doing, and share experiences.
- know you are not alone and that things will get better. Love, loss and family separation are experienced by many people.
Things to avoid
- violence – physical and emotional violence against a current or former partner is unacceptable in Australian society and under Australian law. There are no acceptable reasons for violent, controlling or abusive behaviour during the breakdown of a family relationship.
- harmful use of alcohol and drugs.
- risky or harmful behaviour e.g. gambling and extreme sports.
- speaking in an angry or belittling way about your former partner to other people, especially to your children.
- social media misuse – e.g. posting humiliating or offensive material about them, venting your emotions online, cyberstalking.
- social withdrawal – e.g. refusing to talk to or socialise with family, friends and colleagues who would like to help.
- obsessively thinking about the relationship – blaming, dwelling on the past and ‘what might have been’.
Roberto’s wife tells him that their relationship is over. Roberto is surprised, and feels sick and angry. He is so upset that he doesn’t know what to do first. He decides to do some online research, and finds the number for Lifeline. After he calls and talks he feels a little better. Roberto next talks to his family about the situation, and then makes an appointment with a local doctor.
Family Relationship Advice Line
Australian Psychologists Association
- Try some Counselling.
- Think about Talking to Children after Separation.
- Consider using Family mediation and dispute resolution.
- Call the Family Relationship Advice Line.