By Dr. Kathleen M. Reay
#1 Build a Strong Network
Build a strong network of supportive friends and family members to act as a buffer against the stressors in your life. Do your very best not to isolate yourself and feel lonely. The greater the loneliness and isolation you experience, the greater you will be vulnerable to more stress.
#2 Plan Play-Dates
Pick up the phone or send an email to someone who is nurturing and supportive. Engage in various activities with your supportive friends and family members. For example, go shopping, go see a new movie at the theatre, go enjoy a great meal, or go play a game of tennis or pool together.
#3 Include Challenging Mental Activities
Engage in a wide variety of challenging mental activities alone and with other individuals on a regular basis. Some examples are playing cards, chess, scrabble, solitaire, and backgammon. Perhaps you are more into other challenging mental activities like doing crosswords and other brainteasers such as Sudoku. Also, engage in stimulating conversation online or in-person. Or, learn some new and exciting things about a different country and its culture. Perhaps you may want to travel there someday. Learning a new language might be a challenging activity, too!
#4 Increase Your Sense of Control
Given that alienated parents are highly vulnerable to stress, it’s not uncommon to feel like things are out of control. At a time like this, it’s important that you have confidence in yourself and your ability to be able to influence certain situations or events. Have enough self-confidence to recognize that you can and will persevere through the obstacles and challenges in your life. Believe in yourself!
#5 Do Regular Check-ins on Your Emotions
Alienated parents are extremely vulnerable to stress when they don’t know how to deal with their feelings. Suppressing your feelings isn’t healthy, nor is getting extremely agitated, angry, and doing something you regret. Learn how to calm and soothe yourself whenever you’re feeling sad, mad, frustrated, betrayed, afraid, or angry. Make healthy choices and bring your emotions into balance. It will help you bounce back from adversity. Ask yourself, “Am I in control of my stress or is my stress in control of me?”
#6 Journal Daily
Write out your thoughts and feelings in a diary or journal. Keep in mind that journals are very important to help keep track of various situations or events that take place between you, your former spouse, your children, the criminal justice system, and so on. If deemed appropriate, share your journal entries with your attorney for legal purposes. More than anything, keep track of patterns you notice about your thoughts and feelings.
Blogging is a popular method to post online journals and diaries. Consider blogging your parental alienation story online. One benefit of blogging is finding out that you’re not in an isolated situation. Additionally, blogging offers the ability for you to meet other individuals who will offer you support just as you may to them. Many alienated parents have described that it’s validating to blog because there are so many other parents out there who comment on understanding the profound pain of losing a child through parental alienation. In some instances, alienated children do reconnect with their alienated parents from reading their parents’ blogs.
#8 Join a PAS Online Support Group
Join an in-person support group if one is available in your locale or join a PAS online support group. All you need to do is a Google search and you’ll find plenty of opportunities online. If you cannot find an existing support group in your region, why not consider starting one? This can be easily accomplished through Meetup, http://www.meetup.com or other social-media outlets like LinkedIn.
#9 Engage in Regular Exercise
Studies show that individuals who participate in regular aerobic or anaerobic exercise often experience less stress and anxiety than those who choose not to. Plan a variety of physical activities and recreational activities that you enjoy or will at least tolerate! You will notice the physical and psychological benefits of engaging in regular exercise quite quickly.
#10 If All Else Fails
Please seek counseling from a well-qualified mental health professional who is experienced in working with alienated parents. A professional can help provide additional tools and strategies to help you balance your emotional and mental self. Never be afraid to ask for help. “To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping” Chinese Proverb.