If you haven’t already experienced a breakup, it’s likely that you will someday. The impact that relationships have on our lives can make it hard to accept the realization that they have come to an end. When you have cared for someone and let them into your life, the split is likely to be difficult regardless of the circumstances (you broke it off, your partner broke it off, you saw the end coming, the breakup came out of nowhere, etc.).
You Might be Feeling…
Along with the understandable feelings of sadness, people may feel stress, confusion about sense of self and difficulty concentrating. The body’s reaction to stress can also lead to a weakened immune system and increased vulnerability to sickness.
Knowing that your feelings and reactions are normal following a breakup may help you stay positive as you adjust your routine and move on with your life.
Focus on Activities Instead of Thoughts
When dealing with a breakup it is important to stay busy. You do not want to sit around and reflect too intensely on the what-ifs of your relationship. According to The Atlantic, a study published in Clinical Psychological Science found that it is harder for people with contemplative personalities to move on after a breakup if they journal expressively about their emotions regarding the relationship.
You cannot (and should not) keep yourself from feeling emotions, but after a while make the conscious decision that you will only reflect on the breakup during a specified time period. Give yourself 20 or 30 minutes to indulge your feelings and then move on to something else.
Suggestions for Coping
Here are some ideas you can try when recovering from a breakup:
- Exercise. Exercise is often praised for its numerous health benefits, including weight management, stress relief, greater muscle tone, increased self-esteem and a lessening of depressive symptoms. Research has also shown that regular exercise can strengthen the immune system, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. If that’s not enough, exercise can help you clear your mind and give you a physical goal to feel proud of accomplishing.
- Spend time with friends. Remember that there are people who love you regardless of what happened between you and your partner. Enjoy spending time with your friends and make sure they know how much you appreciate them being there for you. This is also a good time to catch up with old friends you haven’t seen in a while.
- Engage in hobbies you love (or find new ones). Examine your life and make sure you are doing the things you relish the most. Maybe you love to paint but haven’t picked up a brush recently, or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to skateboard—this is your chance. Discovering new talents and pastimes can be invigorating (and may even help you meet new people).
- Listen to music. Sometimes you just need to tune out the world and be transported by music. It can be comforting to find songs that describe exactly what you are going through, and music has also been found to cause dopamine release in the brain. Just be careful not to over-indulge on depressing music. There gets to be a point at which commiserating with the singers of heartache songs only serves to keep you stuck in the blues.
- Practice basic health and hygiene. Eat well, get enough sleep, stretch, spend some time with nature, etc. Dress in a way that reflects who you are. Make changes such as experimenting with new makeup or hairstyles, but be careful not to do anything drastic that you might regret. Chopping off your hair on an impulse could end up dealing another blow to your self-esteem if you aren’t happy with the look.
Relationships can be both heartbreaking and uplifting, and they are a part of life. As hard as it can be, we need to view them as an experience to learn from and give ourselves time to recover.