One of the worst forms of pain that humans can experience is heartbreak. All of us have been there, and if you haven’t, there’s a pretty good chance you will at some point. Breaking up with a loved one, no matter how long you were in the relationship and how serious it was, can be extremely difficult. Often times people who have gone through a break-up will show signs of sadness, isolation, anger, loneliness, despair, and hopelessness. It is normal to think that you will never feel better again or that you will never find that kind of love again. Well, I am here to tell you that that is not necessarily true. The last thing you want to hear in the midst of an awful break-up is the cliche that “time heals everything”, but really, it kind of does. Here are 5 tips to help you get over your break-up and teach you necessary skills to move forward in a healthy and happy way:
1. Accept your sadness, anger, fear, and overall sense of hating life. There is zero shame is telling yourself and the people around you that you are not ok and not everything is fine. Admitting these feelings is the first step to accepting them. If you want to cry, then cry. When we internalize our difficult emotions, they end up bottling up inside and manifesting in other areas of our lives. You are also putting yourself at higher risk of having an “explosion” of emotion at an untimely moment, such as when your boss is giving you constructive criticism or at a friend who flaked on your plans. It is important to understand that you will have good days and bad days. As human beings, we crave instant gratification, especially when we are feeling down. An important skill to learn is to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. If you’re feeling upset, acknowledge your feeling, label the emotion you’re feeling, and let it move on. Research shows that practicing “mindfulness” actually your improves mood and your ability to manage your difficult emotions.
2. Lean on your social support. Friends and family can be your biggest source of love and support during this time, so use them to your full advantage. Don’t worry about being a burden, because the people who love you and care about you won’t see it that way. Whether you need to call a friend to vent about a post on social media or need a happy hour to distract you, utilize the power of friendship in your favor. Invite a friend to see a movie with you or play a sport. Friends are a perfect sounding board and should be supporting and empowering you. It may also be beneficial to try reaching out to a professional, such as a therapist. Sometimes an objective, 3rd party opinion is priceless.
3. Find a hobby, activity, or interest to channel your energy and aggression in. Take those dusty sneakers out from the back of your closet and put them to use. Exercise may become your new best friend after a break-up. Studies show that exercising releases natural chemicals in your body, like endorphins, that actually make you feel better and even happier. While it may be easy to lay on your couch for 5 hours at a time catching up on Netflix, playing video games, and watching award season movies, it is not doing your mind or body any favors. Having a normal exercise routine can prevent symptoms of anxiety and depression. If exercising isn’t your thing, take up another hobby such as journaling, listening to or playing music, taking a class, learning a new language, and so forth. These activities can serve not only as a distraction, but also as a way to remind yourself how awesome you are.
4. Cut off contact with your ex for an extended period of time. Talking to your ex is only going to confuse and hurt you and your ex. While it may seem difficult or impossible, this is the best way to cut ties and get over someone. This may also mean deleting their number and unfollowing or de-friending them on social media. If your ex reaches out to you, take a breath and evaluate the situation before you immediately respond. Ask yourself what good could come from this communication and what hurt could come from this communication. If you’ve taken some time to think and reflect on it, then go ahead and respond or don’t respond. Deleting their number will also prevent you from reaching out to them when you’re having a bad day or when you’re under the influence. Drunk texting and drunk dialing is never a good idea, so do everything in your power to prevent that from happening. Have a list of close friends or family members that you can call instead when you need that extra support or someone to vent to.
5. Use this time for self-reflection and focusing on yourself. Please, don’t jump into another relationship right away. Depending on how long you were with your ex, it may feel completely alien and uncomfortable to be alone. The best way to become the best version of yourself is to spend some time being alone and reflecting on what you like about yourself and what you would like to work on. You can learn something new and enlightening about yourself from every relationship you’re in. You will also learn what you need from a partner and what you will no longer settle for. Taking time to be alone and not pursuing new relationships will be vital to having relationship success in the future. If you jump into a new relationship before you’ve fully processed your last one, you run the risk of carrying baggage, such as fear and mistrust, into your next relationship. There is no specific time frame for how long you should be alone for, but it should be a gut feeling. If you’re still crying or upset when thinking about your ex, you probably aren’t ready to jump back into the dating pool yet.
I would also be wary of casually dating and rebound flings because you run the risk of sending the wrong message to someone else. You also may like the creature comfort of having someone to cuddle with at night, which may cause you to “slide” into a new relationship you didn’t mean to get into. Once you feel comfortable being alone with your thoughts and feelings for a period of time, then it may be time to dip your toe into the dating pool and see how it feels.
Bottom line, going through a break-up absolutely sucks. However, that does not mean that life will never get better and you will never meet someone else. Being afraid of having your heart broken should not hold you back from allowing yourself to fall deeply in love. The most important thing you can take away from a break-up is to process what you liked and what you didn’t like about the relationship and learn from it and grow as a person. The more comfortable you are with who you are and your sense of self, the more likely you are to find another happy and healthy relationship.
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