16 Ways You Can Get Over That Awful Breakup
What is it about breakups that can be so hard?! For me, the older I got the harder it became. There's something about breaking up with someone in your late 20s and 30s that makes you feel like your life is spiraling out of control and that time isn't on your side.
The holidays tend bring our romantic relationships into focus - whether you're single, happily married or in a relationship - they creep to the forefront of your mind. A recent study that analyzed Facebook statuses and Google searches reveals that "breakup season" is actually a thing and it happens twice a year. The first peak, dubbed the "Spring Clean," occurs in March, but the second largest occurs about two weeks before the winter holidays.
So, if you find yourself unexpectedly single and ready to mingle, just know you're not alone and there are plenty of other fish swimming alongside you in the sea of heartbreak. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but one thing's for sure...hard times are easier when you've got some company alongside you. So, let's look on the bright side...yeah?!
Sick of everyone and their mom (literally, in my case) telling you "time heals" or "you can do better?" Here are 16 tips to help you mend your broken heart and get your groove back.
GET YOUR PRIORITIES IN CHECK.
You've probably spent the last bit of time making someone else your priority and putting yourself on the back burner. That's about to change. You are your #1 priority. Practicing self-love puts you in a position to be able to be a better partner. Research shows that romantic rejection can actually result in real, detectable pain (it lights up the same pain center in the brain that lights up when you break a bone), so it's extremely important that you make taking care of your body a major priority. Get enough sleep, eat whole foods, use a dry brush daily, and do something active every day—even if it's just walking around the block—to trigger the release of endorphins. Breath work and meditation are also two free tools that are proven to help with pain, and luckily can be exercised anytime, anywhere.
Comparison is the thief of joy. You've seen this quote plastered all over Pinterest, but it's true and now is the time to put this mantra to practice in your life.
If you're comparing how you're doing with how it appears your ex is doing (social media stalking sleuths, I'm lookin' at you...and yes, I'm lookin' at myself too) or how you think you should be doing, it means you're exhausting far too much energy and time on something that will only result in lessening your joy.
IS IT WORTH IT? LEMME WORK IT.
They say the best cure for heartbreak is salt water - sweat, tears and the ocean. Maybe it's a good time for something new, like kickboxing (really get some of that rage out, amirite?!) or Zumba. It's cliché, but fresh air really does clear your head. So does, you know, seeing the sun every once in a while. Maybe you just need to get outside and stop sulking. Exercise doesn't just make you look good, it makes you feel good. Nourish your body, mind and soul by doing something active.
END THE BLAME GAME.
Stop blaming yourself for the breakup and thinking ridiculous things like, "If only I'd watched more Star Wars movies or dyed my hair platinum blonde or took more of an interest in underwater basketweaving." It takes two to break up — the problem wasn't just you, it was you two as a couple. It's almost reverse-narcissistic to blame yourself that much. If you try to look at the relationship from the outside, maybe you'll have an easier time seeing how you both contributed to the breakup.
Don't immediately suggest to "stay friends" — and if he does, tell him you need to think about it. I am so notorious for doing this and it rarely ends well. I hate a burned bridge, but I've learned the hard way that boundaries are oh so important. Suggesting to "stay friends" is an impulse - because you don't want to seem like you care too much about the breakup, because you're so chill, because you want everyone else to know you're so chill. In fact, you're so chill that your heart isn't beating. Aaand, you're dead. No, but really...not just being dramatic here. Attempting to be friends when you don't really wanna just be friends in painful AF. Truthfully, during this stilted, awkward breaking-up period, it's hard to tell whether you'll be able to be friends or not. Generally, one person wants to be friends and the other wants to be more. Gotta work that s*it out before it can be a healthy friendship…if it ever can be. Remember, you're not admitting defeat by not staying friends with your ex. You're not a failure. Protect your heart and accept the fact that this might mean cutting off the relationship cold turkey.
It's actually not abnormal to feel like you're going through withdrawals. In fact, going through a breakup is very similar because you're not getting all of those happy feel-good hormones (endorphins! oxytocin!) from your significant other. Remember that magical, butterflies in your tummy, blushing all the time rush of falling in love? Heartbreak induces the very opposite feeling, so be patient with yourself and acknowledge that it’s normal and human to feel like absolute garbage when you're dealing with a breakup. Even when it feels like everything is crashing down, you have to just know that it won't last forever...that is a promise.
DIGITAL, DIGITAL DETOX...JUST YOU AND YOU.
A breakup may happen IRL or on your phone, but breakups echo on Instagram, Facebook, the Twittersphere, text message, inboxes, screenshots and who knows where else. If you can't completely detox from tech for a bit, at least monitor how it's making you feel. If you are sent into a tailspin every time you see your ex’s text messages or when your ex's photos appear on Instagram's (I blame the "explore" page for keeping you connected even after an unfriending) it maaaaaay be time to take a digital detox.
Start by monitoring your phone usage with an app like Moment. Back photos and texts up, and then clear them from your phone. A digital detox does wonders for a broken heart.
HELP THEM HELP YOU.
It's totes normal to feel like you need to go into isolation and channel those introvert vibes. Talking about it can be exhausting and what's even worse is when you feel like your company is having pity on you because they know you're an emotional wreck. It's important to resist the urge to shut everyone out and force yourself to be around friends or family, even if it means watching reality tv together and not exchanging many words.
It helps if you tell your friends exactly how they can help. For example: "Will you go with me to that party next week so I don’t have to go alone?" or "Could you come over for dinner this week because I don't feel like going out?"
PEN TO PAPER.
Whether it's IRL, on your phone’s notepad, or in a self-care app like Mend, set aside time every day to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and goals for the week. Keeping a journal helps you keep track of your thought patterns and also helps you process your experience and craft a narrative around it so that you can mend your achy breaky heart. It's important to get it all out — on paper, so as to avoid accidentally sending them. I mean, let's be honest...I bet that's how Alanis Morrissette wrote "You Oughta Know."
Something that helped me during a tough breakup was writing letters to my ex in my phone's notes, rather than opening up SMS. I'd check the note the next day to see if I felt the same and 9 times out of 10, my thoughts had changed overnight. It helped me see the emotional progress I was making, but also helped me from sending text messages I'd regret later.
Pro-Tip: Write down three things you’re grateful for every day for a mindset boost.
WHAT DOESN'T KILL YA, MAKES YA STRONGER.
You need to constantly remind yourself that a breakup doesn’t mean you’re flawed to the point of no return. All the lies that flood your mind about being alone forever, never having a connection with someone again, too hard to start over again, nobody is gonna finish the last season of Sopranos with me, etc are not true. Seriously, I promise you this. Research by psychology professor Carol Dweck shows that when you have a growth mindset (AKA you believe you have the capacity to grow and learn from experiences) vs. a fixed mindset (AKA you believe you are unlovable or fatally flawed because of the breakup), you bounce back faster after heartbreak. So keep tabs on how you talk to yourself about the breakup and flip the script if you're feeling fixed.
TREAT YOURSELF LIKE YOU'D TREAT A FRIEND.
We tend to be understanding, rational, and empathetic when our friends come to us after their breakups, but where are we when we need ourselves most? One thing that can help you put your breakup in perspective is thinking about the advice you'd give your best friend. This helps you to practice more self compassion, and it can also increase your self-esteem. Your best friend thinks you're worthy of love and strong enough to get through anything, so why don't you?
KEEP IT OFFLINE.
Avoid posting the details on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram. Or Snapchat. Or Tumblr. Airing your grievances on social media is not good for anyone, and it'll be super embarrassing later. I know posting that meme about how your exes new flame is a total downgrade sounds like such a good idea right now, but trust me on this one - resist the need to share those salty thoughts online. Breakups are dramatic enough. The less you put out there the less stress you'll feel.
POSITIVE VIBES, POSITIVE MIND.
Yeah, I get it...it feels good to trash talk your ex with your BFFs. Hearing that you were better than them from the start feels like a drug, but don’t rely on it. Hearing your friends bring down someone who is making you this awful feels like it should be justified in the grand karmic scheme of things, but your health and happiness shouldn't be contingent on someone else’s pain and suffering. Wish them well. Keep your hands clean. You'll be so much happier you did.
GIVE IT A BREAK.
It can be tempting to wallow and ruminate over every detail 24/7, and your brain may try to do that, but it’s important to give yourself mental breaks. Distraction is okay (and healthy) if it’s not your number one coping strategy.
Go see a movie, engage in a philanthropic activity, exercise (S/O to Soulcycle for getting me through some of the darkest days my little heart had ever seen), grab rosé with a friend, do something you weren't able to do with your significant other (did he/she hate romantic comedies or the Real Housewives of Atlanta - great, nows your time to indulge and not have to worry about their annoying nagging) so that you can get some momentary relief, especially in the early days when the pain is overwhelming and you're more prone to obsessive thinking.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN.
Every time you choose to love, you get to know your heart a little better. And every time you go through a breakup, your heart becomes a little stronger. You also learn more about who you are and what you want, and that time of self-reflection is irreplaceable. Take this time to ask yourself the tough questions: Who am I? What do I want? What brings me happiness?
Let yourself sit still long enough to hear the answers. Go on walks, go to yoga - anything that helps you listen to yourself in silence will help.
One day, your life will be far busier than it is today - whether that's because you'll have kids or a more demanding job, etc - savor this time of singleness. Chances are you'll never get to be alone with yourself like this again.
THE HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS.
You miss your ex. It happens. Sometimes, even after it's been awhile, you'll be reminded of something and you'll miss them or some of the things they'd bring to the table. Missing someone is totally ok, so don't scold yourself if you're still having those feelings. Sometimes the heart just wants what it wants and you need to cut yourself some slack.
Missing is a sign that the person meant something to you. As Anne Lamott so beautifully says, “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
And maybe for you, you realize that it wasn't love at all, but the illusion of it. If that's you...congratulations. There's no better feeling than realizing quickly that you have let go of something that no longer serves you. Like I always like to tell myself, the best is yet to come!
Ultimately, every heartbreak has a silver lining, and your job is to tune in to yourself and figure out what yours is. You have complete freedom now to get clear on who you are and what you want from life. Harness your emotions and let them propel you forward into the next chapter. The glow up is real, y'all. Take this time to reinvent yourself into the person you've been longing to be.