By: Rachel Gracia, MA, LPC
- Allow Yourself To Feel Terrible.
Major breakups are horribly painful. Then there are the colossal ones, the ones you never saw coming with the person you were certain would never leave your side. It is perfectly normal and even expected to feel destroyed. Try not to run from or push away these feelings. No, we can’t dwell on the pain 24 hours a day, which is why some amount of healthy distractions can be vital. However, not acknowledging the pain you feel is harmful, and will only delay the process of healing.
- Be Kind To Yourself.
While I mentioned that we must feel our way through tough emotions, this is far easier said than done and can be excruciating. Frankly, sometimes we do less than healthy things to try and feel better. Forgive yourself for the actions you took post break-up that were not in your best interest. You were doing the best you could given a hard situation, and you are not an expert on heartbreak recovery or always aware of what is needed to help heal your heart. Break-ups are messy, and the healing process is not always going to be pretty or entirely productive. When you get to the other side of this (which you will), you will see just how strong you really are.
- Use Your Support System.
We are not solitary beings; we need others to help us through tough times. When we feel at our worst, we may want to shut out those who love us for fear of burdening them. Those that love us, however, want to be there for us and can be invaluable on the journey to healing your heart. Lean on the good people in your life. There will come a time when they need you and you will have an opportunity to return the favor.
- Take Care Of Your Physical Health, Too.
There is a strong connection between our physical health and our mental health. Stress and anxiety can lower the immune system and cause us to become sick more often. Good nutrition, hydration and sleep are very important and should not be neglected, especially during trying times. It is scientifically proven that exercise can elevate and enhance one’s mood as well as reduce anxiety and stress. Even the smallest amount of physical activity can be beneficial during this time. Try and take care of yourself the best you can.
- Cut off Contact.
Cutting off contact with your ex, even if temporarily, can be a healthy and sometimes necessary choice. It is not childish to remove your ex from social media. If you find yourself checking their page every day and feeling worse – go on and block them. If their posts and photos are painful to see when they pop up on your feed, well then unfollow away! Cutting someone from your life after the end of a relationship can be jolting and gut-wrenching, but staying in contact with that person in a friendly way prolongs the recovery process and may prevent you from moving on to a life that they are no longer a part of. I’m not saying you can never be friends with an ex, but it may be best to wait until you’ve fully healed. With some relationships, remaining friends will never be healthy and may even cause problems when you choose to date again.
- Find Meaning.
I don’t necessarily believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that it is possible to find meaning in every event. Try to look at what you learned from the relationship as well as the break-up itself. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about what you want/don’t want in a partner? Dwelling on wasted time or decisions you regret serves no purpose post break-up. If you are going to look back, take the lessons learned and only that – and then move forward as best you can.
- Time Heals.
It may be cliché, but the meaning contains an abundance of truth. It usually takes longer than we expect to get over someone we loved. Time with a broken heart can seem to move at a glacial rate. However, the further you get from a break-up, the more perspective you gain. With time, logic and reason seep in and emotional responses fade. The pain you feel now is not permanent. Remind yourself of this.
- Setting Personal Goals Will Help Shift Your Focus To The Future.
Initially your goal may be to just survive and carry on with your day to day life. Identifying personal goals can help motivate you to push forward and look towards the future. They may also help to shift your focus to something other than your break-up or the fact that you are single. Goals can give us a sense of meaning and purpose when we are feeling lost. Redefine this period of your life and use it as an opportunity to focus on yourself and what you want to achieve.
- You May Not Get The Kind Of Closure You Want.
The end of a relationship can be especially hard to swallow if the one leaving does not provide reason for his or her departure. It may be that they don’t know themselves, or perhaps they don’t want to explain. Unfortunately, you may never get the answers that you are searching for. We are left with only the fact that they are gone, but that is enough to move forward with. Sometimes it’s necessary to let go and move on knowing that you deserve someone who is fully committed to you.
- You Will Love Again.
You may feel after you’ve lost “the one,” you will never find another that you feel as strongly about or are compatible with. This could not be further from the truth. Try not to succumb to pessimism. Instead, recognize and embrace the signs and feelings of hope. There will come a time when you inevitably meet someone who reminds you that there are still amazing people out there. When you least expect it, someone will enter your life and suddenly you will feel butterflies again. This feeling of hope and promise is a gift, not to be discounted. This is not necessarily the person you will end up with, or even date – but this person is proof that there is more love in store for you. It shows that you are capable of loving again someday, and that there are special people still out there for you. When you feel this for the first time since your break-up, it’s a game changer. It usually is a sign that you have done a great deal of healing and are ready to move on. Use this to propel you forward and be grateful for those gems of humans that re-ignite this hope within you.