The 7 Healthiest Ways to Deal With a Breakup
Last Updated: May 31, 2017
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There’s really no delicate way to put it: Breakups suck. It feels like you’ve lost a part of yourself. And you’ve certainly lost that person with whom you looked forward to going out to dinner or spending the weekend binge-watching Netflix. Nothing fun about that. But when it comes to moving on, a 2017 study from the Journal of Neuroscience says you can trick yourself into getting over an ex quicker and let your heart catch up later. This fake-it-till-you-make-it approach can soften that post-breakup period and help you come to terms without (too much) wallowing. Here are seven expert-approved actions you can take.
GET IT ALL OUT
Give yourself the space to mourn the end of the relationship. Really sit with your feelings and let yourself cry, be angry, get crazy (safely) — anything that comes up. “Give yourself permission to scream and rage,” says relationship expert Audrey Hope. “Find a place to do this releasing of grief: your bathroom, your closet, your backyard. You will release the storage bin of conflicting feelings, and eventually you will empty it all and feel whole again.” She explains that people suffer heartache because they try to rationalize away their feelings or bottle them up. Instead, express everything you need to express, then take a bath and go to bed early.
BREAK SOCIAL TIES
It’s impossible to move on when you keep seeing your ex pop up in your Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat feeds. (Or, let’s be honest, when you’re stalking his or her pages late into the night.) Either make a pact with yourself to take a social media hiatus or unfriend or unfollow your ex. “When you continue to follow your ex on social media, you run the risk of wounding yourself over and over again, which delays the healing process,” says leadership and relationship coach Jennifer Spaulding. She also suggests filtering your social media to showcase positive images, memories and uplifting news. “You’ll be surprised how small, positive boosts can add up to big ones over time,” she says.
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RID YOUR SPACE OF VISUAL REMINDERS
“Clearing your home of painful memories is a great step toward getting yourself on the path to a happier future,” relationship coach Jennifer Spaulding says. Box up those gifts your ex gave you and donate them, toss out the cards and letters he or she wrote you and give back any items he or she left behind so you don’t have to see them every day. “If you need to return items to your ex, I recommend dropping them in the mail or leaving them on a doorstep,” Spaulding says. “If you must exchange items in person, keep the meeting and conversation brief. This is not the time to rehash the relationship.”
Do some intense exercise or hit a punching bag, advises relationship expert Audrey Hope. “Physical external movement is a great release for the internal feelings that are locked in,” she says. “Hit something and get moving.” This will make you feel strong and powerful, which is typically the opposite of how you feel immediately after a breakup. As a bonus, your body will benefit from the exercise — so you’ll look and feel amazing too.
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According to matchmaker and dating coach Lori Salkin, one of the hardest things about a breakup is believing that the reason you and your ex didn’t work is because there’s something wrong with you. Take some time to remember how amazing you are by being with family or friends who will validate you, your goals and your values. Or try reading a book or seeing a speaker with a powerful and positive message. “The sooner you can remember how incredible you are, the sooner you will stop feeling depressed and experience the normal, healthy stages of going from sad to getting mad to letting go,” Salkin says.
BAN TALKING ABOUT YOUR EX
Ask your friends to not bring up your ex for a set period of time — a couple of weeks or a month — so that you can focus on other things when you hang out. “This is like if you’re trying to cut sugar or caffeine out of your diet,” says dating coach Lori Salkin. “You don’t sit around all day baking cookies and visiting Starbucks. You don’t want to be tempted to indulge.” Even if you’re still thinking about him or her, at least your conversations won’t continue to revolve around your ex.
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GET BACK OUT THERE
Once you’ve given yourself some time to “get it all out” (see slide 1), even if you don’t think you’re totally ready to find love again, just jump back into the dating pool. “Getting out there as soon as possible and meeting others is the best way to move on, whether or not you still come home and eat a pint of ice cream,” dating coach Lori Salkin says. “At least on the outside you will be pushing yourself to move on as fast as possible, while perhaps inside you may still be mourning the relationship.” Who knows? You may meet someone amazing, and he or she could be exactly what you need to get over your ex once and for all.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you ever dealt with a breakup? Are you in the process of dealing with one right now? How did you cope? Did you give yourself time to wallow, or did you try to distract yourself? Did anything in this list help? Share your stories and feedback in the comments below!
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