It’s Over! 10 Tips for Turning Your Break Up into a Breakthrough
You just got dumped, or maybe you broke up with someone. You just want to curl up and retreat from the world.
It doesn’t matter if it was a long-term relationship, a short-lived cyber affair, an unrequited love or a good friends-with-benefits arrangement. If you cared and connected, you feel a deep and painful void where there was once laughter and affection. It’s like experiencing a small death.
Grieving over your lost love for a short time is understandable, but if you linger too long in the purgatory of how-it-used-to-be, your friends will eventually get tired of hearing you talk about your ex and advise you to “Get over it.”
You agree on some level. You know that you really ought to start getting on with life and move on. Every day starts with that intention. But every night ends with you wanting to call them, check out their Facebook page or look through old photos, just to feel closer to them.
Getting over it. Easy to say. Much harder to do.
And no wonder, because there’s a bio-chemical reason behind the desperation and despair.
Researchers who’ve looked at the brains of the lovelorn say that loss, especially rejection by a romantic partner, lights up areas of the brain that are associated with addiction. This can lead to psychological reactions that cause obsessive preoccupation with your partner, feelings of frenzied desperation, guilt over what you could have done differently and even physical pain. Letting go for good seems unimaginable.
Trust me, as both a relationship therapist and a veteran of countless breakups myself, I’ve seen it all and I get it. What I’ve discovered along the way is that you need a holistic approach to getting over a breakup, one that addresses the four core areas: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The following are highly effective strategies from the healing section my book using each of those four core areas to get you on the road to recovery from that breakup — fast.
1. Meditate, don’t medicate. Avoid overusing drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and coffee and resist the urge to stuff down your feelings using chocolate and food. You’ll only end up feeling worse about yourself. In times of stress, having a drink or eating a quart of ice cream may be tempting, but doing so will only cause you to spiral down into a depression, lose sleep and gain weight. Instead, take five minutes to sit quietly, meditate, practice yoga or deep breathing.
2. Eat healthfully and regularly. Your body can’t function properly without the proper nutrition. Don’t skip meals or resort to convenience food. Treat yourself as if you were your own child — eat wholesome meals that are balanced and freshly made.
3. Get plenty of sleep. There’s nothing more replenishing to your body than quality sleep. If you are having trouble going to sleep because of punishing, pain-producing thoughts, try this: Keep a journal by your bed, write down your anxieties and imagine them flowing out of you and onto the paper. Say, “I fully release you and let you go. I give myself permission to peacefully sleep.”
4. Exercise your blues away. The absence of pleasure-producing endorphins after a break up can make you feel sluggish and miserable. Exercise increases your endorphins. Join a health club, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to work, do some yoga or take a salsa lesson. Make a promise to do something active for 30 minutes a day for 30 days, no excuses.
5. Feel your feelings. Don’t ignore or stuff them down. Let the tears flow and express your anger. Ignored emotions will only make you calloused and afraid. One way of unloading your feelings is to write out what might be too difficult to say out loud to others right now. Or better yet, start a dialogue with your broken heart, asking this part of you questions and giving it the solace and attention it needs right now.
6. Surround yourself with smiles and happy vibes. Make time for some feel good activities — anything from having a cup of tea with a friend to taking the kids to the zoo to playing a round of golf. Be sure to surround yourself with people that will uplift you, not unhappy ones that will just drag you down. Studies have shown that laughter or just smiling has a way of lifting your mood instantly.
7. Stop obsessing. All those obsessive thoughts and instant replays of would of, could of, should of head trips must stop NOW. The best way to do it is to say,
“STOP!” If the thoughts won’t stop, then say, “NO! STOP NOW!” If they persist, then continue, “ENOUGH! NO MORE! STOP!”
Saying “STOP!” interrupts the obsessive thought process and breaks the cycle of pain. Immediately, redirect your thoughts away to something good that is happening in your life.
8. Take a 60-second vacation. Thinking relaxing thoughts and verbalizing calming statements starts the healing process and helps you lessen anxiety. Take a deep breath and say out loud, “I am calm. I am safe and I can handle this.” Anything from smelling a flower to petting an animal can help take you away for even a minute, which starts the
process of feeling free.
9. Gratitude is grounding. Have you ever noticed that it’s impossible to feel grateful and depressed at the same time? Gratitude can transform pain into love and bring peace to your emotional chaos. Remind yourself of all the things you’re grateful for. Better yet, write it down. This strategy works miracles for bringing you out of any gloomy mood.
10. Give to others. Studies show that the happiest people are ones who give the most to others. When you’re depressed, anxious or stressed, there is a high degree of focus on the self. Focusing on the needs of others literally helps shift your thinking and your mood from victimhood to empowerment.
When you’re feeling down after a breakup, you may feel like you want to avoid the very activities that will actually make you feel better — exercise, visiting friends, being kind to those in need. As much as you might want to, avoid isolating yourself from others. Ask for help and talk to a friend who you know is a good listener. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Don’t think of this as time wasted because you aren’t with that special person, but as precious time you need to reinvest in a healthier, more grounded and more spiritually enlightened you.
This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers, America’s leading love and intimacy expert, for The Huffington Post. To see original article, click here.
It’s so nice that you give so many way to deal with a bad breakup. There’s not always tough to get through, but when they are they really. It’s the emotional component that I struggle with. It’s good to know that I can work on my physical, mental, and spiritual selves first and work my way towards my emotional self.
I’m the same way, except for my it’s my physical self that I feel like I have trouble dealing with! Whenever I go through a bad breakup I tend to eat my way through it. Not only do I feel terrible afterwards, I know it’s the last thing I need to be doing in order to feel completely healthy again.
the last time i had a tough breakup i did that thing you mentioned where you write down what you’re grateful for and it seemed to work pretty well. it was still sad thinking that i was dumped but at the end of the day it helped me realize i had so much more than him anyway!
This seems like it’s actually a really good technique for dealing with a tough breakup. Hopefully I won’t have to use it anytime soon though!! :p
reading your post always makes me feel so uplifted. the holidays is a tough time for me seeing as my first serious boyfriend and I broke up about this time last year and I still haven’t been able to really move on. I know its been a year already but I find myself still getting hung up on him since we work together. Personally, number 10 helped me a lot. I put all of the thought that I would have put into his gift this year into gifts for my family and they really seemed to notice and appreciate it. Hopefully this time next year I won’t even remember any trouble like this!
Hi Sheri! These are really good reminders and I’m personally searching for how this can be applied to my relationship with my 2 older brothers. My oldest sister died unexpectedly last March, my other sister who is much older suffers from bipolar and so I have made my peace about that and stay away since it is not clear to me how to have a safe and healthy relationship with her. My oldest brother has a huge influence on the one I’ve been closest to but he offers me none of the comfort or care of what a good brother would… and recently, our father’s estate was settled… leaving the younger of the 2 brothers in charge of handling it. It’s been painful with these 2 guys for years but I had formed a relationship with the one who was always the one I had connection with growing up… the one handling the estate. I was so blessed to be in a relationship that offered me the financial means to not be very worried about what the brothers decided to do in regards to providing a gift from the estate since my father decided to leave me and my oldest sister (now deceased) out of his will. Both brothers decided to pass me over but the older one did give a gift to the husband of my oldest sister. The other sister has been a monster about everything and I decided to make my time with my brothers meaningful and felt we had a good quality of relationship. It’s complicated but in short, after realizing that neither of them had the intention to provide a small gift nor did they provide the paperwork that showed me what had actually happened, I realized I wanted to dump them… once and for all. Of course, that isn’t what I really want… but I feel I would never be able to be around them or their families again and feel even remotely comfortable. This weighed heavily on my over Christmas and now, after sending an email to encourage the one I’ve been the closest to to do the right thing, I realize I can’t speak further to him, I have no trust for him, I don’t want to be close to him, I don’t want to “be there” for him and his family anymore… in short, I feel like I need to dump these bad eggs and move on… especially since this comes with a ton of religious backwash and bears no true resemblance to a spiritually healthy course of action. So, my question is, since we sometimes live with family hurts the longest and I’ve made a permanent choice to disconnect from these family members and I know what it means to live without the support of family, how do I come to terms with the loss of people who I feel should really be in my life, providing a high quality of love and care, who I know never will correct this mistake? A boyfriend or lover leaving or dishonoring their connection with us is one thing and I’ve lived through those breakups… but now I really feel no hope of ever even wanting to be associated with either brother, their families, or even my brother in law… I feel the men in the family hung together to form an exclusive greed club and thankfully, I really did not need the gift… like ultimately or I would have died… but the point is that by taking it all for themselves, they have shown me something I will never respect and for me, that means, game over. Can I really let go forever in this life and accept with compassion the choices they made without feeling trapped repeatedly by the heavy feelings of loss, even when I am the one who chose to cut them off permanently?