Breakups are hard, there’s no denying that. Regardless of how long you were together, the reason for it, whether you did the breaking or were broken up with…they're just plain painful.
You’re losing someone you loved and/or cared about, losing how the relationship affected your life, and losing the future you might’ve thought you had. While there are many ways people deal with a breakup, they’re not always the healthiest. While it’s okay to sometimes do what you need to do, we also believe that it is important to find healthy and effective ways to heal, cope, and move forward after the end of a relationship.
But you don’t have to figure any of it out alone.
We’ve got 7 powerful ideas, each containing practical tips you can use this very minute, to help you deal with a breakup the best you can. Let’s dive in!
Important Truth: You Need to Grieve
Okay, we know we said we were going to hop right into it…but we can’t in good conscience write this post without first starting with this. Before jumping into any advice or starting to move forward, this truth needs to be the foundation of your healing journey: You need to grieve.
Grieving isn’t just for death, despite some misconceptions. Grief is a natural response to losing anything or anyone—including a relationship. Along these same lines, there is no set timeline for lamenting a breakup. Nobody would even think twice about telling someone how long or how strongly they should or shouldn’t grieve a spouse who passed away. The same rules apply here.
To clarify, we’re not saying a breakup is exactly like or as painful as the death of a spouse. Both experiences are incredibly painful in their own unique ways. In both cases, you're losing someone who was a part of your life and whom you cared about deeply. Therefore, the appropriate response for healing is to grieve.
So please know whatever feelings you’re experiencing are normal. Acknowledge and accept your feelings—they won’t last forever. Talk about what you’re feeling with someone you trust. And remember that you still have a future and moving on is possible—even if it takes time.
Dealing with a Breakup: Give Yourself Compassion for The Journey
Grieving is painful. It’s even more painful without any self-compassion. Giving yourself compassion while healing means not putting expectations on yourself for how you ‘should’ feel or what you ‘should’ do. Don’t be surprised or upset with yourself if you find that some days you don’t feel sad or angry about the situation. Or, on the flip side, if some days you still feel ‘too much’—which side note, there’s no such thing as ‘too much’ anyway. Give yourself space to feel and be, whatever that might look like in the present moment.
Giving yourself compassion also means speaking kindly to yourself and your mind, and cutting out those internal voices that don’t do the same. During difficult situations, it’s easy to believe lies about ourselves or our recent relationship.Things such as ‘he/she never really liked me, ‘I’m a failure’, ‘I’m unlovable’ or ‘that was a waste of my time’. While breakups certainly suck, that doesn’t give you an excuse to beat yourself up or forget all the good that was in the relationship. Practice recognizing these lies, speaking truth over yourself, and surrounding yourself with people who will do the same.
Practical Tips for Self-Compassion:
Speak to yourself the way you would imagine speaking to a close friend or family member in your shoes
Practice being curious and asking questions about your feelings such as 'what's causing me to feel this?’ or ‘what is this feeling telling me?’ rather than judging yourself for what you’re experiencing
When you start to feel upset, do something you love or something kind for yourself
Write down the lie you’re believing, cross it out, and then write down the truth 3x in a row
Dealing with a Breakup: Give Yourself Healthy Space
Space to grieve. Space to breathe. Space to feel. Space to just be. A lot of times we want to busy ourselves and ‘get over it already’ when the breakup first hits. However, a lot of healing comes from us not rushing our feelings or the timing, and instead allowing ourselves to actually feel the anger, sadness, and heartbreak—even though we know it is so painful. Also, don’t let anyone else dictate whether or not you’re sad, how you feel, or how long you grieve for. Everyone is different and only you know what’s right and best for you.
While setting aside time to grieve and heal on your own is healthy, there is a tendency at times to distance ourselves from people who love us out of embarrassment, fear of more rejection, or pain. Isolating yourself or completely cutting yourself off from civilization for days or weeks on end will often make the pain even worse. So, take time to be with just you, but when you’re ready, also allow others to help you heal as well.
Practical Tips for Healthy Space:
Take at least 1 day a week or an hour a day to be alone with yourself
Pick 1 or 2 people in your life who you can reach out to each week
Practice acknowledging what you’re feeling (this app is a great tool for this)
Journal and jot down your thoughts
Call up a friend to vent
Write a letter to your ex but don’t send itAllow yourself space and time to get your feelings out
Dealing with a Breakup: Plan Things Outs
When a relationship ends, you likely have a lot more free time on your hands, especially on the weekends. This can be difficult to deal with when you’re used to that time and space being filled by someone who is no longer in your life. While it’s not bad to relax or take some time to yourself, it can really help to plan out activities so that you’re not sitting alone in your sadness when your extra free time comes around.
Even if you’re not a huge planner, make an effort to arrange at least one thing during the week or weekend so that you have something to look forward to. This can also be a great way to add new memories to a space that holds memories from your previous relationship. Have a girls night at your apartment, grab a drink and watch a sports game with the guys, invite your friends to go bowling at your regular spot or get dinner at that special restaurant. You’re not trying to erase past memories that were good; rather, making new memories to fill the hole that a relationship ending often leaves.
Practical Tips for Planning Things Out:
Take the next day to plan one fun event for you and friends and invite them
It doesn’t have to be fancy. A low-key game or movie night at your apartment is great.
Dealing with a Breakup: Lean Into a Hobby
As we discussed above, when a relationship ends, you’re going to have a lot more time on your hands. As we mentioned above, space is healthy, but it’s also helpful to find something to fill some of that time. Hobbies are a great way to do that!
Do something you love or pick up a hobby that maybe you didn’t have a ton of time for while in your previous relationship. Or go out on a limb and explore a new interest you have. Not only do hobbies give you something fun to look forward to, but they can also teach you a lot about yourself and what you love. Depending on what the hobby is, you may also meet some new people.
Practical Tips for Hobbies:
Do something creative: learn a new instrument, paint, write, crochet
Move your body: join a gym, find a group exercise class, dance to your favorite song in your living room
Engage your mind: read, listen to a podcast on a topic that interests you, do a puzzle
Try something new: learn to cook or bake, either on your own or find a cooking class near you
Dealing with a Breakup: Take Care of Yourself
We get it. Breakups are painful, and that pain can make you want to lay in bed all day, crying and eating nothing but chocolate.
Not that that isn’t valid every now and then, but taking care of yourself—physically, mentally, and emotionally—is an important part of your healing journey. Our bodies are so connected. Not doing great physically makes it harder to handle your emotions, which then makes it difficult to reframe your thinking, which can negatively affect your mental health.
Something that can help you look after yourself is paying attention to what you need without guilt or judgment. Whether that’s a specific food, a good cry session, or to be alone for a minute, you know what you need to cope in healthy ways. Also, allow yourself to feel your feelings—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Try not to numb out with things like sex, food, drugs or alcohol, or mindless scrolling to cope. When you feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally, grieving a breakup and finding ways to move forward in life become easier.
Practical Tips for Taking Care of Yourself:
Get your sleep (although not all day as too much sleep can create grogginess and fatigue)
Move your body in ways you enjoy
Nourish your body consistently with meals and/or snacks.
Talk to loved ones
Pray or meditate
Practice breathing techniques
Get out in nature
Let your emotions out in a healthy way—journal, cry, punch a pillow, etc.
Acknowledge and accept whatever you're feeling
Do something that relaxes you—watch a movie, treat yourself to something you enjoy, read a book, go for a walk, etc.
Dealing with a Breakup: Reach Out to Someone
The people in your life who love you—your friends, family, community—want to help you through this. You don’t ever have to carry the pain of a breakup alone. Having a support system by your side can make a world of difference in how you grieve, cope with, and eventually move on after a relationship ends.
Sometimes this looks like having 1-3 people you know you can reach out to. But, oftentimes, once you open up about a breakup, your loved ones will want to reach out to you. When they do, allow them to step in and support you—whatever that might look like for your specific situation. Leaning on people for support helps show you that you are loved and not rejected, which is something breakups can often make us believe. These people can also help you make plans, encourage you, sit with you while you cry, listen to you, remind you of truths, and so much more.
Practical Tips for Leaning on Others:
Pick 1 or 2 people in your life who you can reach out to this week
Tell someone what you need (a hug, food, listening ear, or friend to hangout with)
Say “yes” when somebody offers to do something for you
Dealing with a Breakup: Eliminate Triggers
Okay, so we know you will never be able to remove all triggers or things that remind you of your ex and the relationship you shared.That’s not the goal here. Instead, we are encouraging you to do what you can (aka what is in your control) to remove yourself from those reminders. This can be key immediately after a breakup when emotions are running pretty high.
Examples of this include:
Removing anything of theirs that you still have, or at least hiding it away so you can’t see it
Unfollowing that person on social media
Muting mutual friends on social media who may post with that person
Change your routines (i.e. new coffee shop) if that was something you did together
You don’t have to do it all at once, and of course, follow what you think is best for you and your heart. It can just be difficult to move on and heal if you’re constantly reminded of that person and/or relationship. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try picking 1 trigger to eliminate every few days so that you can process better over time.
Last, But Not Least…
As we wrap up, we want to leave you with one final, crucial truth. We started this post with the important reminder of allowing yourself to grieve, and we hope that the 7 tips that followed gave you practical ways to do just that. But the final reminder we want you to hear from us is:
Your worth and identity are not found in your relationship status.
You are loved and cared about, you are valuable, you are worthy, and you are going to get through this. We’re on your side and we believe in you!