Whether you’re the dumper, the dumpee, or a “conscious uncoupler,” breakups are hard. There’s tons of advice about dealing with breakups and most of it involves a rebound, a Louisville slugger to both headlights, and a pint of Ben & Jerrys. Not to discount the power of Half Baked, but we both know that a pint of ice cream lasts about 30 minutes and while that might have been enough time to get over your middle school crush, it takes considerably longer to heal after a grown adult heartbreak. You need real, helpful tips for getting through this time with at least a shred of sanity left.
1. Sit in the Uncertainty…
When going through a breakup, it is normal to want to find any sliver of certainty in a chaotic situation. You Google things like, How long does it take to get over a breakup? and Stages of grief and Buying Ben & Jerrys in bulk (okay, that last one is unrelated, but still). You try to plan and control the situation to determine when you will be ready to move on. That doesn’t work. But remember: It is okay to be uncomfortable. Just sit in that discomfort, because you know what? This is hard. It just is. Ride it out.
2. …And Take Comfort in Routine.
While you are going through this transitional time, let yourself bask in the comfort of routines that still bring you joy. Make your morning coffee and drink it in bed. Go on your favorite Sunday-night walk with a friend. Re-read a favorite book and re-watch your favorite Netflix show. Schedule at least 30 minutes of something that brings you comfort and peace into every single day. Actually schedule it in: Add it to your Google Calendar and put it on the to-do list. Don’t let it get lost, because self-care is important work, especially during a break-up.
You might be feeling some horrible combination of devastated, confused, worthless, relieved, angry, afraid, embarrassed, or totally shocked. Feel those feelings. How? I want you to notice your emotion, name it, then validate it. Imagine you go check out your ex’s Instagram, and you find out they blocked you. You feel the blood drain out of your face and your heart gets tight in your chest. This is your emotion showing up in your body. Notice the way that it feels and how long it lasts. Name the emotion. In this case, it might be “anger,” or “shock,” or “sadness.” Now validate, validate, validate. Say something like, “I am angry, and that’s okay. This emotion is temporary. I am safe.”
4 …But Also Escape for a Bit.
While it is so important to not ignore the feelings that are showing up, it’s also okay to take a break. One of our favorite ways to escape is by reading a book: It feels so nice to take a break from the craziness of your own life and dive into the drama of characters’ lives. Plus, reading increases empathy and understanding. The same general effect can be achieved through pretty much any reality TV franchise.
5. Move Your Body…
Remember to prioritize gentle and joyful movement. Exercise releases endorphins which act as analgesics, which are basically natural painkillers. The endorphins from exercise are also known to improve your mood and decrease anxiety and depression. FYI: Punching a bag with your ex’s face taped to it totally counts. Bonus points for any movement you can do outside.
6. …And Rest
You might notice that things you could normally breeze through feel way more difficult when you’re going through a breakup. That is totally normal and there is actually a scientific explanation for it. Because our bodies haven’t caught up with our modern-day problems, they still think that stress = lions, tigers, and bears, so our fight-or-flight response kicks in. This is super adaptive, but not totally helpful during a breakup. It makes us hone in on the danger (making it hard to concentrate on day-to-day tasks), gets our muscles ready to run (leading to sore muscles, stiffness, and a flu-like feeling), keeps us on-guard (making it hard to sleep), and stops our digestive processes (meaning tons of stomach aches). In light of all of this, be intentional about building in time to move a little more slowly so you can actually take care of yourself without adding to the stress hormones that are already floating around in your body.
7. Know Your Normal.
If you notice yourself experiencing high levels of anxiety or depression, or if your mood is impeding on your basic functioning, you may need more support. Breakups are not easy and you deserve to be supported through that profoundly painful time. If you’re struggling, reach out to your doctor, a psychiatrist, or a therapist for some breakup counseling. If you are having any suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, know that you don’t have to be alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 for 24/7 support.
At the end of the day (and at the beginning… and in the middle), healing after a breakup is imperfect and bumpy. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you navigate the grief. And, of course, we highly recommend keeping a pint of ice cream handy, just for a little extra comfort and love.
About Estes Therapy
Here at Estes Therapy we like to put our minds together and collaborate on pieces in order to get the best content for our readers. So when you see a post by “Estes Therapy” it means we all worked together to provide even more well rounded information on these topics from the differing experiences and viewpoints of the team!