Whether you’re in your early teens or your late thirties, breakups suck. Even if you were the one who initiated it, navigating the end of a relationship can be a real struggle.
As someone who recently went through a breakup, I wish I could give you a way to get over it instantly. The truth is that it hurts an awful lot, and it’s probably going to hurt for a while, depending on the length and intensity of your relationship. While there’s no magic trick to make this process painless, you can take measures to ensure you go through this as healthily and peacefully as possible.
Get all the resources you can get, stat
Remember that you are not the first person to go through this, and you certainly won’t be the last. People have been breaking up throughout the course of history. As a result, you have plenty of available resources about how to cope with this.
After my recent breakup, the first thing I did was go online and gather all the information I could find: how to deal with my feelings, what to do with my ex’s possessions, what movies to binge watch, what kind of comfort food to eat. I told myself that if I was going to do heartbreak, I was going to do it right.
Of course, there is no one “right” way to experience heartbreak. We know what the usual breakup survival kit looks like -- sappy rom-coms, sad love songs on your Spotify playlist, and a box of chocolates. But that kit may be very different for you: maybe you can’t even stand the idea of romance right now, and would rather distract yourself with horror movies.
There's no one "right" way to process the pain of a breakup. Find what works for you.
At this point, trying to feel better is like grappling your way through a pitch black room: you fumble around in the dark, and if you happen to find something that feels stable, you hold on for dear life. Just make sure that what you grab is actually safe and solid. There’s a lot of advice out there - not all of it is good.
Use your support system
Going through a breakup is no piece of cake, and there is no reason to do it alone. There are a lot of obstacles that may stand in the way of you reaching out to other people: pride, embarrassment, not wanting to feel like a burden. Men especially seem to struggle with this, probably because our society discourages them from showing emotions. A study showed that while women seem to hurt more after a breakup, we also recover better in the long run - mostly by relying more on our support system.
If you don’t want to feel crowded, just call your closest friends. It can make a world of difference to have someone there to listen to you rant, offer words of encouragement, or even just a hug.
Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable talking about it with people you know personally. In that case, it sounds like the perfect time to schedule a venting session with one of our trained listeners.
Take your time
Everyone has their own opinion on how long it takes to get over a breakup. The important thing is to take your time: recovery is not something that can be rushed.
Ending a relationship can take a toll on all aspects of your life. You may be having trouble sleeping, struggling to go to work or school, feeling a lack of appetite and motivation. It’s not uncommon to experience symptoms of clinical depression immediately following a breakup.
I know how much it sucks to feel this way, and I know you want it to be over as quickly as possible. But you have to give yourself time, and most importantly, allow yourself to grieve. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling low or wanting to cry a lot of the time. Neurologically, your brain’s reaction to a breakup is similar to that of a drug addict going through withdrawal. Your pain is justified.
On the other hand, if you find yourself really struggling to move forward, you may want to consider therapy. If your grieving is beginning to affect your ability to function in everyday life - or if you’re having urges to harm yourself - please contact a mental health professional.
Remember your basic needs
When you’re going through the emotions of a breakup, taking care of your body may be the last thing on your mind. Health concerns go out the window: you either stay up tossing and turning, or oversleep and wallow in bed all day. You either struggle to eat anything, or can’t stop eating comfort food. And exercise? What’s that?
This is a normal part of the grieving process. But now more than ever, it’s essential to take care of yourself: the last thing you need is to get sick because of a weakened immune system.
There’s no need to start a diet or throw yourself into a new exercise regimen; just stick to the bare minimum: stay hydrated, do your best to eat three meals a day, and go on short walks to get some fresh air. It will keep your body strong, which will make you feel stronger emotionally - and better equipped to deal with the breakup.
Right now, it might seem like you’ll never be happy again. It’s okay to feel that way, temporarily. Just know that you will get through this. After some time (maybe sooner than you think) you will feel okay again. And one day, you’ll even feel happy - I promise.