7 steps to a healthy and speedy recovery from a breakup - complete with breakup playlist
Anyone who has ever been in and out again of any kind of relationship - even those 3-week-long, holding-hand kinds in primary school - knows that breakups SUCK!
No one should make light of a breakup. One of the most important things in life is love of any kind, so you are processing the loss of one of life’s basic human needs.
At this stage in my life, I have been through a couple of breakups of my own. I have supported a hundred friends through different types of reactions to breakups and have read a fair few books on all things relationships, love and self-development. I now consider myself a bit of an expert on the dreaded break up.
But despite all the sobbing, journaling, screaming and crying at the slightest reminder, I have reached that point of absolute bliss and relief to no longer be with that person.
You see, after each of my breakups, something AMAZING has happened and I’ve realised…
Breaks ups are a great thing!
Yes really! They are a positive decision to IMPROVE your life. They are a move towards rediscovering yourself and a new level of independence, a life focused on you and only you. They are a step in the direction of a relationship that works better for your life’s goals and values. They are a leap towards happiness with another.
So let’s dive into my top tips to coping with a break up in a healthy and efficient way, that gets you to that euphoric I’m-over-my-ex feeling as quickly possible.
Step 1: Get those emotions out
If you are at that early stage and everything is super raw, my only instruction for you is to cry and feel how you feel.
Call in sick to work, watch your favourite movies, wear clothes that make you feel great, listen to Adele’s scarily accurate lyrics and really feel your feelings. If you try to suppress your feelings in times of heightened emotions, this only makes them build up and take longer to process.
Being sad is an unavoidable part of the process, so get the feelings out physically by talking it through, writing it down, and crying it out.
Step 2: Don't give in to communication temptation
Tie up all your loose ends immediately, swap your things over as quickly as possible and then don't speak. This may seem obvious but it amazes me how often people don't do this and I cannot stress it enough. Maybe you plan to stay friends, but that can come later.
Having a clean cut has an immediate effect on your thinking patterns, preventing any thoughts of ‘will we get back together?’, and ensuring all thoughts are focused on the future and moving on. You’re moving on to bigger and better things, there is no room for his ‘I miss you’ messages in your new single and fabulous life.
It takes 66 days to create a new habit, so you need AT LEAST 66 days to get out of the habit of texting/considering/regularly thinking about them in your day-to-day.
Step 3: Trick your mind with your body
In the same way your thoughts trigger your expressions, your expressions can trigger your thoughts. So sometimes, it can feel awkward, more than that, it can feel wrong and uncomfortable, but when you smile more day-to-day, even if you’re alone, you start to feel happier.
Watch stuff that makes you LAUGH. Michael Macintyre has helped me through some tough times. Spend time with your funniest friends. Do anything that causes a smile, and do it often. Don’t think positive - act positive.
Step 4: Let your endorphins do the work
While no one may be seeing you naked right now, for the sake of the endorphins and confidence exercise guarantees, get on it. And do exercise you actually ENJOY.
Is trampolining your thing?
Enjoyed that yoga class you used to take?
Love shimmying calories off with Zumba?
What form of physical activity makes you happy?
Those tubs of Ben and Jerry’s in the early breakup days need burning off, so whatever you chose, get going and enjoy it!
Step 5: Immediate, distracting action
In order to feel heartbroken, you have to go somewhere in our mind that makes you think about your ex. To lift that initial feeling of heartache it’s healthy to give your mind breaks from that place for short periods of time while acknowledging and accepting that when those activities are over, you will likely go back to that headspace. By creating fun distractions you start to lower the frequency of break up thoughts, giving you the chance to feel overall a little better.
This is where those snap-out-of-it friends come in. You know the tough ones who won’t except moping of any kind. Spend time with those friends, and try not to offload your emotional baggage onto them but be present and enjoy their company. Maybe get into a gym regime again, or go on holiday with friends or family. Go to a festival or start redecorating your home. The point is to be busy and distracted with fun and uplifting activities and people.
Step 6: Fulfilling and progressive action
Now you’re busy peppering your calendar with those distractions, it’s time to implement some long-term progression, taking you from distracted to fulfilled-and-on-a-mission. This is so important and also so exciting. You now have a chance to do something totally for you.
Maybe you go solo travelling around a continent you’ve been dreaming about. There’s nothing better than a dramatic change in culture, new people and the sense of excitement and fear travelling provides.
Perhaps you start a new hobby that meets once or twice a week and involves a big commitment.
Maybe now is the time to start that passion project that’s been bubbling at the back of your mind.
Perhaps you could take an existing hobby to a new level by signing up for a race/competition/advanced class.
The point of this step is to grow. Grow your confidence, friendship group, skills, endorphin levels and become a more rounded interesting person in the process. Doing something that will result in progression leaves a much stronger feeling with you at the end of the day. Progress moves you past the sadness. So broaden your vision to your whole life and make all areas FLOURISH.
What can you do for your family right now?
What’s causes are important to you?
What do you value but aren’t taking action on?
What hobbies do you miss and what to get back into?
What can you contribute to in the world?
What does this new stage of your life require you to learn?
What message is the universe sending you?
Step 7: Gratitude
It may seem cheesy or inefficient or pointless, but keeping perspective is so uplifting. Remind yourself of all the good that is STILL in your life and why you’re so great. Be aware of what you have from friends/family/your health/your job/the universe. What can you focus on that makes you remember you are lucky?
What choices do you have in your life?
What activities and traditions does this season bring?
What people are always there for you?
What can your body do for you?
What opportunities are there in your job?
Say/think/write down what you are grateful for EVERY DAY, and you really will feel good for it.
Today you are deciding to feel better, you are reminded there are 7.5 billion other people on that planet to give your love to and you are taking positive action. This too shall pass!
PS - Currently in a relationship?
In case you are reading this but happen to be in a relationship, I think it’s a useful reminder to build up your life in all areas. In the case of loss in one area - in this case, your relationship - you still have so much good to fill up your cup and it isn’t an end-of-the-world feeling. Nourish your friendships, maintain your hobbies, work on a thriving career, do what makes you happy regularly. If one of those drops off for a while you'll still have a lot keeping you afloat.