Breakups suck. There’s no denying it. And after going through the hell of the actual breakup, now you have post-breakup stress to deal with. It makes you feel sick when you wake up in the morning, it makes you less efficient at work.
I think we can all agree that nobody needs that on top of everything else we have going on. When it’s over, it’s over. Shouldn’t that be the case?
Well, good news, it can be. As it turns out, a lot of people can recover very quickly from the end of a relationship, even one that they were deeply invested in. All it takes is a little knowledge, a lot of self-care, and these handy tips.
Tip #1 – Know the process.
There are stages to any grieving period, and that includes grieving for a lost relationship. Knowing these stages can help you figure out where you are, and what you can expect from the future.
Everyone’s process is different, and the order and length of these phases may vary. However, this is more or less what you can look forward to:
Shock – right after the big moment, you might feel floaty and in disbelief for a brief period. Completely nonsensical behaviour and bad decision making are typical in this phase.
Resentment – Some people tend to respond with anger, others with sadness. Whatever it is, the first feeling you’re going to be overwhelmed by as soon as you’re out of shock will not be a pleasant one.
Hope – Which sounds great in theory, but is a really bad thing in this case. This is the phase in which we convince ourselves that there’s still a chance. Impulses to call or write to your ‘ex’ are hard to resist around this time.
Distress – Once hope is gone, distress settles in. This may feel like the worst place to be, but honestly, it’s a sign that things are about to get better. You’ll know you’re in this ballpark if you have a lot of “why me” thoughts. You can expect a lot of “this always happens to me”, “what did I do wrong” and, my personal favourite, “I will always be alone”.
Healing – It feels like you’ve been suffering from the flu for days and the fever just broke this morning. You may feel better but exhausted. You will still have ups and downs beyond this point, but this is the first sign that everything is actually going to be OK. This is the point you want to reach as soon as possible.
Tip #2 – Keep a handy list of what you need to get done.
The next few days are going to be intense and a lot of your mind might be preoccupied with your romantic troubles. It’s a good idea to sit down right now, take five minutes, and write down your major goals and deadlines for the next week.
You’ll need to include your work commitments, your household activities like buying groceries and paying bills, as well as any special events. It may seem silly now, but you won’t believe how distracted you can get when you’re busy feeling unlovable.
Here are some ideas of what you can include on this list:
- When are you going to need groceries?
- When do the bills need paying?
- What are your major work deadlines?
- Do you need to meet anyone/talk to any friends?
- Do you need to go pick up any items?
- Do you need to cancel any subscriptions, vacations, accounts you had in common?
- When can you set aside some time for yourself?
Tip #3 – And more importantly, a list of what NOT to do.
There are some very easy mistakes to make after a breakup that will send you spiralling down into a very bad place.
While you should totally take advantage of a moment of cool-headedness to write your own list, specific to your situation, here are some of the things it might include:
No calls, no texts – under no circumstances should you spontaneously write your recently-separated partner. No good will come of it.
No bargaining – in any conversations you might need to have after the fact, you absolutely must not try to negotiate your way back into another attempt at a relationship. Love is not a barter item.
No angry gestures – Deleting all of your photos together from Facebook in a fit of rage can leave you feeling awkward and embarrassed when the anger clears. There’s plenty of time to do those things later.
No sad status updates – You don’t want to be seen as the clingy one who begs for attention. A breakup is a private affair and doesn’t need publicizing.
No shutting down – while it might not be OK to vent on social media, do absolutely vent to your friends and loved ones. Closing a door on your emotions is not going to get you anywhere fast.
Check out our other popular page > When to Give Up on a Long Distance Relationship: 9 Deadly Breakup Signs
Tip #4 – Self-care is essential.
This is probably the most important, and most overlooked aspect of recovery. The worse the breakup, the more you need to focus your efforts on self-care.
This is essentially the process by which you’re going to turn an awful time into a less awful time filled with happy moments and positive changes. The plan is to distract yourself from the negative feelings and reinforce the positive ones.
What you actually do depends on what makes you truly happy. Since you’re going through a particularly hard time, feel free to allow yourself indulgences which you would normally feel guilty about.
Here are some ideas that might help you get a sense of what your self-care plan looks like:
Keep a good stock of a special treat for yourself at home – Every evening, you get to sit back and relax with a bowl of ice-cream/cup of hot chocolate/glass of wine.
Set aside some time, the sooner the better, to pamper yourself – Go to the spa, or bring the spa to your own bathtub at home.
Set aside a half hour each day for a sport – The endorphin you get from chocolate and wine is nothing compared to what a good workout will do to your system.
Invest in an activity – Get that video game you really wanted. Get that series of books you’ve been saving for. Spring for that Netflix subscription. You’re bound to have some extra time on your hands you won’t know what to do with, and you need to have a plan that doesn’t include thinking unhappy thoughts.
Turn that angry energy into a new skill – make a commitment to improving yourself, not only by learning from this experience but by genuinely learning something new. Instead of spending time arguing with your ex or talking the ear off of your best friend, spend that time learning Spanish or learning to play the guitar.
Be social – It’s OK to let your friends drag you out by your arms and legs and force you to have a good time. Even if it doesn’t feel that good at first, trust that it’s in your best interest to be around other people and let them be there for you.
Tip #5 – Make a change.
This one is my personal favourite. There’s a reason why some things have been around for as long as we can remember, and the story of the woman who gets dumped and gets a new haircut is older than the internet.
It may seem silly when you put it that way, but the truth is that a breakup is a major upsetting event in your life that you have absolutely no control over.
Counter-balancing it with a change that you absolutely do control is a great way to make you regain some of your composure and feel like you’re on top of your life again.
Here are some ideas of things you could consider doing that will refresh, reboot and re-energize you.
The tried and true method of changing your hair – get a cut, or a color, or both. It’s incredible how empowering it can feel to look good and know it.
Give up a bad habit – I know it seems like quitting smoking is the last thing you want to do right now, but how cool would it be if the new you had that accomplishment under her belt too?
Change your perspective – pack it up, cash in those vacation days, and go somewhere ridiculous. Pick a place where you would never have gone with your previous partner. Bonus points if you don’t speak the language!
Move your furniture – Grab that couch that you have a load of memories on, and put it somewhere else entirely. Cover it up in a bright, happy color. Move your bed, put your desk under a window. Worst case scenario? You don’t like it but get a great workout. Yay, endorphin!
Get rid of stuff – Empty out your closet, cosmetics drawer, or even hard drive. Donate everything you’re not really wearing. Throw out everything that’s old, expired or just useless. You’ll feel refreshed and liberated in no time!
Breakups suck. That part is still true.
But instead of treating this period of your life like a hot mess you want to leave behind you, you can treat it like an opportunity.
Don’t wander through it in a daze. Don’t let it cling to you for ages. While complete and total healing may not be available to you at the snap of a finger, the choice to do something good for yourself is.
If you make that choice right now, you can turn it into a habit that will get you out of this rough patch, and maybe stay with you for the rest of your life.
And which one of us wouldn’t want that?
See our other popular page > How to leave a toxic relationship with dignity
Words By: Alexandra Pana
Feature Image By: John Westrock