Once you’re over the denial and the “I’m going to win my ex back” stage, you realize how important it is to figure out how to heal a broken heart. If the pain and anguish start to negatively affect the way you live, it isn’t something you can delay any longer. The fact that you’re here is probably a good first step.
Pop culture will have you believe that without a stint with depression and growing your beard out or getting bangs, you won’t be able to shake off the hurt. We’re here to tell you that when you approach it the right way, this pain can become a lot more manageable, and that too without getting those impromptu bangs.
With the help of counseling psychologist Kavita Panyam (Masters in Psychology and international affiliate with the American Psychological Association), who has been helping couples work through their relationship issues for over two decades, let’s answer the question, “How to heal a broken heart and move on?”
How To Heal A Broken Heart? 15 Expert Tips To Help You Move On
When you’re trying to overcome heartbreak and depression, no place looks more enticing than your bedroom. No outfit looks better than your PJs, and the preferred mode of recreation is to let Netflix play whatever it damn well pleases.
The “Just cheer up!” advice you get from your friends boils your blood, and you may even feel dissuaded from sharing your pain with loved ones who really care.
A breakup, especially after a serious relationship, ends up taking over a lot more of our thoughts than we’d all collectively care to admit. We know it’s hard, and finding a way out whilst remaining hopeful seems impossible. To help you on your journey, here’s what you need to do:
1. Acknowledge it’s over
The very first step in learning how to heal a broken heart is to come to terms with the fact that whatever you had is now a thing of the past. “Taking another stab at it” won’t do you any good. No, your ex is not pining for you. No, a makeover won’t make them text you. It’s one of the hardest, yet most important things need to come to terms with.
“We keep ruminating over the good times and the emotions you felt. It ends up putting you in a loop, where you remain in the relationship, at least in your own mind,” says Kavita. “As a result, you give yourself false hope and end up idolizing the whole thing.
“Accept that it is over. It was a mix of good and bad and now it has run its course. Once you believe it’s over, only then can you begin to heal spiritually from a broken heart,” she adds.
Related Reading: 10 Best Positive Things To Do After A Breakup
2. Learn what you must from it
Even if your dynamic was inherently toxic, it wasn’t a waste of your time. No matter how bitter the breakup might’ve left you, the fact that you were involved in something like this is nothing but a learning experience.
“Once you move on from any hopes of trying to ‘fix’ it, you accept the fact that you must let go and realize things about yourself as you do. The relationship has served its purpose, and there’s nothing more to do in the hopes of trying to rekindle it,” says Kavita.
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3. Offer yourself a healthy dose of closure
Moving on without closure is hard, to say the least. When a relationship ends with lingering hostility and blocked social media accounts, it’s bound to eat away at you. “When closure doesn’t come from the other person, when you’re not even told about why the breakup is happening, it’s better to give closure to yourself,” says Kavita.
“You can repeatedly tell yourself that your dynamic has run its course and it’s not going anywhere else. Or, you could take a more literal approach and talk to a pillow, pretending it’s your ex. This simple exercise where the communication is coming from you can help you move on without closure, even if it seems bizarre at first,” she adds.
4. Understand why you got into it in the first place
When you’re figuring out how to heal a broken heart, introspecting on why you made the decisions doesn’t sound all too appealing. Even so, the more you learn from the experience you just went through, the more you can make sure it never happens again.
“By analyzing your attachment style and what led you to the relationship, you’ll gain major insights into how you will respond to the breakup and what you need to do,” says Kavita.
“Think about whether you display a secure, avoidant, ambivalent, or disorganized attachment style. The trouble arises when you realize yours is an ambivalent style since they usually depend on the other person to run their lives.”
“The disorganized can struggle as well since they wanted the relationship yet didn’t want it at the same time. Understand your attachment styles and you’ll find it a lot easier to heal a broken heart with the science behind it,” she adds.
5. Allow yourself to go through the stages of a breakup
Your quest to overcome heartbreak and depression will be halted unless you let yourself process the feelings. The longer you try to find your answers at the bottom of a bottle or in the parties you’re attending to distract yourself, the longer you’ll delay getting better.
“The stages of grief, which are, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, are also the steps to how to heal a broken heart. You might lose yourself in questions like, “‘Why did this happen to me?” or “Why can’t I change it?”, “Is my life over now?”, but it’s important to understand that it’s only a part of the process.
“Try not to dwell on the questions you’ll be asking yourself, and make sure you don’t contact your ex during these stages either,” says Kavita.
6. How to heal a broken heart: Employ the no-contact rule
The no-contact rule means not being in communication with your ex, for however long it takes to get better. Kavita tells us the importance of making sure you remove all forms and temptations of communication while figuring out how to heal a broken heart and move on.
“A person who inflicted the heartbreak on you probably won’t be the person who will help you come out of it, since you’re still attached to them. More than the feelings of love, it’s attachment that we have a hard time shaking off.”
“Therefore, it’s absolutely vital to cut off communication with your ex. No chats, no calls, no stalking their social media, no talking to common friends. Give it at least 30 to 60 days for it to be a considerable detox.”
By the end of it, you’ll also be in a better position to interact with your ex if need be, but you’ll do so without any negativity or hope attached.”
Related Reading: How To Move On When You Are Still In Love With Your Ex?
7. Find a good support circle
When you decide to go it alone, all you’re inadvertently doing is deciding to delay your growth as much as possible. Trying to deal with the pain alone can do more harm than good, something you’ll realize when you’ve been stuck in the grief stage for the longest time.
“Find a good circle of people who care about you enough to pull you out of your comfort zone, i.e., the grief you feel. Try not to reject help from loved ones, and don’t be too stubborn about wanting to stay in mourning,” says Kavita.
“Only when you’re willing to let people in and help you can they actually do so. Tackling ‘how to heal a broken heart’ all alone won’t end up very well for you,” she adds.
8. Work up a sweat
Perhaps there’s some truth to all the “just come outside for a hike, you’ll feel better” advice your friends give you. If you’re looking to heal a broken heart and the science behind it, studies have told us that exercise, when coupled with therapy, greatly alleviates symptoms of depression.
Kavita shares her insight on the subject. “When it comes to depression, then the only thing that can help you immediately is a good dose of exercise. As you pump up a sweat, the feel-good hormones enter your body and you start feeling more hopeful about the future.”
When you’re looking to fight the physical symptoms of heartbreak, exercising is probably the best way you can do so. Go out and hit the gym, your heart, body, mind and soul will thank you for it.
9. Acknowledge that your relationship was not perfect
“We tend to forget about all the things that went wrong, and focus on the infatuation we had with our ex,” says Kavita. Once a relationship ends, we tend to only remember the good parts, and we end up putting it on a pedestal.
“Look at the entire experience completely, and not only at the good parts. If anything, you need to pay more attention to the bad parts and figure out why it led to a breakup. Scrutinize that carefully and understand that this had to happen. The more you think about it, the more you’ll realize it would’ve been a lot worse had it continued,” she adds.
10. Take care of yourself
No, what they show in the movies is not what you have to go through. A period of belligerent drinking isn’t necessary, and gaining weight after a breakup is something you should definitely avoid doing. If you truly want to know how to heal a broken heart, believe us when we say that it doesn’t involve self-negligence.
“Self-love is all about mindfulness. How you eat, what you wear, how you look, whether you’re sleeping enough or not, whether you’re socializing or not. Partake in the hobbies you might have let go of, don’t indulge excessively in vices like drinking and gambling,” says Kavita.
11. Don’t set a deadline on healing
When figuring out how to heal a broken heart, don’t set certain deadlines for yourself to adhere to. “If things don’t happen fast, try not to get dejected, it usually takes a certain amount of time to get over a long-term relationship,” says Kavita.
“I’d say anything between six months to one year is somewhat the time range it takes to completely heal after processing your baggage. Even if you don’t make considerable progress in three months, thoughts like ‘something is wrong with me, I’ll never come out of this’ shouldn’t be going through your mind,” she adds.
12. Don’t let insecurities get the better of you
A breakup can end up feeling like a rejection of who you are. What follows any rejection of such magnitude is a series of questions that bring with them an onslaught of self-doubt and insecurities. Kavita tells us the damage this can cause.
“Thoughts like ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘This happened because of me, I’m doomed’, and even ‘I won’t find anybody else’, are all too common, even though they shouldn’t be. Realize that it takes two to tango, so both of you probably had something to do with the dynamic coming to an end.”
13. Analyze what you did wrong
Once you end things with someone, it’s very easy to play the victim card and try to shift the blame onto your ex. But whilst figuring out how to heal a broken heart, it’s important to take an unbiased look at what went wrong, including that time your voice had the harshest ring to it. You might not have even realized you were the problem in your relationship.
“Take a look at the contributions that led to the breakup. This step comes much later, once a substantial amount of learning about how to heal a broken heart and move, on has happened. Think about your behavior, your speech, your actions, even your thoughts. The dysfunctionalities might have acted as a catalyst to the breakup,” says Kavita.
Related Reading: How To Get Over Someone You See Everyday And Find Peace
14. Submerge yourself in new routines
Now that you have all this time on your hands, you’re probably going to use it how most of us in the throes of a breakup do: overthinking your relationship while Netflix plays in the background. Since you already know that’s not something you should be doing, Kavita tells us how to tackle this problem.
“Think about the tasks you want to achieve in a day, keep a schedule and focus on your professional career. If you’re in college, pick up a few extracurricular activities and focus on them. Think of it as a new beginning, create a new routine and make sure you stick to it.”
15. Try not to compare with your coupled-up friends
It’s almost uncanny that when you’re doing your best to heal spiritually from a broken heart, all you’ll ever see around you is signs of love. Suddenly, you start seeing everything in pairs of 2. When all the romcoms and the Instagram couple photos of your friends get too annoying, Kavita tells us it’s okay to take some time for yourself.
“If meeting friends who are in relationships has got you annoyed, it’s absolutely okay to tell them that you need some time off before you can hang out with them again. We tend to compare ourselves with people who have their partners with them, and you may end up feeling inferior because of it. In such cases, it’s okay to take time off for yourself and remind yourself of the benefits of being single.”
How Long Does It Take To Heal A Broken Heart?
Putting down an absolute time frame for something as subjective as learning how to heal a broken heart and move on would be futile. At the end of the day, we all process our emotions differently and take different amounts of time to learn what we need to.
With that being said, as Kavita pointed out, it might end up taking anywhere between six months to a year or longer, if need be and as each individual case may be. However, it’s not the time frame that Kavita wishes to focus on. Rather, she tells us how we should view the entire process of recovery in the first place.
“Treat your recovery as a makeover factory, not as a garage you dump your problems in so you can forget about them. Spend some time finding and rediscovering finding yourself. Join a course, pursue a hobby, get back to your old hobbies.”
“At the end of the day, you have to embrace the new life waiting for you. Thinking things like ‘I can’t live without that person’ or ‘I don’t have a life without her/him’ are all manifestations of attachment, not love.”
“Love doesn’t need a relationship; it can be cultivated without one as well. The day you realize that you don’t need a relationship to care for someone and bless them on their way, your grudges will fade.”
Figuring out how to heal a broken heart seems impossible when you go it alone. Try to remind yourself that you have help around you, in the form of loved ones who truly care. We hope the 15 tips we laid out will help put you back on your journey towards self-discovery again.