When all of the Marriage Story-style fights are over, when the push and pull of a nasty breakup finally subsides, all that’s left is the sinking feeling that follows your breakup. It may make you feel like nothing is ever going to be the same, and figuring out how to feel better after a breakup seems like wishful thinking.
Not because you don’t want to get better, but because you don’t know how to. Your friends may tell you about all the fish in the sea or that elusive new club you should go to, but finding the motivation to embrace the many prospects your newly single status brings with it can often be the hardest part.
By now, you probably know that your breakup buddies Ben (& Jerry) and Jack (Daniels) can’t give you the answers you need. Allow us to swoop in with some tips to help you get back on your feet, with psychologist Shazia Saleem (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation and divorce counseling.
9 Ways To Feel Better After A Breakup
No, you don’t necessarily get under someone to get over someone. No, going over their photos in your gallery over and over again is not going to help. No, re-reading old chats won’t help either. Nor will stalking their Instagram.
Don’t hit that call button next to their name that you’ve been staring at. Don’t binge-listen to Taylor Swift, and no, bangs don’t suit you. The point is, you pretty much already know what you shouldn’t do to heal from a breakup, but we end up indulging anyway.
To understand how to get over a breakup, learn to listen to your inner critic more. When you’re able to stop making destructive decisions that you know are bad for you, you’ll have fewer nights where it takes an army of friends to keep you from calling your ex at 2 a.m. Of course, that only happens when you let yourself feel your feelings and accept the breakup. Let’s take a look at all the things to do after a breakup that can help you achieve just that:
1. The best and the toughest way to heal from a breakup: The no-contact rule
You probably didn’t expect this list of ways to feel better after a breakup to start off with something that’s going to make you feel terrible, at first anyway. However, as Shazia says, “The no-contact rule, most of the time, works wonders to help you move on. It follows the adage, “Out of sight, out of mind”.
“However, the pain that comes immediately after cutting off this person from your life can be devastating. To counter that, I believe the antidote is acceptance. Things will eventually start getting better once you accept that the relationship is truly over and that it’s okay to feel your feelings, to be sad, and to grieve.”
It may not make you feel better immediately; it may even make you feel a million times worse in the short run, but what we’re aiming for is long-term growth, not a short-term fix. You can’t let a wound heal if you keep plopping open the stitches under the garb of “closure”, right?
Related Reading: 5 Signs The No-Contact Rule Is Working
2. Talk to people about it
We’re not asking you to turn into Debbie Downer and constantly complain about your failed relationship to every random person you meet, but talking about how you’re feeling and what happened with people who care about you can help a lot.
Though we know that talking to people we trust can be one of the best things to do after a breakup, we often give in to the temptation of wanting to shun everyone away. Trust us, when we say that locking yourself in your room on weekends isn’t going to help you. If you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who want to help and want to see you feel better, reach out and talk to them.
PS: Even if you don’t want to talk crap about your ex, some degree of it will roll off your tongue when you’re talking to people you feel comfortable with. And boy, does that help.
3. Give yourself time and be kind to yourself
Understanding how to feel better after a breakup largely depends on your being kind to yourself. You can’t force yourself to be happier after a week or hate yourself if you still miss your ex after a considerable amount of time has passed.
However, it’s also possible that you might end up letting your negative emotions take over and feel sadder over time. Shazia sheds some light on how you can avoid that. “Practice self-kindness. To eventually feel normal after a breakup, it is imperative that you are kind to yourself and know that the journey will take a while, especially if you think you’re struggling with depression after a breakup.
“Look after your body, your mind, your soul, and acknowledge the emotions of sadness and loss that you are feeling. Most of the time, people become sadder over time because they resist the initial pang of grief. Once you allow yourself to feel your feelings and not run away from them, you will also begin to understand how to feel better after a breakup.”
4. Keep yourself busy
Sure, you’re probably going to hear this piece of advice every time you bring up your dilemma of how to feel better after a breakup, and we know that it’s not always super easy to keep yourself busy, especially when you’re not even motivated enough to make plans.
“If you’re not really looking forward to keeping yourself busy and lack the motivation to do anything, know that it’s okay to be that way as well,” says Shazia, “It’s impossible to immediately make yourself feel better after a breakup, and it’s okay if you’re taking your time.
“We’re conditioned to run away from negative emotions and to despise them. When, instead, you embrace them and flush them out of your system in their due course, you’ll eventually find the motivation to help you make better decisions for yourself.” And eventually, you’ll be ready for that first date with that person your friend keeps trying to hook you up with.
5. Indulge in long-lost hobbies
Relationships take up a lot of our time, and the first casualty of the process is usually that acoustic guitar that’s collecting dust in the corner of your closet or the brushes that are now eagerly waiting to be picked up again.
Direct your underrated feelings of compassion toward yourself and let your natural curiosity shine through, and pick up your old hobbies again. At the end of the day, the more you feel like yourself, the quicker you’ll begin to feel normal after a breakup.
Related Reading: The 7 Stages Of A Breakup That Everyone Goes Through
6. Consider therapy
If you think you need professional help to understand how to feel better after a breakup, it could be one of the best decisions you make for yourself. Speaking on the subject, Dr. Aman Bhonsle previously told Bonobology, “When people rely on friends instead of mental health professionals, it may end up making their pain worse.
“Bad token advice such as “this too shall pass”, “many fish in the sea”, and “you have to get under someone to get over someone” does more harm than good. It sounds poetic but has no practical value.
“Your family or friends may have an agenda and may tell you things you want to hear. A therapist has no mandate to impress you. Therapists will improve your mental health by helping you get rid of this psychological germ that has infected you by telling you what’s best for you and what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.”
Shazia says, “A therapist can help you cope; they can help you identify your problem areas and help direct you toward possible avenues for solutions. They can help you become aware of the patterns in your behavior and guide you toward making better decisions for yourself.”
If you think you’re in a slump after your breakup and are unable to find the answers you need yourself, Bonobology has a panel of experienced therapists who can help you manage your feelings better.
7. Exercise can help you start feeling better instantly
You may not want to get up from your “ice cream on your stomach on the sofa” pose, but countless studies have suggested that when exercise is adopted with therapy, it significantly helps manage signs and symptoms of depression.
So, whether you’re trying to figure out how to heal from a breakup when you still love them or just looking for things to do after a breakup, picking up a barbell can help. Harvard Health even goes as far as to claim that exercise alone can be as good as antidepressants in some cases.
Studies also suggest that there’s a correlation between physical activity and self-esteem, so there’s no reason why exercise shouldn’t be your answer to how to feel better after a breakup.
8. Never lose your sense of self-worth
“Self-worth is really important when you’re trying to heal from a breakup,” says Shazia. “If a person feels confident and values themselves, a failed relationship can never make that person feel undesirable.
“A relationship doesn’t work out for a multitude of reasons. You may have ended it on mutual terms, or it may have been ugly. But just because two people agreed to part ways, does not mean that one of them must blame themselves completely for it and devalue themselves.
“Don’t let this experience define what you think of yourself. Only when you’re compassionate toward yourself can you start to feel normal after a breakup. Or else, you may become susceptible to a toxic relationship in the future, assuming that that’s all you deserve,” she adds.
9. Catch up with people
You’d be lying if you said your relationship didn’t get in the way of you and some friends. Now that you’ve got more time on your hands, it’s time to let underrated feelings like platonic love toward your friends shine through.
When was the last time you had a girls’ night out or a boys’ night out? Catch up with all the people you lost touch with, go out, and have some fun.
Related Reading: 9 Expert Tips To Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself After Breakup
How Long Does It Take To Feel Better After A Breakup?
When you’re stuck in the rut of trying to heal from a breakup when you still love them, you might begin to think that this despair will never end. Alternatively, you may begin to compare your healing to the healing of others and begin to think negatively of yourself.
It is imperative to stay far away from both lines of thought. Shazia explains further, “To avoid letting your negative thoughts and emotions get the better of you, practice self-kindness. You must also understand that everyone handles such emotions differently, so never compare yourself to others.
“If someone you know bounced back from a breakup within a week, there’s no point in comparing your journey with theirs since their relationship, their life, their base emotional stability and every other imaginable factor in their lives are different from yours.”
There’s really no timeline for when your quest to understand how to feel better after a breakup will bear fruit. It may take anywhere from a few months to six months, a year, or maybe even more. As long as you’re kind to yourself and optimistic about the future, things will get better. “Healing” within a timeframe shouldn’t be the goal, the goal should be to do a bit better every day.
To help you heal from a breakup, Shazia leaves us with a few more practical tips. “Don’t go on a guilt trip. Don’t deem yourself unworthy of love just because one relationship did not work out. Understand that it’s not the end of the world and that you need to focus on yourself now.
“Before moving on and starting a new relationship, do a bit of introspection and ask yourself if you’re ready for this transition. Analyze whether you’re doing it for the right reasons, or just to run away from any negative emotions you might be distracting yourself from.
“Prioritize yourself. Take care of your emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Give yourself the confidence and love you need to make better decisions, and you’ll thrive in no time.”
- To heal from a breakup, be kind to yourself, don’t let your self-worth erode, talk to people who care about you, and cut off contact with your ex
- Do not avoid the grief you feel, rather, embrace it and let it naturally pass through
- Try not to let self-destructive behavior become commonplace
- Adopt healthy coping mechanisms like exercise, hobbies, socializing, and therapy
- Therapy can help you understand and cope with your emotions and guide you toward the best path to healing
Understanding how to feel better after a breakup isn’t necessarily a tough cookie to crack. After all, you already know what it is you have to do, but it’s the execution where most people fall short. When life feels grim and the ice cream marks on your chest define your weekend, consider the things to do after a breakup that we listed out for you above.