We’ve all been there. Well, at least most of us. You’re blindsided by a breakup, feeling lost and helpless without the one person who means everything to you. It might sound dramatic, but the time during and after a rough breakup can literally feel like the end of the world, especially if you’ve been with that person for a long period of time. It’s hard to imagine your life without them, and it’s even harder to think about them moving on from you. But like anything else in life, nothing lasts forever–not even a crippling heartbreak. Although there isn’t much anyone else can say or do to get you out of a post-breakup slump, there are things you can do to make it slightly less painful and deter you from going into a serious downward spiral. After recently going through a breakup myself, I decided that for once I would take my own advice. At 22 years young, I’ve had my fair share of girl talks, helping friends cope with getting dumped by–for lack of a better word–total assholes. And to be fair, I’ve also helped my guy friends get through tumultuous splits with bitchy ex-girlfriends. When it was my turn to sulk after parting with my boyfriend of two years, I realized I had to listen to the advice I had been giving my friends–both guys and girls–for years. At the end of the day, it’s simply about making small changes in your daily life that can take the edge off a nasty breakup. And while it’s not a quick fix, it will ease the pain in the meantime.
1) Accept the grief
This is, in my opinion, the most crucial part of any breakup, and it needs to happen immediately. The longer you put off your real feelings, the longer the suffering will last. Don’t deny the overwhelming sadness or grief you’re feeling. You have every right to be upset, so allow yourself to work through that grief. Realize that you’re feelings are justified, but that they won’t last forever. If this means crying in the shower every day until you can’t cry anymore, then do it. This way, when you’re out in public, you can put on a smile–even if you don’t feel like it–and let the world know that you are OKAY.
2) Make a clean break
No texts. No calls. No emails. Nothing. It’s very difficult to not be in contact with someone if you’re used to talking to them all day every day, but trust me, holding on for dear life with obsessive phone calls and texts only makes things worse. Do whatever you have to do to make sure there is no temptation to reach out. Erase his or her number, even if you know it by heart, and put away (or burn) any pictures. The less things around that remind you of that person, the less you will think about them. You need to give yourself time to think and be apart from them in order for your mind to process the breakup. You may be ready to talk one day, but only when you’ve distanced yourself enough from the situation emotionally that you can speak to them in a rational, mature way. You might even get back together in the future; but right now, you broke up for a reason and there’s no point in dwelling on what could have been or what might be. Make a clean break and move on for good.
3) Get up and MOVE!
Every person deserves a day or two to sit in bed, live on slurpees and Doritos, and act like the world is really coming to an end. This is a part of the grieving process, but it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) last forever. After the initial shock wears off, you need to get out of bed and MOVE. Do something active to get your blood pumping. You might be upset, but you’re not dead. Exercising, even if it is just a brisk walk outside or a few jumping jacks, releases endorphins. The release of endorphins are scientifically proven to reduce stress and provide temporary positive mood boosts. It may only be temporary, but trust me, it’s better than being miserable 24/7. Maintaining a weekly fitness routine is even better for improving your overall mood and self-esteem. Remember, the best revenge is looking good.
4) Start fresh
One great part about ending a relationship is starting a new chapter in your life. It might seem silly to think life is starting over, but in many ways, it is. It’s the perfect time to get back in touch with yourself, while at the same time celebrating the “new” single you. Buy a flirty, fresh perfume you’ve never tried before. Make a playlist of songs that don’t remind you of that person. Treat yourself to some retail therapy and a crisp new style. Starting fresh with a clean slate will help you realize that life goes on after relationships end, no matter how painful it might be.
5) Pamper yourself
I will find any excuse to pamper myself, and a breakup is no exception. Breaking up can be a big hit to your ego, especially if the breakup isn’t exactly on your terms (a.k.a. you get dumped). Do things that allow you to relax and rejuvenate, while also making you feel good about yourself. There’s so many ways to pamper yourself in times of need, whether you go get a mani/pedi, buy a hot new outfit, or splurge on a massage. You’d be surprised what a blowout and DIY face mask can do for your self-esteem when you’re feeling down. The whole point of pampering is to remind yourself just how fabulous you really are, and what a huge mistake the other person is making.
6) Stay in the positive
It’s crucial that you surround yourself with positivity during this difficult time. Hang out with people who make you feel good about yourself and won’t harp on you with questions about your breakup. If you’re friends aren’t doing much to help (shame on them and find some new friends ASAP), think about reconnecting with a friend you might have lost touch with during your relationship. When you’re around supportive people that make you feel good, your mood and self-perception will naturally change. It’s also important that you think as positively as you can at all times. Remember, you’ve accepted the grief, and now it’s time to move into a more affirmative space. That doesn’t mean that you still won’t have moments of sadness, anger, or jealousy, but there’s no reason to focus only on the negative. Instead, keep telling yourself, “It’s their loss, not mine.” Sooner or later, you’ll actually start to believe it.
Photograph by Quavondo for Cliché Magazine Aug/Sept 2013