Breakups are nasty, even when they’re not. It may feel as though things will never be normal again. If you’re struggling to cope following a breakup, don’t worry. If things are really bad, seeing a doctor or counsellor could be a real help – and we’d advise you to take that route if you’re seriously struggling with your mental health. If you’re not quite at doctor-seeking levels, but still pretty miserable, we’ve got some tips which might help.
Lean on your loved ones
Breakups can leave us feeling bereft, alone, and very unloved. But you can subdue that ache by surrounding yourself with people who love you and who value your company. If you’re a solitary soul who doesn’t feel the need for close friendships, that’s absolutely fine. However, if you do find yourself sinking into those ‘I’m unloveable’ feelings, it’s probably not a good idea to isolate yourself. Go out to the pub, join a club, take a class - do something to surround yourself with people who’ll help you to see your intrinsic worth.
Settling down for a good cry with a tub of ice cream and a bottle of wine is good for the soul. As is spending a whole day draped in your duvet. But you’ve got to consider that stuff as a kind of triage. The days of ice cream and tears in bed are when you stabilise the worst of your breakup symptoms and start to figure out what’s next. If you ‘triage’ yourself for too long you risk slumping into a depression or developing hard-to-break unhealthy habits. Eating healthily, sleeping well, establishing a healthy routine etc may feel like an uphill struggle, but it will help you to regulate your emotions and generally make you mentally healthier.
Be the better person
It’s tempting to rant on social media, have a vengeful rebound, destroy your ex’s things, badmouth them to all their friends, burn their stuff etc. However, unless they’ve been abusive (in which case it may be worth reporting them to the relevant authorities), this will only make you feel worse in the long run. Revenge will give you a temporary boost, but is it worth the self-recrimination you might feel when your emotions settle?
Go cold turkey
OK, this one is really tough. But it works. Love and addiction have pretty much the same mechanism in the brain. Trying to come off love is a lot like trying to come off any other addictive substance. You’ll crave ‘hits’ of your ex, and you’ll seek them out through texting, checking their profiles, asking after them etc. However, the more you do this, the harder it will be to get through your ‘withdrawal’. Taking conscious and deliberate steps to avoid and/or ignore them may sound extreme (and it will be very painful for the first few days), but it’s by far the quickest way to heal and move on.
Let yourself grieve
You can’t have a difficult breakup and snap back to normal straight away. If what you had meant something to you, it’s worth grieving for. A breakup represents a loss, and the loss of a relationship can be just as hard as a bereavement. While what you had may not be there any longer, it did once exist, so it is worth grieving for. Let yourself feel your emotions. Acknowledge your grief. Don’t stuff if down and pretend it’s not important.
Identity crisis is a common part of a breakup. Relationships become a part of your identity, even if you’re the most independent person in the world. What’s more, if a breakup comes out of the blue it may leaving you feeling as though you’re not the person you thought you were – or, at least, that you thought your partner thought you were. There’s no easy way through an identity crisis but taking some time to explore yourself can help. Meditate, take up a hobby, do some talking therapy, journal – all of these things may help you to achieve greater self-understanding.
And remember – we still love you!