Breakups can be overwhelming. You tend to get angry at yourself or your ex, have negative thoughts, feel lonely, and might resort to things that give you instant gratification. You also feel as though the whole world is against you and begin to distrust relationships in general. And if you are the one who got dumped, you might enter a cycle of self-pity and self-blame.
Getting over a breakup can take weeks or months, depending on how long you were in the relationship or how attached you were to the other person. The pain that follows a breakup can drain you emotionally and physically, dent your confidence, and even make you question your worth.
The good news is that a breakup is not a failure and not the end of the world, but can provide an opportunity to reevaluate your life and make a fresh start. Read on for a few strategies for getting over a breakup.
What Happens When We Go Through A Breakup?
A study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology states that the area in the brain that is activated after a breakup is the same part that is associated with cocaine craving (1). Another study conducted by Kross Ethan, et al. has shown that social rejection (including breakups) and physical pain affect common areas of the brain. In short, a breakup not only hurts emotionally, but can also lead to various ‘physical pain disorders (2).
These studies demonstrate that a breakup is not only tough to logistically navigate, but can wreak havoc on both your mental and physical health. Therefore, you should make a conscious effort to utilize every possible coping mechanism to accelerate the healing process.
30 Ways To Get Over A Breakup
1. Accept your feelings.
The worst thing you can do after a breakup is to suppress your feelings. Remember that it is normal for you to experience rejection, anger, sadness, regret, fear, frustration, or shame after a breakup. Process your feelings and give them free rein. In other words, cry your heart out, wallow in self-pity, or yell at the wall.
2. Cut off all ties with your ex.
This is one of the first steps to healing after a breakup. No matter how strong the temptation, distance yourself completely from your ex, both physically and digitally. You could start by unfollowing them on social media, deleting their number on your phone, and avoiding places that they frequent.
3. Take it slow.
Healing takes time and patience, and there is no set time frame for how long it will take you to get over a breakup. Different people process feelings differently and at their own pace. Do not put pressure on yourself to heal faster. Instead, give yourself a break and let things take their own course. Remind yourself that no matter how awful you feel now, you will enjoy your life again.
4. Revamp your space.
Spend a day or two tidying up your room. You could rearrange furniture, bring in some fresh plants or flowers, or paint your room in a different color.. And most important, declutter your ex’s stuff, such as clothes and toothbrushes, anything that is likely to remind you of them.
5. Talk to a friend.
Talk to a friend who has gone through a similar experience. Listening to their story might help shift your perspective and give you hope about the path ahead. Also, pouring your heart out to a supportive friend can be therapeutic.
6. Dial your grandma or favorite aunt.
Call your grandma or aunt. They can give you the most sensible advice on how to get over your breakup. After all, they have been there and gone through it all when it comes to relationships and breakups. Better still, go and spend your weekends at their place and enjoy being pampered.
7. Write down your thoughts.
Make a list of the things the relationship has taught you, the compromises you had to make, and the things that didn’t work for you. Spend time in self-reflection and be honest while writing down your feelings. You mighy also write an honest letter to your ex to assist you in better understanding and processing your feelings — do not post it, though.
8. Listen to sad songs.
This may sound absurd, but a study conducted on 772 participants states that “listening to sad music can lead to beneficial emotional effects such as regulation of negative emotion and mood as well as a consolation (3).” So, go ahead and create your breakup playlist.
9. Stay off social media.
Stay off social media for a while after a breakup. This just might save you from venting your grievances on public platforms, which can be embarrassing in the long run. And more important, seeing your ex’s post or pictures of happy couples will only aggravate your pain.
10. Keep yourself busy at home.
Spend some alone time doing things you love. Grab that book you’ve always wanted to read, try a new recipe, meditate, get a pet, or plant some vegetables in your backyard. Do things you find self-soothing and nurturing, that you couldn’t find the time for when you were with your ex.
11. Socialize with like-minded people.
The “me time” in the initial days after a breakup can do wonders for you. However, excessive amounts of alone time can make you feel lonely and sad. Make dinner plans, go shopping, or attend a stand-up comedy show with friends. And, yes, remember to stick to friends who don’t judge you and who you are comfortable with.
12. Find a new hobby.
Redirect your focus and negative energy into a new hobby. Try out something exciting, such as learning a new language, joining a yoga or Zumba class, or learning to play a musical instrument. Consider taking up physical activities, such as jogging/running and boxing, to give yourself an endorphin boost for crushing negative emotions.
13. Maintain a routine.
Follow a new routine and organize your day focusing on self-care. Also, try to establish a routine that doesn’t remind you of your ex. For instance, you could start waking up early if you were used to waking up late when you were together. Small adjustments like this can go a long way in giving you a sense of a new life.
14. Spend time outdoors.
Spend a couple of hours outdoors every day. Besides the several health benefits that it offers, it could also improve your mood (4) and help reduce stress. Go for a walk, go cycling, or just grab your camera and capture the world around you.
15. Engage in community service.
Get involved in volunteering and channel your time and energy into helping others. You could volunteer at a nursing home, an animal shelter, a school, a library, or playschool. This will help you overcome your feelings of loneliness, stress, anger, and depression, and will make you feel more socially connected. It will also help you to shift your inward focus toward meaningful, outward activities.
16. Do not start dating again just yet.
You might be tempted to fill that void left by your ex. But, before you start dating again, make sure that you are not doing it simply to cover up unwanted emotions or to fill the vacancy. Start meeting new people after you know you have gotten over your ex and are emotionally ready. Give it at least a couple of months, especially if you are the one who was dumped.
17. Revenge is not the answer.
After a breakup, the tendency to seek revenge is strong. Naturally, you want to prove a point to soothe your bruised ego. But don’t do it. Seeking revenge will only make you feel more bitter and slow your healing process. The best revenge is becoming a happier person and a better version of yourself.
18. Do not bad-mouth your ex.
Do not speak ill of your ex after a breakup. It could reflect poorly upon you and not them, and make it evident you haven’t yet let go. It could even push your friends away from you because no one likes being around a negative person. But if you can’t resist the urge, record your criticisms in your diary.
19. Do not give in to addictive substances.
Avoid using alcohol and other addictive substances as a coping mechanism after a breakup. These only help alleviate pain momentarily, but ultimately compound negative feelings, interfere with your ability to make sensible decisions, and affect your sleep.
20. Be kind to yourself.
Do not be too hard on yourself after a breakup. Stop blaming yourself for what could have been because it only aggravates negative feelings. Furthermore, such thoughts are rooted in fantasy, most likely would not have changed the relationship outcome, and offer no real solution. Be kind to yourself and try talking to yourself as you would a friend going through a similar situation.
21. Practice meditation and yoga.
Meditation and yoga offer a plethora of benefits. But, most important, they help you reduce stress and develop self-awareness, which are the cornerstones of healing after a breakup. You could consider joining some classes or just download an app.
22. Give yourself a makeover.
Once you are done with the wallowing, go out and get a bold look. You might get a new haircut, dye your hair, stock up on clothes and accessories, get a piercing—the options are endless. However, just keep that getting-a-tattoo idea for later, that is, until you are completely healed.
23. Explore the city or countryside.
Visit a new museum, library, or park every day. You could also explore the street food in your city, review the coolest cafes and restaurants, or book yourself a deluxe hotel room for the weekend. And if the busy city life doesn’t appeal to you, take a car ride to the countryside with a couple of friends.
24. Get enough sleep.
Breakups are stressful, and stress can lead to sleep disorders. Ensure you get your regular hours of sleep every night. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and cut down on alcohol, caffeine, and screen time. You could also try meditation before going to sleep.
25. Eat healthy.
The stress after a breakup is known to decrease your appetite in the short term, increase your appetite in the long term, and affect your food choices, leading you to take foods high in sugar and fat (5). Try to maintain a regular eating schedule and include a lot of heart-healthy foods in your diet.
26. Get a pet
Pets make loyal, comforting companions. They can help you cope with stress and anxiety and make you feel less lonely. Owning a pet is also known to decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and feelings of loneliness and increase opportunities for outdoor activities and socialization (6).
“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.” —Charlie Chaplin
Laughter can be one of the best antidotes to a broken heart. Studies have proven that laughter can decrease anxiety and reduce stress levels (7) (8). Watch some comedy movies, join a comedy club in your city, or spend time with friends who make you laugh.
28. Focus on your career.
After you have passed that phase of anger, guilt, stress, sadness, etc., try to channel all your energy into a new project, or learn a new skill at work. Besides distracting you from the breakup, this could also improve your self-esteem and make you believe in your worth.
29. Try therapy.
If, despite all your efforts, you still feel miserable, you could consider seeking therapy. A therapist or counselor could provide you a safe space to process your thoughts and feelings, and suggest some useful coping techniques. They could also give you a perspective different from those offered by your friends and loved ones.
Practice forgiveness. Forgive the other person, and, more important, yourself. It doesn’t mean you need to reconcile with your ex. Just let go of your anger and negative feelings, accept that everything happens for a good cause, learn from the experience, and look forward to a new beginning.
Getting over a breakup takes time, and the time it takes to heal depends on the type of the relationship, the reason for the breakup, and your coping strategies. We hope these practical tips help you heal faster and find true love.
2. Ethan Kross, et al.; Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain; National Academy of Sciences (2010).
3. Liila Taruffi and Stefan Koelsch; The Paradox of Music-Evoked Sadness: An Online Survey; PLOS ONE (2014).
4. A prescription for better health: go alfresco; Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School
5. Why stress causes people to overeat; Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School
6. About Pets & People – Healthy Pets, Healthy People; CDC
7. Melike Demir Doğan; The Effect of Laughter Therapy on Anxiety: A Meta-analysis; Holistic Nursing Practice (2016).
8. JongEun Yim; Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review; The Tohoku journal of experimental medicine (2016).