Itâs never easy when a significant relationship ends. Whatever the reason for the splitâand whether you wanted it or notâthe breakup of a relationship can turn your whole world upside down and trigger all sorts of painful and unsettling feelings. But there are plenty of things you can do to get through this difficult time and move on. You can even learn from the experience and grow into a stronger, wiser person.
Coping with separation â¢Recognize that itâs OK to have different feelings. Itâs normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, and confusedâand these feelings can be intense. You also may feel anxious about the future. Accept that reactions like these will lessen over time. Even if the relationship was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown is frightening.
â¢Give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period of time. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way youâre accustomed to for a little while. No one is superman or superwoman; take time to heal, regroup, and re-energize.
â¢Donât go through this alone. Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. Consider joining a support group where you can talk to others in similar situations. Isolating yourself can raise your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and get in the way of your work, relationships, and overall health. Donât be afraid to get outside help if you need it.
Allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship
Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and the breakup of a love relationship involves multiple losses:
â¢Loss of companionship and shared experiences (which may or may not have been consistently pleasurable)
â¢Loss of support, be it financial, intellectual, social, or emotional
â¢Loss of hopes, plans, and dreams (can be even more painful than practical losses)
Allowing yourself to feel the pain of these losses may be scary. You may fear that your emotions will be too intense to bear, or that youâll be stuck in a dark place forever. Just remember that grieving is essential to the healing process. The pain of grief is precisely what helps you let go of the old relationship and move on. And no matter how strong your grief, it wonât last forever.
Tips for grieving after a breakup :
â¢Donât fight your feelings â Itâs normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. Itâs important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the grieving process.
â¢Talk about how youâre feeling â Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Journaling can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.
â¢Remember that moving on is the end goal â Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyze the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger, and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing and moving forward.
â¢Remind yourself that you still have a future â When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. Itâs hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.
â¢Know the difference between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression â Grief can be paralyzing after a breakup, but after a while, the sadness begins to lift. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving on. However, if you donât feel any forward momentum, you may be suffering from depression.
Reach out to others for support through the grieving process
Reach out to trusted friends and family members. People who have been through painful breakups or divorces can be especially helpful. They know what it is like and they can assure you that there is hope for healing and new relationships.
â¢Spend time with people who support, value, and energize you. As you consider who to reach out to, choose wisely. Surround yourself with people who are positive and who truly listen to you. Itâs important that you feel free to be honest about what youâre going through, without worrying about being judged, criticized, or told what to do.
â¢Get outside help if you need it. If reaching out to others doesnât come naturally, consider seeing a counselor or joining a support group. The most important thing is that you have at least one place where you feel comfortable opening up. â¢Cultivate new friendships. If you feel like you have lost your social network along with the divorce or breakup, make an effort to meet new people. Join a networking group or special interest club, take a class, get involved in community activities, or volunteer at a school, place of worship, or other community organization.
â¢Make time each day to nurture yourself. Help yourself heal by scheduling daily time for activities you find calming and soothing. Go for a walk in nature, listen to music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, read a favorite book, take a yoga class, or savor a warm cup of tea.
â¢Pay attention to what you need in any given moment and speak up to express your needs. Honor what you believe to be right and best for you even though it may be different from what your ex or others want. Say "no" without guilt or angst as a way of honoring what is right for you.
â¢Stick to a routine. A divorce or relationship breakup can disrupt almost every area of your life, amplifying feelings of stress, uncertainty, and chaos. Getting back to a regular routine can provide a comforting sense of structure and normalcy. â¢Take a time out. Try not to make any major decisions in the first few months after a separation or divorce, like starting a new job or moving to a new city. If you can, wait until youâre feeling less emotional so that you can make better decisions.
â¢Avoid using alcohol, drugs, or food to cope. When youâre in the middle of a breakup, you may be tempted to do anything to relieve your feelings of pain and loneliness. But using alcohol, drugs, or food as an escape is unhealthy and destructive in the long run. Itâs essential to find healthier ways of coping with painful feelings.
â¢Explore new interests. A divorce or breakup is a beginning as well as an end. Take the opportunity to explore new interests and activities. Pursuing fun, new activities gives you a chance to enjoy life in the here-and-now, rather than dwelling on the past.
Making healthy choices: Eat well, sleep well, and exercise
When youâre going through the stress of a divorce or breakup, healthy habits easily fall by the wayside. You might find yourself not eating at all or overeating your favorite junk foods. Exercise might be harder to fit in because of the added pressures at home and sleep might be elusive. But all of the work you are doing to move forward in a positive way will be pointless if you donât make long-term healthy lifestyle choices.
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