Breakup Survival Tips
British musician Sam Palladio once said, “If you break up with a [partner], you’re in this vulnerable state where you’re still kind of half in the relationship with them, but you’re single, and it takes a while to feel solid in yourself again."
People choose to end relationships for a multitude of reasons. Regardless of the rationale, there is pain. You’ve experienced a loss, and you have to re-create your place in a world that puts a great deal of emphasis on relationships. It doesn’t matter if you were the initiator, the receiver, or the decision was mutual--it’s difficult. Here are my top tips for surviving a breakup. Grab your favorite indulgent snack and get comfortable.
Allow yourself to grieve: Dr. Emily Nagoski, a sex educator and author, explains why breakups hurt so much from a science perspective. “Grief is proof that we love, and love is both the most abundant and the rarest of elements in the universe. Grief is the effect of broken attachment. And attachment is the biological foundation of love and thus, as literally as can be, the blood and guts of human relationships. So if it feels like you’re bleeding...that’s why.” Acknowledge your grief, allow yourself to feel it fully, and honor it. Dismissing your emotions, pushing through your feelings, or denying them entirely only serves to delay the pain. It cannot prevent it. Sometimes you need to wallow, and that’s okay. Don’t listen to people who tell you to “get over it.” We all know it’s not that easy.
Reach out for support: Talk to someone. It could be one close friend or relative, members of your community, or a mental health professional. Processing difficult emotions helps us integrate them into our narrative. At the same time, be aware of over processing to the point where all you talk about is your breakup, which can lead to feeling “stuck” in your emotions. It’s a balancing act.
Detox from social media: In the age of Facebook and Twitter, reminders of your ex can litter the ground like cigarette butts on the sidewalk. At the end of 2015, Facebook announced that they were rolling out breakup friendly tools: “When people change their relationship status to indicate they are no longer in a relationship, they will be prompted to try these tools.” Some options include seeing less of a partner’s name or image on your newsfeed without having to unfriend or block them, as well as removing your tags from any posts or photos that you and your ex are tagged in together.
Get your body involved. Go outside in the sunshine and feel the rays warming your skin. Hang out in a place where there are trees and flowers. Go to a body of water. Dance it out. Sing loudly to your favorite songs. Take a virtual yoga class. Do something to embody the emotions you’re feeling, and express them. Paint a picture, create a sculpture, build a model airplane.
Rest and hydrate: Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water. Stress is incredibly hard on the body, and prolonged stress can have all sorts of physical side effects. Gastrointestinal distress, headaches, fatigue, and anxiety are only a few. You can find more information about the way stress impacts the body on the American Psychological Association’s website. Your job is to take care of yourself. People will understand.
Hire a coach. Conscious uncoupling came into vogue in the past few years and it can be a useful practice for those who are in the process of transitioning their relationship, as well as a soothing balm for individuals as they navigate their newly solo status. Contact me if you're interested in this work.
What are your best practices for surviving a breakup?