How to make a breakup feel less terrible

Break ups can really suck. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Even if you’re the person doing the breaking up, it’s still no fun. You can be plagued with self-doubt and genuinely miss the other person—even if you know in your heart it was the right decision. Really, the thing that will help heal your heart feelings is the thing that you can’t just order up a ton of: time. After a while, things will start to feel better, and you’ll get steadier on your feet. But in the immediate aftermath of a split, there are still a few simple things you can do that will help you start feeling like yourself again post- breakup. They might not seem too life-changing, but take it from someone who’s been there—they’ll make a real difference on your journey back to feeling good again.

Hide their feeds on all social media

If you aren’t the unfriending or detagging type, then be sure to hide their feeds on Facebook and other forms of social media. You may really not want to do this (there is a strange satisfaction in the post-breakup scroll through your ex’s feed), but nothing can take you back a few emotional steps than getting bombarded with their posts, pictures, and updates. Even if you split on good terms and hope to maintain a friendship, you need space and mental distance to process and to regain your footing on your own, so don’t make it harder on yourself. You can always unhide their posts when you feel ready.

Allow yourself to wallow (temporarily)

The first week or two of a breakup are usually the hardest. It’s the time when the reality of the new situation feels the most startling—you’ll fall asleep alone, you won’t have your usual daily texts and inside jokes, and a lot about your routine will likely be different day-to-day. So allow yourself to mourn those first few days. Listen to that sad music. Friends might try to cheer you up immediately, and that’s great, but the truth of the matter is sometimes you need a few days to just allow yourself to feel the emotions as they come. Tears are nature’s stress-relief method for our bodies, so never underestimate the power of a good cry! Feel your feelings, and you can work through them more effectively than stuffing it all down.

After your wallow, start getting busy

It can be easy to want to wallow for longer than a week or so, but getting out and reminding yourself that there’s life outside of your old relationship will help the healing process immensely. Go on a weekend trip with friends, go to the movies or a museum with family, go for drinks with coworkers even when you normally would have just opted to go home. You might be surprised how long you go without thinking of your ex when you keep yourself active and immersed in the world around you.

Allow yourself to notice other people

I don’t mean throw yourself into a new relationship before you’re actually ready (and I also know that meeting someone new is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re still hung up on someone else). I just mean that harmless, fun flirtation can be a great way to remind yourself that there are plenty of fish in the sea, even if you’re in no way ready to act on it. And knowing that you still “got it” can give your ego a much appreciated little boost when it may be feeling pretty down.

Try to remind yourself that things usually end for a reason

I can’t tell you how many times myself or a friend has initially been devastated by the end of a relationship, only to look back a year or so later and realize that there had been problems all along—and not only that, we had definitely not been our happiest selves. Maybe you actually fought kind of a lot. Or maybe you never really felt like you were able to be your truest self around the other person. It can be incredibly difficult to have this lens of perspective when a breakup is still fresh, but keeping in mind that we tend to romanticize something once we no longer have it can be a helpful thing to keep in the back of your mind.

Don’t worry about “saving face.” Do things at your own pace

This is another big one. Maybe you guys had tickets to a big concert coming up, and you decide it wouldn’t make sense not to go together. Or maybe one of your mutual friends has a birthday party coming up a week after the break up. If you don’t think you’re ready to see and socialize with your ex without leaving the situation feeling really down, don’t feel the need to put yourself through it. Call your friend with the birthday and tell them you can’t make it, but want to make it up to them by taking them out to a one-on-one lunch. Sell that ticket to a coworker who’s a super fan! Don’t let your pride get in the way of your actual emotional recovery.

Try something completely different

Okay, this might sound cliché, but it seriously helps. Sign up for painting, or maybe try that improv class you’ve always been curious about, or maybe you’ve always wanted to try trapeze. You’ll have more time on your hands now, and that can actually be incredibly liberating. You’ll have something new and interesting to focus on and think about, and the more time you spend thinking of something new, the less time you’ll be thinking about the breakup.

So there you have it— a few practical tips that might not seem like a lot, but that can be super helpful in those initial rough few months and weeks after a bad breakup. Hopefully some of these will help, and remember, almost all of us have been there and made it through.

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