You just broke up with your partner and you feel like a hot mess that got crossed with a wet blanket. You’re not just imagining it—break ups can cause a stress reaction in our bodies that send our hormones haywire, compromise our immune system, dull our appetite, and dampen our energy. But that doesn’t mean that a break up means a prolonged stay on the dark side. You can mitigate the internal havoc by proactively taking measures to stay sane and grounded. Here’s how.
1. Avoid blame
Rather than blaming everything on your partner, it’s far more important to understand why you broke up and what patterns of your own contributed to the relationship’s demise. The blame game will only enable you to keep perpetuating the same patterns instead of making the necessary corrections in yourself.
2. Feel your feelings
After a break up, the typical move is to numb out. But if you try to push away the sadness or anger you are probably experiencing, it will only resurface in less than appropriate ways. The months following a break up are deeply vulnerable. It makes sense to work with a therapist or a counselor to help you put the churn and burn in perspective.
3. Dive into friendships
Being around your closest friends can boost your feelings of self-worth and lower your stress levels, according a recent study published in Developmental Psychology.
4. Eat healthy
Weight loss is a common side effect of breaking up—it’s often called the divorce diet. But even if you have a diminished appetite, it’s important to still eat healthy, especially healthy fats, which can boost your mood and help ward off feelings of depression.
5. Remind yourself not be defined by breakup
Just because you broke up is no reason to judge yourself as a failure. Your relationship does not define you—but your relationship to yourself does.
6. Try new things to rebuild confidence
Break ups make us question many of our long held assumptions we hold about ourselves. Make use of the blank slate to explore adventures or hobbies that attracted you but for a variety of reasons you never tried. Explore, dabble and double dare yourself. Accomplishing something you were once afraid of does wonders for morale.
Exercise is one of the best natural anti-depressants. It reduces stress and pumps you full of feel- good endorphins. If you are low, a brisk walk, a vigorous yoga class, or a meditative swim can mix things up in all the right ways.
8. Cut off contact/quit cold turkey
For some couples, a clean break after parting ways serves them the best. It’s a difficult decision but observing a no contact ban for 30-90 days can make reclaiming your own identity much easier.
9. Opt for IRL over virtual
Prioritize meeting people in real life instead of virtually. Too much time on Facebook, checking out the edited versions of other’s people best face forward, can make you feel more depressed.
10. Limit the venting
You become what you put your attention on. If you focus on the bitter, it will poison you. Nip the complaining in the bud and try to find a positive or kind word for one another, such as “I know you’ll be OK” or “We’ll always care about each other.”
11. Let time do its healing work
Don’t rush getting back on your feet and “moving on.” You need time to transition into this new phase and let your future unfold.
12. Vision board your new life
It’s the perfect time to call the future in and find images that represent the shift you are making. Cull through magazines to find pictures that evoke the new you. Paste them on a board and make sure you look at it often.
13. Give back
A back-door way into happiness is to make other people happy. Giving back your time to causes you care about can reduce stress and make you feel better about yourself.
14. Find support
Don’t try to go it alone—a major life shift often requires a solid sense of community. Call on friends and family to help you through the overwhelm and keep you feeling connected to your tribe.
15. Don’t make rash decisions
Although you may think a breakup is also a perfect time for a career change or a move, try to titrate big changes. Get used to one major upheaval at a time rather than invite them en masse.
16. Seek out spiritual solace
Go deep into your core for what ignites you soul and makes you feel alive. Poetry, meditation, spiritual guidance are all nourishing antidotes to despair.
17. Practice forgiveness
Holding a grudge turns you into a victim, whereas forgiveness empowers you. It’s a way to take responsibility for your own wellbeing by letting go of the negativity you hold regarding your partner.
18. Get your groove back
Seek out those activities that put you in a deep state of flow or absorption. These creative experiences of losing oneself into something much bigger are vital for one’s sense of purpose.
When all else fails, redecorate. Make your space feel new to signal your new life. Moving furniture and decluttering not only refreshes the space, it will refresh your mind too.
20. Write a wishlist
What have you learned from this breakup? What qualities are you looking for in a significant other? Rather than outline the dealbreakers, focus on the positive qualities you would like to find in a mate. Notice how what the attributes you find important have changed and acknowledge what the struggles of this last relationship have made clear.