Just about everyone knows how hard a relationship break-up can be. Whether a break-up is amicable or contentious, it takes an emotional toll and the feelings of grief and loss are inevitable. Here are 5 recommended strategies that can be helpful for processing the pain and moving forward:
- Reach out to friends and family: Losing a romantic partner can leave you feeling lonely. Some people describe feeling a “void” where their companion used to be. This is a great time to reach out to close friends and family members who help you feel connected and cared for. It is good to spend time with people you can process your feelings of loss with, but it is also good to see and spend time with people who will help take your mind off the loss. Right now with social distancing, you may need to find creative ways to do this but try a virtual hang out or maybe something outdoors where you can safely social distance. Distraction can be a helpful tool in moving forward past your loss.
- Re-invent your space: If your home was shared with your former partner, you might feel burdened by the constant reminders of their presence in your life. Removing photographs or personal items may help free you from these reminders. You can also re-invent your space by adding personal items that help make it feel like your own. Even re-arranging furniture can help make the space feel fresh and new.
- Engage in activities that are personally meaningful: After a break-up, part of what we mourn is the loss of our activity buddy. It is hard to lose the person we ate out with, watched movies with, and talked to every day. It is normal to feel sad about not having this person to keep you company. However, you can also take this opportunity to spend time doing things you love, especially things that you may not have done in the relationship. If you’ve always been passionate about hiking but your partner was “indoorsy,” go on a solo hike or invite a friend to join you. Take a class, try a new restaurant, spend time with old hobbies you’ve deserted – this is your chance to re-claim your time and fill it with activities that bring you joy.
- Journal: As a therapist, I often recommend that my clients journal about their feelings, particularly after a loss. Journaling helps organize your thoughts and gives you a space to process whatever feelings are arising. The mind can feel very chaotic and overwhelmed after a break-up and journaling offers a safe and judgment-free space to document whatever is coming up.
- Take care of your body: Although it may be tempting to binge on junk food and/or drink to excess to numb your feelings, this will likely lead you to feel worse. Exercise and healthy eating (and treating yourself to a drink or dessert in moderation) will lead to a quicker emotional recovery.