Brianna is a writer, editor, and photographer. Her creative work is grounded in healing and self-compassion.
1. Let Yourself Grieve
Be honest with yourself: what you're going through sucks, and that's the best case scenario. Breakups can be life-altering, devastating, and even severely traumatic. While it may be true that others have it worse and it's certainly not the end of the world, give yourself the right to grieve your loss and the hardship of getting past it.
Don't shame yourself for being over-dramatic. Your pain indicates something that mattered to you, something that is scary, and something that is totally worth crying over. You needn't feel embarrassed about taking a breakup harshly, but remember that you don't need to explain or specify your hurt to anyone either.
Give yourself the compassion you deserve after all the pressure you endured throughout the relationship and allow time to mourn both positive and negative memories.
If you still feel uncomfortable facing your emotions and are trying to "think rationally," remember that it is logical to feel distressed. This event has disrupted your daily life and your brain needs time to process it.
However you're feeling about what happened, it makes sense to feel that way.
2. Send an SOS to Your Support Group
You don't have to announce your breakup to anyone, but let your close circle know that you've been dealt a tough card. Even if you feel fine in the moment, let them know in advance so they're alert and ready to be at your side when the bad days hit.
If you're not ready to talk about it, you can just send them a simple text.
You: "Hey y'all, I just wanted to let you know that I might be having a hard time the next few days. I don't want to go into detail right now, but I'll let you know if I need some company."
Your radically supportive group chat:
"Say no more, fam. We're ready when you are."
"So sorry to hear that. No pressure to come out this weekend either, but know we're always here for you!"
"Hang in there, baby! (insert motivational GIF)"
3. Stay Hydrated
You already knew this one. Your parents tell you all the time. I'm telling you again. Drink 64oz of water a day or more if you can. Crying yourself to sleep for days on end without sufficient fluid intake will leave your body with the feeling of a bad hangover.
4. Make Dinner Plans
If comfort food helps you, eat your heart out and don't feel guilty about it. But if you're the type of person who often forgets to eat, loses your appetite when you're stressed, or if you have any history of an eating disorder or a negative relationship with food, make plans for dinner. You can invite a friend to help you cook, set alarms on your phone to remind yourself to eat throughout the day, or schedule a delivery from a nearby restaurant. It's easy to skip meals when you're grieving, but your body needs nourishment every day. Of course, it's hard to prioritize physical health when your emotional needs seem to be taking up your whole life, but remember that recovery will seem that much harder if you literally don't have the energy to get out of bed.
If you don't feel able to eat a whole meal, know that anything and everything helps. Smoothies, crackers, even just a few pieces of candy will give you a necessary boost of sugar and calories. Eat slowly, but as often as you can.
5. Talk to Someone Who Got Through a Similar Situation
Even if the breakup was your decision or if the relationship was toxic, moving forward can feel like trying to navigate uncharted territory. Reach out to someone who's been in your shoes that may be willing to talk to you about it, especially if your breakups shared similar factors like a long-term relationship, having to move out of a shared apartment, or instances of abuse.
You: "Hey, I know this might be too personal or a hard subject to talk about, but I wanted to reach out to you because I'm going through something similar. I'm having a hard time figuring out the next steps of my breakup and some days, it feels really hard to look forward to the unknown. I'm really inspired by how you've seemed to carry on, and was hoping you could give me some advice."
Wise Breakup Veteran: "Oh yeah, that was rough! I'm really sorry you're going through that because I definitely know how hard it is. Let me tell you about what helped me..."
6. Write a Love Letter to Yourself
If your breakup ended in anger, you partner might have left you with a list of things you did wrong or reasons to feel insecure. But regardless of your flaws and mistakes, there are still so many things about you that are spectacular and lovable.
Write yourself a love letter, a list of your best traits, or a recap of all the times you were an amazing partner. Don't forget the little things either! Did you stay up all night watching your partner's favorite shows with them? Did you listen to their childhood stories? Did you remember their go-to fast food order by heart? Rack up your well earned brownie points and realize that no matter what went wrong, it doesn't change the things you do right.
7. Try This Before You Text Your Ex!
One of the hardest things about experiencing a breakup is the silence and absence of communication from your ex-partner, whether it's for better or worse.
It's extremely tempting to leave them texts and voicemails expressing your anger, hurt, love, and/or desperation, but their reply or lack thereof may only make you feel worse in the end.
However, you don't need to bite your tongue. There are plenty of cathartic alternatives to expel your choice words.
- Set up a group chat specifically for venting. You could name it "Screaming Into The Void" and invite your closest friends to join in on releasing the things you wish you could say to people who hurt you. Complain about your ex, that rude customer at work, or whoever else you had to refrain from telling off in real life.
- If you're afraid of accidentally texting the wrong person or just need more privacy, you could also start a word document, journal, or handwritten letters to shred or burn.
- If you and your ex are on good enough terms, you can agree on how to respond when the other person sends an emotional text out of the blue. For instance, the recipient could reply with a simple heart emoji as a gesture that symbolizes saying "I hear you and I care about your feelings, but I think it's best not to engage in conversation right now."
- If you feel like quitting cold turkey is the only way to break your habit of talking to your ex, do what you need to do. Delete their number and block them on social media.
Hopefully one or more of these ideas will help you find ways to curb your cravings for your ex's attention, but just remember you probably will slip up and that's okay.
Going from talking to someone every day to never seeing them at all is a drastic change that can be gut-wrenching, anxiety-inducing, and seemingly impossible to adjust to.
Don't be hard on yourself about it. Even if you ended up saying something angry and awful, have some compassion for yourself. Your reaction to a painful stimulus was logical. While drunk calling them was probably a bad idea, your regret the next morning doesn't do you any good either. Forgive yourself for being a human that feels emotions and makes mistakes, and try to move past it.
8. Start a Passion Project
Ending a relationship means a huge expenditure of your time and energy is suddenly vacant, and that can be both a blessing and a curse. To avoid feeling empty-nested, pour yourself into a constructive project that will not only help you keep your mind off things, but allow you to grow in the ways you've been wanting to but never had the time for.
You can start sketching once a day, get back into your favorite sport, start a side hustle, commit to cooking daily dinners from scratch, plan to hike every trail in your county, or any other hobby that calls to you.
If you devote your time to something you love, you'll be amazed by what you've accomplished by the time your heart is healed.
9. Provide a Healthy Dose of Adrenaline and Endorphins
Relieve your stress and restless energy by giving your body a chance to physically release the tension. Turn your morning jog into a full-on sprint for a day, try a new skateboarding trick, perform in front of strangers at an open mic night, cross something huge off your bucket list, go skydiving if you can afford it, anything that gets your blood pumping with the rush of being alive.
10. Find Your Peace
If you're spiritual, prayer may bring tremendous solace, particularly if you subscribe to the philosophy of surrendering your worries and life outcomes to a higher power. Even if you don't associate with a system of a faith, quiet activities like meditation or walking through nature might help you reach a point of mindfulness where you can begin to relieve your conscious of high-emotions. The effort of releasing thought and worry may help you achieve additional points of clarity, where you can start to understand your life from outside the urgent tunnel-vision of your breakup.
11. Make an Effort to Make New Connections
There's no rush to seek out new romantic partners, but new friends and casual acquaintances can offer developing connections to look forward to. It's also a warm reminder that you are a pleasant person to be around and are completely capable of positive relationships.
Like any of these tips, you can make it as simple and least intimidating as you're ready for. You can reach out to a person you know but have never hung out one-on-one with and invite them to lunch. You can visit an elderly or distant relative you wish you knew better. If social anxiety is kicking in and you're not even ready to initiate any kind of contact, you can always just put yourself in a room of new people without feeling pressured to talk to them. Join a yoga class, for example. No one's going to mind if you just keep to your own mat, but 3 weeks into the class, your instructor might remember your name and make just enough small talk to brighten your day.
12. Go Somewhere New
Going out of town for a weekend retreat would be ideal, but if you can't afford a vacation, there are still ways of exploring beyond the places that are saturated with memories of your partner. It can be as simple as taking the long way home from work or going to a grocery store in the next town over instead of the one you always shop at. By putting yourself in new places, even just baby steps at a time, will help you process the fact that your daily life is different now. When you're feeling brave, you can start shaking up your routine in fun and creative ways that could make you feel like you have agency in these new changes, which you totally do.
13. Borrow Strength by Helping Others
You're totally entitled to a self-pity party, but staying in that zone for too long can weaken your self-esteem. When your heart is freshly broken, you may not feel like you have enough energy to offer anyone, but acts of generosity can often reflect your own kindness back to you.
You can volunteer at an animal shelter, call a friend and listen to them vent about their own struggles, or any gesture that feels meaningful to you.
14. Love Yourself Anyway
The most powerful thing you can do to mend your heart is to practice radical self-compassion. Have patience in your healing, take pride in how far you've come, and love yourself in all directions of time. Your past, present, and future self are all worth your deepest respect.
Roness on July 02, 2020:
it hurt so much, when someone you love break up with you. you cant explain the pain. you cant move or do anything. .thanks fpr this article , i think i have to move on and let him go
Lisa on June 05, 2020:
This was incredibly healing for my broken heart.I am resolved to treat myself better,and find strength in myself.No one is garbage,not me,not him,and i learned a hell of alot.This time,i will forgive myself,(and him,)and grow.Thank u for an inspiring article
Amanda P. on April 25, 2019:
I can’t cope with the pain of my break up. Can’t eat or sleep, I feel depressed. Can’t sleep without sleeping pills or wine. And to make things worse I think I’m getting addicted to them. How can I make myself feel better and sleep better?
Brianna Olsen (author) from San Diego on February 12, 2018:
Thank you! :)
Haley Davis from California on February 12, 2018:
I love this ^_^ Thanks for the wise tips!