How to care for yourself after a… | Counseling | Therapy

How to care for yourself after a breakup

Alex Robboy , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director

How to care for yourself after a breakup image

How To Care For Yourself After A Break-Up All relationship break-ups are difficult; whether you are the one who initiated the ending or the one who was left behind. Relationships play such an important part of our lives. They teach us about ourselves in ways being alone can never. As relationships grow, we learn to let down our guard and allow the other to like and ultimately love us. We learn to trust the other with those parts of ourselves that we don’t even like or admire. We choose to let the other into our secret world. As they accept us and love us warts and all, so to speak, we begin to allow ourselves to dream, to dream about the possible future together. And it is for this very reason that breaking-up is heart-wrenching. We not only grieve for what was. We grieve for what could have been—those dreams we allowed ourselves to have. Now they have come to an end and we are forced to change our hopes, wishes and dreams in minutes, hours and in days.

In the days after a break-up, we usually find ourselves in an emotional world-wind. We are not only experiencing overwhelming emotions, but also having to re-organize our lives. In those early days one needs to go back to the basics. In order to handle the stress load of a break-up one needs to take care of themselves most of all.

Things to do in the early days of a break-up:

  • How to care for yourself after a break up 1. Get rest—this is something we never really think is important until we are dragging through our day, but sleep is a vital part to mental health. Studies have shown that people who do not get enough sleep nightly are more susceptible to depressive symptoms. Especially during an emotional time, we need the restorative sleep to regain all the strength that emotions and stress take out of us. So, aim for 7—8 hours a night.
  • How to care for yourself after a break up 2. Gather your supports—make sure you have good people around you who can be there for you during this crucial time. It is important to have people who can not only listen to your pain, but also remind you of who you are. During times of real distress we tend to forget times of strength and confidence and that’s why we need friends and family to remind us.
  • How to care for yourself after a break up 3. Eat healthy foods—this is a tough one; especially for those who emotionally eat and those who don’t eat at all during times of distress. However the principle is about being good and loving towards yourself during a time of great pain. Self-care goes a long way when we are making or forced to make huge changes in our lives.
  • How to care for yourself after a break up 4. Limit alcohol and drug use—although this might be a time when you are more tempted to self-medicate, work at limiting your intake. Alcohol/drugs are only temporary pseudo-solutions to dealing with emotional pain. The pain and loss will still be there after the last drink.
  • How to care for yourself after a break up 5. Maintain a routine—having a routine after an emotional shock will be the foundation for recovery. Sticking to your regular routine can provide some stability in a time of upheaval. Plus having a routine allows for some familiarity, which can be comforting when everything is changing around you. Maintaining a routine keeps you busy. Although many people may use keeping busy as a way to escape the emotional turmoil…doing so for awhile is not a bad idea. If done for a short time, can allow for the initial emotional on slot to pass, which later can bring clarity.

Things to do as time has gone on:

1. Take stock—review the good and the bad qualities of the relationship. A relationship that went awry is rarely caused by one person alone. Explore what went wrong, when did it go wrong and did you ignore the signs? The key here is to learn from this situation. Knowing what went wrong and your part in it will only help you to grow and not repeat it in future relationships. Also knowing what was good and healthy in the relationship can encourage you; more importantly, you can take along the good qualities/skills into future relationships.
2. Remember you—sometimes when we get involved with another person, we forget about ourselves. One might see this more in women than with men, but at times we all do so. The act of weaving one’s life with another, naturally, contributes to this “forgetting me” process. However as someone leaves our life, we may feel somewhat lost and thinking, ‘What did I use to do with my free time before I met __________?” Getting back to the activities you enjoyed and the relationships you may have allowed to go to the wayside will be vital now. Spend time remembering your interests and make every attempt to recapture you again.
3. Reconnect with your community—one thing that sometimes seems to stray as we engage our life with another is our connection with our community of family and friends. Even with the best intentions, we stop getting together with people who were once important to us. This is the time to rebuild and maintain healthy connections. Putting forth effort to do so will definitely be well worth the benefits.
4. Exercise—a dirty word for many of us, but regular exercise is nature’s anti-depressant. What a better time to use it. Exercise not only helps with depressive symptoms, it is also a tremendous aide for anxiety. Plus, one usually feels good about themselves after doing it. So don’t wait until you feel like going to the gym, because you’ll wait forever. Just go and your feelings will follow.
5. Don’t rush into another relationship—although this may initially take away the hurt feelings, it will not solve them. Replacing someone for another is not fair to anyone in the scenario. Take time to grieve, heal and develop hope. Time is good. Respect yourself by making healthy choices in your future relationships.
6. Set and keep boundaries—when some people break-up they never see one another again. However others continue to see one another for various reasons. If seeing the other is too painful, then set boundaries and keep them. In order to heal, one needs time away from the other. Having time with no contact, although difficult at times, will provide space for grieving and time for healing. It is a crucial part of the healing process.

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