Sonya Thomas lcsw

Getting Over a Broken Heart

Most everyone of will go through a gut wrenching break up at some point in life.  It may be after a short but passionate love affair, or a more long term commitment in which ones’ lives are intricately entertwined.  No doubt, moving past a break up can be a tough road.  Feelings can oscillate between anger (screw them!), self-pity (why was I not good enough?), sorry (I will never love again),  depression (I don’t even feel like getting out of bed) jealousy (how dare they move on so quickly), etc.  Eventually, however, we have to pull ourselves out of the muck and move on.  Here are some tips in doing so:

1) Say yes to every social invitation

Following a breakup, vow to accept as many social invitation that you can.  You may even try reveling and rebelling a bit.  Do things you would not normally do (hint:  clubbing at gay bars can be a lot of fun), sing karaoke or go to trivia night, take long hikes, learn to stand up paddle board.  The point is to reclaim parts of yourself that may have gone dormant.  Even if engaging in social events feels non-genuine, do it anyway.

2) Nourish your body with healthy food and exercise

Here is your opportunity to follow through with a commitment to treat your body well and show it some nurturing love.  Make a weekly trip to the farmers market part of your routine.  Try out new, healthy recipes.  Sign up for Blue Apron and actually cook nourishing meals for yourself.  Meal planning is a great way to spend time in what might otherwise be a lonely Sunday afternoon.  Don’t stop at there.  Now is a great time to buy a yoga package or re-committ to that spin class you used to love so much.  Or maybe buddy up with a friend who also needs some external accountability to go on that walk after work.  The endorphins that are released during physical activity are mood altering in a positive way, and research has shown that engaging in exercise is as effective as taking anti-anxiety medication.

3) Reconnect with friends

Let’s be honest, being romantically involved, for many of us, impinges on our friendships.  Where we once used to spend hours chatting and hanging with our besties, when in love, much of that time and energy goes towards our partner.  Now is your opportunity to try to re-connect.  Go on weekend trips to visit out of town friends you have not seen in awhile.  Hook up with that friend who also loves to binge watch Netflix while eating take out.  Try to slide back in to those Sunday morning brunches that your pals are still doing.  Our friends can help to remind us that there is life beyond our ex, and that we are still lovable, despite the messages we may be telling ourselves.  An important note here; our friends also have busy, demanding lives, so we need to be aware of this and do our best to not personalize it if they are not available in the way we wish they would be.  If you are reaching out to someone who can’t be there for you in a specific moment, engage in one of the other suggestions in this list.

4) Cut off your hair

Perhaps do not take this suggestion literally, though you could if you desire.  The point is to try something new with your physical appearance.  This can help boost your confidence as well as provide an external manifestation of the internal changes that are taking place.  Maybe you want to try out Adele’s stiletto nails.  Or become a temporary red head.  Or heck, maybe you have thought about going pixie and donating your tresses to locks of love.  Go for it.  It’s only hair, and it will grow back.  Changing up one’s looks can be very liberating.  Warning; think long and hard about altering your appearance in a permanent way.  Maybe keep the breaks on when heading to the tattoo shop unless you are 110% sure this is what you want to do.  Laser tattoo removal is not cheap and it hurts.

5)  Block your ex on social media

Are you a Facebook stalker?  A rabid Instagram follower, a Snapchat checker, and a general social media addict? Immediately following a breakup, this quality can be poisonous.  If you are following your ex on social media, the day will come when you see him or her with another person on their proverbial arm. This can leave you feeling devastated and set you back on your road to healing.  The other benefit to blocking your ex is that it dissuades you from posting your own flattering pictures and anecdotes, with the intent of showing your ex how exciting and rewarding your life is without them.  Sure, your life is full and rich, but make it so FOR YOU, not to manage your image or impress the ex.

6)  In due time, download a dating app and start dating again — casually

Vowing to stay single for a period of time post break us in definitely not a bad idea.  You need to time to heal and process whatever lessons need to be learned from your past relationship.  However, dipping your toes back into the dating pool in a casual way can be good when the time is right.  This can help you to realize that there are other fish in the sea, and also give you an opportunity to practice what may have become “rusty” social skills, like making small talk, or calibrating how much to reveal about yourself on a first date.  It may feel awkward and intimidating, and no doubt, you will probably go on some bad dates, but this is not the end of the world.  It is temporary, and no one says you have to go out on date two with a dud.

7)  Throw yourself into work and career

A breakup may hurt your heart, but it can help to further your career and  professional goals.  You now have the time to focus on pushing yourself to get to that next level, professionally, whatever that may look like for you.  Studying for grad school or taking a position in another city may now be more of an option since you no longer have to consider another person in the equation when making career decisions.  Maybe you have been dreaming of striking out on your own, but you have refrained from doing so because the hours involved in opening that bakery or launching that start-up just were not feasible when you had a relationship to consider.  Now may be a good time to feed your career ambitions without the distraction of a partner.

Clearly, undertaking all of these suggestions is not likely doable all at once.  But pick a few, and devote yourself to them.  The goal is to not wallow too, too long in the misery of a break up.  I am not suggesting that you forego an appropriate amount of time for grieving. I am suggesting, however, that there are ways to take care of yourself in the process that just may make the grieving process more bearable and fruitful.

Until next time, peace.