10 Ways to Get-Over a Break-Up

If this article caught your attention, chances are you’re part of the heartbreak club (HC for short). Congratulations! We’ve all got tattoos and secret handshakes.

sad-hippie-breeze But in all seriousness, being part of the club really sucks–at first. I feel sick thinking back to that period of my life where I vacillated between feeling numb, vacant–like a shell of a human being, and feeling shattered, wounded, disbelieving that I might ever heal my physically excruciating heart. And don’t even get me started on the anxiety, anger, or suicidal thoughts (yes, that’s normal). Or the insomnia. Or the inability to do anything. Anyhow, I could go on, but given that you probably know what it’s like, here are some tips for getting over it the yogi fashionista way.

1) Find a balance between grieving and distracting 
When we experience heartbreak, we’re going through grief, and grief mimics depression. It’s natural to lose concentration and motivation, experience disruptions in sleep and appetite, and feel like you’re functioning at 20%. The only way out of grief is through, but you can’t do that 24/7. As a result, it’s important to find a balance between distracting yourself from the pain, and going through the pain.

If you distract yourself from the grief 24/7, you won’t adjust to what’s actually going on. Grieving happens naturally, so you don’t necessarily have to structure. However, sometimes having some structure can help temper the process. Here are some ideas for “actively” grieving:

  • Throw on some Adele, Whitney, or Leona and dance (or lie on the floor and cry—both work!)
  • Get a big poster board and some paint, and throw down your emotions in whatever form they take (do it for the process, not the product)
  • Write how you’re feeling: write poetry, write your story (again, process, not product)
  • Talk to a therapist, a friend, a parent
  • Pay attention to your dreams. We generally grieve through them..
  • Do yoga and breathe through the sticky spots, pain, and blockages, physically and emotionally

2) Change up your environment and make new memories
I remember a freshly heartbroken friend telling me she’d taken part in a biathalon the previous weekend. Surprised, given biathalons aren’t exactly common weekend activities, even in Canada, she said “It’s now one memory that doesn’t involve Aaron.” Transitioning out of a relationship is very challenging when every memory you have–every part of your identity–is tied to your former. If you can afford it, travel. Join a team. Take up a new hobby. Start volunteering somewhere. Start making memories that aren’t tied to them. Similarly, change up your environment if you can. If moving is totally unrealistic, change your bedroom around. Throw away reminders. If you aren’t ready to throw them away, put the pics and jewellery and whatever else into a box and ask a friend if you can store it at their place. Or store it in your closet and tape it up. That way, you can choose to look through it if you’re feeling particularly ready to take that step in the grieving process. Either way, being surrounded by reminders is not helpful for the process.

3) Find validation for your story
In the midst of my pain of the breakup of ’11, I asked everyone I met if they’d been heartbroken before. If their answer was yes, I asked them to tell me the story. I asked my friends and family members the gory details of their stories (there’s always a worse one out there…), but I didn’t stop there. Cashier at Whole Foods? Sure. Bartender? Why not? And what did I learn? Our club is pretty inclusive. Billions of people out there have been through it, survived it, and will often tell you it’s the best thing that ever happened to them. So ask people to tell you their stories and tell them yours (although maybe be more selective than me when deciding who to tell…or at least skip the Whole Foods cashier unless there’s no line).

Other ways to find validation for your story? Speak to a therapist. Listen to songs about heartbreak. Empathize with your own feelings.

4) Make friends with your emotions
I distinctly remember the morning I decided to stop telling sadness to “Eff off.” I’d just woken up, from yet another dream that I was back together with said heartbreaker, and I’d experienced that familiar sinking, sickening feeling that accompanied my sobering reality. I felt so weak. So tired of fighting my painful feelings. I sighed and actually said out loud, “Hello, Sadness.” There’s a poem called “The Guesthouse” that I often think of when I’m feeling difficult emotions. Couched in Buddhist philosophy, it suggests that we invite all our emotions in–the good, the neutral, and the bad. We don’t judge them. We serve them all tea. We let them stick around and do their thing because, realistically, telling them to leave doesn’t work anyway. Now, you might not get to a point where you actually befriend sadness, or anger, or regret, or whatever it is that you’re feeling, but do try to make space for it. Acknowledge it. Sit with it. Breathe into it. Practise self-compassion while you explore it. It will come and it will go.

5) Connect with others
When we experience the ultimate rejection that is heartbreak, our self-esteem takes a major hit. I remember one of the first things I did was make a consultation for breast implants and a nose job. Because…that was why he left me, right? It’s natural to feel underconfident, insecure, and undesirable following the big break. Even though you might not exactly feel spritely, try to go against your instinct to isolate, and surround yourself with others. It’s important for you to be reminded just how awesome, worthy, and loveable you are. Each hangout doesn’t have to be a therapy session. Just be in the company of others.

 6) Find Meaning
This is a really tough one to enact right away. You won’t be able to find meaning in your suffering until you begin to experience happiness and positivity again. Until you begin to say things like, “if Voldemort hadn’t broken up with me, this (positive thing) wouldn’t have happened/I wouldn’t have learned (enlightening knowledge). If your heartbreak is fresh, just trust that down the road, you WILL be able to find meaning. Heartbreak is one of the great (almost) universal experiences, and it’s in this suffering that we learn, grow, develop, and become more whole human beings. HC 4 lyyyfe!

7) Keep in mind nonlinear process of healing; Remember you are not your thoughts or feelings; Remember impermanence. 
This isn’t so much one tip, as a few reminders: Remind yourself that healing and grieving are nonlinear processes. It’s 2 steps forward and 1 back, or sometimes 3 back. So don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you’ve taken a “slide.” Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts, and you’re not your feelings. If you feel unloved, it doesn’t mean you are unloveable. If you feel like your life is over, it’ doesn’t mean it is. Remind yourself that emotions are impermanent and transient; they will come and go, and come and go again. Breathe through the discomfort. Give yourself permission to feel it.

 8) Keep up with basic needs/take care of yourself
It’s pretty common to forget about minor details of your life such as eating and sleeping. You might find you’re overeating or undereating, oversleeping or undersleeping, drinking too much and skipping the gym. In the moment, it might feel like those things will make you feel better, but they generally make things worse. Try to keep to a routine (write it down, put a , as grief might suppress your appetite in the moment and cause you to binge later, stay up all night and feel like a crazy person during the day, and give up on the gym because you don’t have the energy, when you could really use the endorphins right now!

9) Delete them from Social Media; delete their closest friends (at least temporarily); Delete their number out of the phone.
You might think “But when s/he sees me after I’ve lost weight/gotten my new haircut/travelled the world” s/he’s going to regret it!” Maybe. But is that possibility worth the TORTURE of seeing them with another partner, having fun, moving on? Being reminded of him every time you go on Fbook or Instagram? No way jose. Do the delete. You can always add him later if things turn around. As for their close friends who will be posting photos of them, send the friend a message and let them know why you’re unfriending. Even if they’re not part of the club, they’ll probably understand. And, as for their phone number, prevent potential drunk texting disasters by giving a friend your ex’s number for safe-keeping, and delete for now.

10) Be your biggest support
 I think this is the most important point of all. When you’re already in so much pain, the last thing you need is judgment from yourself. Practise self-compassion, try not to judge yourself (this includes judging yourself for thinking or feeling, or judging yourself for “not coping properly”). Soothe yourself. Lower your expectations for performance. Ask for help. Be patient with yourself.

Additionally, let yourself feel hope until hope is no longer serving you. Hope is necessary for some time. Some people might say it’s denial, and sure, maybe it is, but it serves a purpose. You just can’t comprehend what things would be like if this truly were over. So hope for them to come back. Hope for things to work out. It’s OK to do that… to a certain point. When you’re ready to move towards acceptance, you will. And you can go back and forth between acceptance and hope. Sometimes dozens of times a day. Be kind to yourself as you go through this process. Don’t’ beat yourself up for having the thoughts or feelings that you’re having. Say to yourself what you would say to a friend going through a similar situation.

You can’t generally speed up the process of healing heartbreak. You can slow it down by distracting yourself from the grief 24/7 and keeping your ex around (creeping them on Facebook counts), but the only way out is through. The good thing, though, is that it really does (generally) get better with time, and all you have to do is survive. So hit a Vinyasa class, surround yourself by people who make you feel loved, and take this as an opportunity to make your best relationship the one with yourself. Namaste from a fellow HC Yogi!

meganMegan Bruneau is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at a post-secondary institution in Vancouver, Canada. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Family Studies. Previously involved in personal training and yoga industries, Megan practices psychotherapy using cognitive-behavioral therapy grounded in Buddhist philosophy. 

Web: www.oneshrinksperspective.com

Twitter: @MeganBruneau

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