As a life coach who specializes in driven Millennial women, I have so many clients who come to me shaken and hurt from the pain of a breakup. They are often balancing these debilitating emotions with a full workload. I too have had to take a walk around the block in the middle of the workday to cry about the end of a relationship.
This is human! No matter how strong you are, breakups are tough and it can take time to fully recover. Here are some research-backed tips on how to get over a breakup.
1. Let yourself feel grief
One study found that our bodies react similarly to both emotional and physical pain. You can’t ignore the pain, your body (and mind) needs time to heal. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester found that those who don’t say how they feel increase their risk of premature death by 37 percent. Emotions won’t just dissolve within us. They are held in our bodies and that stress can actually hurt us physically. Let yourself feel those emotions and mourn. Breakups are like the death of a good friend: someone who you spent time with regularly is suddenly and dramatically leaving your life.
2. Be easy on yourself
We know you are strong and you have things to do, but emotions take energy. During these tough times, it’s important to not only manage your schedule, but manage your energy. A study by Erica Slotter, a professor of psychology at Villanova University, found that uncertainty is psychologically stressing. In relationships, we often start to plan our futures and the breakup challenges that reality. Schedule time for self-care, relaxation, and extra sleep. Let yourself eat that unhealthy food (within reason) and cut corners from your regular workload/routine. Treat yourself the way you’d want a friend to treat you. Don’t be unreasonable and hard on yourself.
3. Research your and their communication style (Myers-Briggs, etc.)
Oftentimes during a breakup, words are said that are very hurtful. Understanding how your ex sees the world and communicates and how you see the world and communicate. This can help de-personalize those tough breakup conversations (that we often play over and over again in our minds). It can be easy to go down a rabbit-hole of thinking about what they said, but breakups are a great time to reconnect with yourself. Reflect on your strengths and weakness and how they played out in the relationship. Think about learnings for the future as well as remind yourself that there is someone out there who is a better fit for you. We can cling to the good parts of relationships, but the wrong people can bring out the bad aspects of our personalities. You will find someone who better nourishes your best self.
4. Get rid of any “triggers” that remind you of your ex
You have to rewire your brain. During a relationship, we have little things (places you went together, pictures of your partner) that trigger positive reactions in our “reward” neurons, making us feel good. After a breakup, those same things can suddenly trigger sad emotions and oftentimes lead to thinking about all the great parts of a relationship that are now missing from our lives. Try to rewire your brain by reminding yourself of the bad aspects of your relationship as well as removing reminders of your ex. Clear space for new happy memories.
5. Set a deadline to move on
According to Brown, a neuroscientist at Einstein College of Medicine, the pain of a romantic breakup can last up to six months to two years. As I mentioned above, it’s good to allow yourself to feel that pain so it doesn’t manifest in your body, but it’s not good to wallow in that pain. Set a deadline in which before that deadline, you let yourself think about the relationship and mourn the loss (sometimes, admittedly, obsessively), but after that deadline, you are not allowed to do this anymore. Instead if the memories come up, actively remind yourself about rewiring your brain. Then, force yourself to think of a negative thing about the relationship and ask yourself: why am I grateful the relationship is over? Replace those memories with thoughts of how great your new life (and future partner) will be! It’s all about perspective! Empower yourself to move on!
6. Make a dating profile and go on dates
According to research, dating someone new is one of the best ways to get over someone! I can definitely say from personal experience this can sometimes backfire if the date right after a breakup is terrible (yikes!), but getting back out there reminds you that there are other fish in the sea and more exciting opportunities in your future! Put the breakup into big picture context. It is only one person and there are so many better options!
I know from speaking to so many of my clients (and from my own personal experience) it is so much easier to say you’ll get over someone than actually get over them, but these techniques can help you in the process. And remember to reach out and feel grateful for your support network. Your friends and family love you and are there for you in this tough time. Don’t be afraid to lean on them as they have leaned on you!