Despite what romantic movies might tell us, getting over the end of a relationship sometimes requires more than eating ice cream in your pajamas—it can be a complex emotional process that takes a long time and has many different stages. After a break-up, you may experience a range of emotions that vary in intensity. It’s totally normal, though it can be very difficult.
While there’s no strategy for making a break-up easy or painless, there are ways to get through the process with your mental health intact or improved.
We learn and grow from every experience, particularly the painful ones.
Feel Your Feelings
The most important of these is straightforward: allow yourself to feel your feelings.
When it comes to negative emotions, the way out is through. Avoiding bad feelings won’t make them go away.
When you’re tempted to push them away or ignore them, hit the pause button. Allow yourself to experience all the emotions that go along with ending your relationship—sadness, anger, loneliness, or whatever else you are feeling. Get curious about them. Become aware of the defense mechanisms you resort to when you’re tempted to hide from the pain, so you can stop them in their tracks.
Sometimes you might also have positive emotions, like relief that you’re no longer in the stressful relationship or gratitude for the time you and the other person had together and how you grew in the relationship. Feel these fully too.
Feel it all. The good and the bad. So you can fully digest and move on. Unless and until you are backed up with the old, there won’t be room for the new.
As we said, break-ups can be an emotionally complex process. Give yourself the time you need to truly feel and work through all of your emotions.
During this time, be sure you’re also taking care of yourself. Curling up on the couch with a delivery of junk food might sound like what you want and need at this time, but isolation and poor nutrition are likely to do more harm than good.
Even when it’s hard, remember to look out for your health and general well-being.
Working out, getting good sleep, talking to friends and family, cleaning your home, and doing your laundry—these sound mundane, but they’ll help keep you healthy and grounded. They’ll also help you establish a new sense of what your life looks like.
On days where you really can’t keep up with your normal tasks, be kind to yourself.
Grief is not part of your normal routine. It’s disruptive. It’s special—especially if you’re taking the time to experience and understand your feelings. Be present with where you are at. Acknowledge that you’re in strange place during a break-up, and do the best you can to nurture your own well-being.
Building a New Life
As you work through the emotions that come with a break-up, you’ll recognize that this is your opportunity to build the life you truly want.
Perhaps you gave up some of the things you like to do during your relationship, or drifted away from friends. Now it’s time to reconnect.
Doing things you enjoy or spending time with people you like can help you gain a stronger sense of who you are and what matters to you.
Just keep in mind that your goal is not to stay busy for the sake of distracting yourself from your emotions. Instead, you’re building healthy connections and rediscovering what motivates you.
During this time, it’s important to keep some distance from your ex. Resist the urge to look at their social media page or text them. Focus instead on working through your emotions and building a new life for yourself without that person.
It’s natural to miss them and the role they played in your life. But you’ll feel better sooner if you focus on creating the life that makes you happy instead of ruminating about how your former partner let you down or wondering what they’re doing now.
Break-ups can be intense and painful experiences, and they can leave you with questions about your emotions and what your life should look like now.
Let yourself feel your feelings and commit to keeping yourself healthy and moving forward on your emotional journey.
If you need help working through these issues, contact Manhattan Mental Health Counseling to set up an appointment with a counselor by calling 212-960-8626. Our compassionate, trained therapists can help you work through difficult emotions and build a life you love.