Here’s a list of 10 ways to bounce back from a break-up:
1. Allow yourself time to grieve.
Maybe your relationship was 10 years long. Maybe it was only 10 months long.
No matter what, you were invested in it and the end of it is a loss for you. Acknowledge your feelings and call them what they truly are: grief.
Allow yourself the time you need to grieve over your loss. Even if the people around you are saying that the break-up was good for you – even if you know the break-up was a good thing – you need to remember that the end of anything is still a loss.
Let your grief naturally ebb and flow like the tide. Healing will come.
2. Remember that you’re human and the vast majority of humans have survived break-ups.
One of the things that is really hard about break-ups is that the feelings are so powerful that it seems like you’re the only one who has ever felt this strongly about it.
It might be difficult if the break-up is recent, but try to remember that 1.) We’re all human beings, 2.) Human beings are relationship-oriented, 3.) Most human beings have more than one relationship in their lifetime, which means 4.) Most human beings have survived a break-up.
You will too. Keep the faith.
3. Resistance is futile.
Trying to avoid your feelings by distracting yourself with being busy, drinking too much, or jumping into another relationship may work in the short term, but it will backfire quickly after that.
Resisting something tends to make it grow larger so you might try to just allow your thoughts and feelings to be as they are rather than trying to push them away.
4. Stay social.
This really isn’t a good time to withdraw completely. You might want and need to spend time alone, but try to get some time in with close friends, too. Being social not only helps you feel better, but it creates greater space within you for processing events and solving problems.
5. Do something nice for others.
More and more research is coming out that shows that being kind to others bolsters our own sense of wellness and contentment. So practice some random acts of kindness each day. It will help get you out of your own head and back into the world of others.
6. Take your time.
Break-ups are painful and none of us likes pain.
But remember that you have time and time really is a great healer. The urge may be to jump into another relationship as a way to stop the hurting going on inside.
However, this premature action may not only hurt you, it may also hurt the person you use to alleviate your pain during a short-term, “rebound” relationship.
7. Remember that you’re naturally resilient.
Researcher George Bonanno has found that most people are naturally resilient. This means that the majority of us tend to bounce back from heartache, tragedy, and trauma in our own time. You probably will, too.
8. Be with people if you’re an extravert, take alone time if you’re an introvert.
If you’re someone who gains energy from being around other people – an extravert – make sure you don’t close yourself off from others. You may feel like retreating, but extraverts need people time so that they don’t get depressed. You may already be depressed enough about the break-up and you don’t need to make it any worse!
If you’re someone who needs down time to recharge – an introvert – make sure that you get enough alone time. But you need to be careful: introverts also need some social interaction to stay balanced and healthy, so don’t use introversion as an excuse to isolate.
9. Think of things you’re grateful for. But only once a week.
Gratitude really does help. But sometimes making a daily list can be overwhelming or a disincentive. Luckily, research shows that the best use of gratitude is to make a list or take time to think about it one time per week. That way, the list doesn’t get stale and the behavior of being grateful doesn’t seem like a chore.
10. Don’t let your demons steer your ship.
Over on my other blog, I recently wrote about how to manage your emotional demons. There’s a great metaphor by therapist Russ Harris about how our painful emotions are like demons on a boat that we’re trying to steer. When we steer somewhere they don’t want to go, they threaten and hiss and growl until we obey them.
However, if we just notice them and allow them to be there, we find that we can sail our boat in any direction we please even with the demons still aboard.
Your emotions are probably pretty raw right now and those demons are probably telling you that they’ll always be with you, tossing your ship to and fro in the storm. But don’t let them bully you. Just nod and say hello and keep sailing toward the sunset of hope and healing.
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Last reviewed: 30 Jun 2013