Healing From a Breakup

October 28, 2022

Let’s just say it: breakups suck.

There’s no two ways around it. Regardless of whether it ended civilly and amicably, or went down in a dramatic, cartwheeling ball of flames, breakups are simply one of those un-fun parts of life.

Breakups often upend life as we know it and force us to sit with, at the very least, uncomfortable, but often very painful emotions, memories, and realizations.  With everything that is happening, this pain can feel overwhelming and make even the most even-keeled folks feel out of control, so I wanted to share a few ways to help you move through and heal from a breakup.

1. Establish boundaries with your ex 

Even if the breakup is amicable, it is still very important to be clear about how often, if at all, you would like to communicate with or see your ex. Some people need more space and time than others and communicating what each of you needs as you are healing is beneficial, if not vital to a healthy split. Even if you plan to remain friends, consider if a temporary break from communication might be a good idea for you to settle.  

If the relationship was not healthy or ended in a way volatile, setting boundaries is even more important.

Regardless of how the relationship ends, unfollowing, unfriending, or muting your ex on social media or setting their contacts to “Do Not Disturb” or even blocking them, even if only temporarily, could be for the best.  In the most extreme cases where your physical safety is threatened or at risk, a restraining order might be necessary.

2. Rally the troops

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And by “troops”, I mean your support system. Surrounding yourself with people who will provide a listening ear, love (sometimes even the tough kind), validation, encouragement, and advice.  We are social creatures and it is not healthy for us to go through these trying times alone.  It’s important to remember that you can ask for what you need from your support people.  It can feel very invalidating to just need someone to listen to you and instead they start trying to “fix” the situation or telling you what they think you should do, so be honest and direct.  Tell your friend or family member if you need them to be angry with you/on your behalf, just listen, distract you with humor, or give you advice.    

3. Feel all the things

As we established above, there are usually a lot of emotions that come up when we experience a breakup, emotions that don’t always feel good- sadness, anger, betrayal, confusion, etc.  When these emotions do bubble up, it can be easy to want to distract, disconnect, or outright avoid experiencing those emotions. However, the most beneficial thing we can do for ourselves during this time is to allow those intense feels to come up and out.  Emotions cannot be processed if we’re shutting them down

4. Cut yourself some slack

Actually…scratch that.  Cut yourself a lot of slack.  As we established earlier, breakups are hard.  They are exhausting.  They turn our world upside down and often make us wonder if we’ll ever feel “normal” again. Normalcy does come with time, but rushing it will only end up prolonging the pain in the long run so take your time.  Be gentle with yourself. Let yourself cry, rest, scream, laugh, and hibernate.  Let your room get messy, cancel plans, and let yourself order take out. Focus on taking care of yourself.  Allow yourself to grieve in process.  There is no timeline or handbook for this.  Take it one moment at a time. 

5. Get your groove back

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If it’s good enough for Stella, it’s good enough for you! (I might have dated myself with that reference).  Breakups, especially messy ones that stem from unhealthy relationships, have a way of draining our confidence.  Being suddenly single can feel unbearably lonely. It can be easy to lose yourself in an “us”, and when the “us” dissolves, we’re left feeling empty and lost.  The urge to jump directly into another relationship and fill the hollow spot can feel enticing. Don’t. Give yourself time to focus on yourself.  Allow yourself to get reacquainted with who you are, what you like, and what you need.  Take stock of the lessons you’ve learned.  Reconnect with friends you’ve lost touch with.  Meet new people.  Re-engage in a hobby you enjoy or try something you’ve always wanted to try.  Give your system a chance to update, if you will. 

6. Get more help if you need it

Sometimes we bounce back quickly from a split. Other times we might need a little more support. If it feels like the support from your friends and loved ones isn’t quite cutting it or if you feel like you aren’t getting the help you need, contacting a mental health clinician could be helpful. Therapists can help you work through the tough realization and emotions you might be experiencing.  They can provide a listening ear, powerful validation, and gentle reflection without judgment.   

If you find yourself experiencing severe anxiety or depression, flashbacks, nightmares, or obsessive thoughts/behaviors, or if you are feeling unsafe, it is particularly important that you seek help as these could be signs of post traumatic stress disorder, which can be difficult to deal with on your own.  If you have thoughts of harming yourself or thoughts of suicide, call 911, go to your local emergency room, or call/text 988 to talk to someone

Begin Therapy in St. Louis, MO

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Ending a relationship can feel overwhelming and just downright cruddy when you’re in it, but it can be helpful to remember that the intense emotions will mellow with time.  It won’t always feel as terrible as it does right now.  Healing takes time and its important process your relationship and breakup before moving into a new relationship, but you don’t have to go through the process alone.  Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.  Talking with a therapist can help. To begin therapy in St. Louis, MO:

  1. Schedule an appointment with us.
  2. Get to know our team of excellent therapists. 
  3. Heal from your breakup.