Braving the break up: 5 tips for getting through it

Your weekends are filled with showers and bachelorette parties for newly engaged friends, your newsfeed is dominated by your exes’ wedding photos, and you’ve just gone through a break up. It’s enough to make you want to grab the nearest spoon and eat your weight in Ben and Jerry’s.

Break ups are no fun, and neither is the acute awareness of your singleness that follows. There’s no quick fix or easy way to fast forward through the pain like a bad scene from a chick flick, but here are a few ways to lean into those break up blues (without emptying the ice cream carton) and practice a little self-care while you’re getting back on your feet.

1. Let your closest friends in on how you’re feeling.

There will be days when you feel like a weight has lifted now that you’re out of a relationship that you knew deep down wasn’t quite right. But there may also be moments when you just feel like crawling into bed to self-medicate with Dove chocolate and Amy Winehouse. The ups and downs will co-exist. Acknowledge both, and don’t try to keep up a poker face for your best friends. Embracing that newfound freedom? Let them celebrate with and be proud of you. A little teary that things didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped? They probably know the feeling too. They are your best friends for a reason, and they may have that much-needed word of encouragement when you need it most. Or, bare minimum, a Kleenex to spare.

2. Mourn the loss.

Grief is real, even (and maybe especially) after a break up. A relationship that you have invested precious time, energy, and emotions in is now over, and a person who had become a staple in your life has suddenly been removed. That’s worth acknowledging. It may feel tempting to prolong the denial phase by gritting your teeth and playing it off as just another minor scrape in the game of love, but go ahead and recognize that loss sooner rather than later. When you run into your ex a year down the road at a crowded party, you’ll maintain composure when you have allowed yourself to grieve his absence in your life and move into acceptance. Your former boyfriend, however, will most likely pine for you from afar — or at least that’s what you’ll choose to believe.

3. Don’t jump back into the dating scene too quickly.

Give that heart of yours a breather. You’ll get back out there soon enough, but dating on a broken heart rarely produces positive results. Right off the heels of a relationship, it’s easy to spend too much time comparing someone new to the last guy, or to wind up with another Mr. Wrong because the distraction feels kind of nice. Take some time to process on your own and don’t pile onto the hurt of that broken heart by making choices you might later regret. You’ll be more ready for a fresh start and a new relationship once you’ve had some time to heal.

4. Avoid unnecessary rehashing.

Nothing sows bitterness more easily than too many voices echoing that you were right and he was wrong. Now that the relationship is over, the over-analyzing and dissecting every detail can subside. It’s easy to find a willing listener who will listen to your story and sympathize with you at every turn, but it doesn’t take long to end up casting your ex as a villain. Process through your lessons learned with a trusted few, and consider what you would do differently moving forward. And then, allow yourself the freedom of leaving the past in the past.

5. Set a new goal for yourself.

Especially one that gets you moving. Run a half marathon with a friend or take up kick-boxing. Sure, working out might not be comprehensive therapy, but a few extra endorphins sure aren’t going to hurt anyone. Identify those new extra hours in your schedule that aren’t tied up by 9 p.m. phone calls and drinks after work and invest in those hobbies and activities that you’ve been neglecting. You may find that yoga is a huge stress reliever after that extra long day at work, or that you’re a much better artist than you ever gave yourself credit for. And, the feeling of accomplishment when you’ve mastered a new skill or reached a goal is a great way to boost your confidence.

Break ups are never easy, so give yourself some extra grace through those rough patches, and ultimately embrace the reality that you’re a whole and complete person before and after that relationship. After the dust settles you’ll realize you’re a little wiser and just bit stronger. And you’ve been able to perfect a great recipe for homemade New York Super Fudge Chunk, so there’s that, too.

Photo (Flickr CC) by amanda tipton.