Hey, Psych2Goers! Let’s talk about one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to go through – a break up. It feels like we’re feeling all the emotions at one and none all at the same time. It’s being hungry and not able to eat, being tired and not able to sleep. In 1969, Murray Parkes, Benjamin, and Fitzgerald found that it’s even possible for your cause of death to be due to a broken heart! It’s super important that we treat a broken heart when it comes along, but what do we do? Here are 8 small habits you can do to help heal a broken heart.
Need help figuring out if you have a broken heart? Check out 9 Signs You Have a Broken Heart first, then swing back on over here.
Side note: This article is for educational purposes and is based on personal opinions. This video is not a substitute for professional advice, but general guidance. We advise you to always listen to your intuition and always do what is right for you.
#1: Don’t push thoughts of your ex away.
A common mistake made in break-ups is trying not to think about your ex. If you don’t think about them, it won’t hurt. When you do this, you’re actually delaying our own healing process. When you allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with the break-up, you allow our minds and bodies to process and work through the event thus minimizing how much it impacts our daily life. Think of a break up like a scrape on your knee. If you try to pretend it isn’t there and don’t take care of it, it could get infected. If you take care of it right away, it’ll heal quickly and properly.
If you feel like this is something a bit challenging for you on your own, please reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional.
#2: Take a break from social media.
Yep. I said it. Put the phone down, and step away from the laptop. There are two main reasons we turn to social media. We’re either a) trying to distract ourselves from feeling/thinking or b) we’re trying to see what our ex is up to. Scrolling through social media can be a way of numbing the pain and stopping the processing period. It can also dig up some pretty negative emotions, especially if you see something about your ex you weren’t prepared to see. If it’s too hard to not log in, maybe deactivate your accounts until you’re ready.
#3: Make plans for yourself to limit idle time.
We just talked about taking the step back from social media, so what do we do with all this new free time? Whatever. You. Want. Is there a language you’ve been wanting to learn? A new class you’ve wanted to take? A new recipe or restaurant you’ve wanted to try? Do it! Go with friends. Take a day trip. Plan some DIY projects around the home. Take time to do what you want, to learn who you are again, and most importantly, find what makes you happy. Doing this limits the time you have alone and without anything positive to keep the mind stimulated. We want to avoid unhealthy thinking about the past and social media binges.
#4: Fight the urge to contact your ex.
We’re talking about all of this great processing work and how to get back in tune with ourselves, which is great when we’re feeling good. Some of us may feel like we’re okay to reach out to our ex after feeling good for a small amount of time. Sometimes, when we’re having a rough day, we think reaching out to them will “make it all better”. Don’t let yourself be fooled! Having any connection to your ex, from seeing a post on their page to texting them to “check in”, takes you three steps backwards from all of the positive progress you’ve made, meaning you have to do that work all over again. When you want to connect with them, think to yourself “Am I going to help or hurt my progress with this?” Usually, the answer isn’t a positive one. Do what’s best for you and your growth!
#5: Be active regularly!
We know that being physically active has a bunch of positive impacts on the body. It helps to relieve stress, releases endorphins, and helps you keep fit and healthy. When going through a break-up, there are a lot of negative emotions and feelings, like stress, frustration, and anger. Getting some regular physical activity can help you work through and release these emotions.
Notice the word regular. If you move a little once, it’s not going to have much effect. At minimum, try to move for 15 minutes daily. This could be taking a 15-minute walk, doing yoga for 15 minutes, running, dancing, or whatever you want it to be. Just move! Notice how you feel when you’re done.
#6: Don’t search for another reason why.
When we are the break-up-er, we give the other person our reason why we want to separate. When we’re the break-up-ee, we’re given a reason and have to take it or leave it. A lot of us will take that reason and search for another that “makes more sense”. Say your ex tells you they’d like to break-up because they’re moving for their job and don’t want to do long distance. It could be true, it could not be. Focusing on finding out if that’s the truth, not only keeps you thinking about your ex, but it forces you to focus on them and the now-over relationship. You’re now putting yourself and your positive progress second. Even if the reason sounds a bit unbelievable to you, making peace with that reason can be one of the healthiest things you do for yourself.
#7: Remember the person and relationship for what they actually were.
Have you ever heard of rose-colored glasses? It’s an older phrase that means just seeing the positive aspects of things and ignoring the negative. Break-ups can give you a hardcore case of rose-colored glasses, but remembering JUST the good times doesn’t help your healing process. Remembering the good times only gives you a false sense of the relationship and causes you to miss this dream version of the relationship you’re mourning. Make sure to remember both the good and not-so-good. It’s fine to miss and mourn a relationship, but also remember the things that needed to be let go.
#8: Evaluate your needs.
After you’ve healed and processed, it may be time to get out there again, but before you jump in, you need to evaluate. You need to do an inventory to evaluate who you are now after your growth, evaluate what you would like in a partner, evaluate what you want in a relationship. Once we’ve done this, then you can enter the dating world knowing what you bring to the table, what you’re looking for, and ready to value and honor yourself through the process.
Whether you’ve gone through a break-up, are going through one, or might be thinking about one, I hope this article gave you a little insight and hope that there is life after a break-up, no matter how messy. Are you going to use some of these tips in your next break up? Any that we forgot? Let us know in the comments. As always, keep your eye on Psi for more Psych2Go content!
Need more insight on break-ups and what to expect? Try 7 Stages After a Break-Up.
The references used in and to compose this article are listed below.
Parkes, C. M., Benjamin, B., & Fitzgerald, R. G. (1969). Broken heart: A statistical study of increased mortality among widowers. BMJ, 1(5646), 740–743. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.5646.740
Schimelpfening, N. (2021, February 16). How to heal a broken heart. Verywell Mind. Retrieved April 22, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-heal-a-broken-heart-1065395
TED. (2018, February 27). How to fix a broken heart | Guy Winch – YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved April 23, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0GQSJrpVhM
TopThink. (2020, February 1). 12 ways to heal your broken heart – youtube. YouTube. Retrieved April 23, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8AFNO4DnlE