Because binge drinking, drunk texting, ex-stalking, or staying in bed for a week aren’t really the only ways to get over a split.
We’ve all been there. Just as a new relationship brings highs, the end of the relationship often bring lows, and these lows can be intense. Just as every relationship is unique, each breakup and how you handle it may vary from past romantic upsets. Hopefully through these experiences, you’ve learned about yourself and your relationship patterns. Of course, it is often easier to reflect on these lessons with the passage of time. And here you are, again.
Of course, any time we are out of sync with our internal needs, there can be consequences to our physical health. From our heart (some people literally feel physical pain in the chest) to our brain (the neurotransmitters firing are typically not the ones associated with feeling uplifted) to our appetite (it may disappear, or we may just eat mindlessly) to our basic hygiene, it’s not just our emotions that are out of whack.
In addition to the emotional toll of a romantic breakup, a breakup can have a huge effect on you physically. Being in a state of distress or heightened stress can affect so many aspects of our lives, including our physical health. We may ignore our body’s internal cues to sleep, eat, and generally take care of ourselves. Couple this with competing real world demands and work expectations and it may just seem too much to handle.
If you’re in the midst of this right now (or are helping someone who is), you know this all too well. Getting un-stuck and moving forward can seem a near-impossible feat at times. How can pick yourself out of a rut?
What You Do for Yourself Matters
While you’re in-the-moment and feeling some degree of acute heartache or hurt, this is actually the time to be taking a closer look at how you’re taking care of yourself. Thoughtfully considering your actions will have a significant impact on how you feel.
Taking an honest assessment of what you’ve been doing to “help” yourself is essential if you really want to help yourself. We can choose any number of ways to cope when we are faced with stress, but some actions are obviously more adaptive than others. Binge drinking, drunk texting, ex-stalking, risky sexual behavior, or even just not getting out of bed (for days) may feel like the natural way to respond in the situation you are in (at least some of the time.) However, if you’re being honest with yourself you know that any benefits of responding in any of these ways may be outweighed by risks, including the very real risk of developing some unhealthy habits or furthering your downward emotional spiral and getting into an even worse place.
Learn to Let it Out
It’s OK to feel whatever it is that you are feeling. Hurt does hurt, and bottling up emotions is worse for you in the long run. Letting your emotions out is healthy and can be cathartic, as long as you are careful about how you share those emotions. Confiding in close and trusted friends, going to counseling or therapy, writing/ journaling, or throwing some hoops can bring about emotional release; However, so can going on a rampage about your ex on social media. Consider the consequences.
Suddenly … You’re Free
A huge part of your lifestyle has changed, and you may suddenly find yourself with a lot more time. This is actually an opportunity, perhaps in disguise. You may feel better if you focus your attention outward on something other than yourself. Call a friend. Immerse yourself in a hobby, perhaps even something new that you’ve been meaning to explore. Go to the gym. Join a team. Negative emotions can be channeled into positive ones through our actions.
This is also a great opportunity to think about your daily habits and to consciously decide to start new, healthier ones. Perhaps you and your ex fell into some unhealthy routines (e.g. watching too much TV, not making it to the gym.) Now you can break these routines and replace it with something that you feel better about. After all, this is a chance to start fresh.
It is also a time to dust off what may have been cast aside while you were in the relationship. You can lean on old friends and the people who have been there for you in the past. Now is a good time to consider what you want out of these (and other) relationships going forward.
The same holds true with relearning yourself. It is a fantastic time to get acquainted with your future goals and the type of man that you want to be going forward, whether as a relationship partner or to yourself. What is it that you really want for yourself? How can you be more present in your daily life and in future relationships? Few things can make you as self-reflective than change and loss.
Then You Hear From Your Ex
You’ve gotten into a new rhythm and things are going OK. Then something happens — you may have gotten a text or heard some news — and emotions are triggered. Perhaps you’ve decided to meet up with your ex against your better judgement which has left you more confused than ever. It is best to be mindful of your own emotions in-the-moment and try to assess motivations (yours and your ex’s) before entering into anything that has consequences. If you feel that you’ve made a mistake, remember to be compassionate toward yourself, chalk it up to a life lesson, and move forward.
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