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How to Get Through a Break-Up

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, NCC, LPC 

Growing up, many little girls and little boys fantasize and dream of “the one. They may envision exciting and adventurous dates, romantic moments, an extravagant wedding and the “house full of 3 children along with a picket fence.” Up until teenage years, the hope of this dreams seems so real and imminent. Until that painful event happens: your first break-up. Suddenly, all those dreams no longer seem realistic, but rather a million miles away, buried under all the pain, anguish and sorrow we are left to face as a result of the failed relationship.

A break-up at any age can be painful. Teenagers grieve, young adults grieve and divorcees especially grieve sometimes endlessly for the one their heart belongs to. Several things may cause a break-up: a new job, differences in dreams and goals, infidelity, domestic abuse, the interference or lusting toward a “new love,” a realization that the two in question are not compatible, repetitive arguments over finances and sometimes, it’s just a gradual drifting away between the two hearts. Whatever the case may be, a break-up can wreak havoc on your mental, emotional and physical health. Below we list some strategies to keep in mind should the event occur in your life or someone’s you know. 

1) Give space and time for tears

Grieving is normal after a break-up. It does not matter whether you were together for 2 months or 5 years. Even a friendship which only yielded a 1-week romantic relationship still is worthy of grieving. So grieve. Prepare for the tears and embrace them. You may find that at first, the tears come every day. Then eventually only at certain triggers the tears flow. Allow for them to come, and do not stifle them. This may lead to more dangerous consequences. 

2) Journal

After a break-up, many thoughts usually plague your mind. “Why did this have to happen?” “Am I good enough?” “Can I bare the loneliness and emptiness?” etc. Let the thoughts come, write them down and let them go. Journaling allows for your mental space to receive and release nagging thoughts. You can also track your thoughts, feelings and mood with journaling to identify issues you may need to work out with a therapist for the sake of your future relationships. 

3) Avoid social-media

 It is highly tempting and addictive to stalk your ex-lover on social media. After all, you want to know if they are happy without you, if there is a new person in their life, or where you can “coincidentally” run into them. This may seem gratifying but truthfully, it perpetuates the painful memories and makes it harder to heal. As a rule of thumb, disconnect from social media the moment after the break-up and ensure you are healed instead of ensuring you have tabs on your ex-love 

4) Maintain a proper diet and sleep schedule

During grief, it is so easy to lose track of yourself. The pain, emotions, anguish and millions of thoughts racing through your mind can make it hard to even eat or focus on your favorite tv show. It is very important to be intentional about maintaining your health. This includes having a healthy breakfast and at least a good dinner. It is also important to exercise as this stabilizes your mood with “feel good” hormones called endorphins. The more you attend to yourself in this time, the easier it is to sort out the other issues in a functional manner. 

5) Get social support

There should be no shame in reaching out to your closest family and friends and letting them know you are in need of love and care. Most likely, they will understand as heartbreak and grief over relationships is a universal experience. Enjoy the relationships that you might have placed on the “back burner” during your romance. Now is the time when you truly will benefit from those ties.

6) Practice gratitude

Of all the things that may have gone wrong in the relationship, or in your life, there must be something that has taught you a lesson, made you stronger or wiser, or prepared you for a new season. Reflect on them. Give thanks for them and include them on your gratitude list. Practicing gratitude during a relationship break-up is a great way to foster resilience. Studies show those who are positive toward their break-up recover stronger and go on to enjoy new relationships more than those who don’t. 

If you or someone you know is struggling to navigate a difficult breakup, please do not hesitate to reach out to Symmetry Counseling today to arrange your appointment for therapy in Chicago!

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