Things to do and not to do after a breakup

Healthy Ways to deal with a Breakup – Do’s and Don’ts

Breakups are on a short list of some of the most heartbreaking and painful experiences in life.  Whether the breakup was mutual, a decision you made, or something you didn’t see coming – it’s a loss.  After all, you invested time, energy, and emotion into the relationship.  A part of your identity was associated with your ex.  Daily routines probably involved communicating with this person, spending time with them, and relying on one another for some form of support.  Getting over a breakup isn’t easy, but there are things you can do to cope with the loss more effectively.  Below is a list of the things you should (and should not do) to cope best during this difficult time.

Things you Should Do:

1 – Think about the reasons why this might be good. Often times when you’re struggling with a breakup, it’s easier to focus on how horrible you feel and how bad this is for your life.  It can sometimes be hard to imagine being happy without your ex in your life.  Instead of focusing on the negative, try to think about some of the benefits associated with the end of the relationship.  If it was an unhealthy relationship, it can be viewed as an opportunity to work on yourself and to learn from the experience so that you can approach future relationships from a new and healthier perspective.

2 – Get social (In Real Life) – Find opportunties to be social in real life.  Spend time with family and friends. Meet new people.

3 – Get out and get active. Exercise –  Find opportunities to be active outdoors.  Sunlight, fresh air, and physical activity are good for your mind and can help you cope when feeling down. Isolating yourself indoors will probably only make you feel worse.

4 – Talk about it – Processing difficult emotions by talking to supportive friends, family members, or a counselor can be very helpful.

5 – Work on YOU – Being single provides a great opportunity to work on yourself so that when the time comes to enter a new relationship, you’ll be ready.  Therapy can serve as a good platform for this.  You’ll be able to become more aware of past relationship patterns, work through unresolved personal issues, and explore what it is that you’re looking for out of a potential partner.

6 – Practice self-care and compassion –  Understand that it’s okay and normal to feel sad after a breakup.  Do nice things for yourself.  Treat yourself like you would treat a friend who was dealing with similar pain.

7 – Try doing some things you enjoy alone – Although I can’t emphasize the importance of support from others enough, it can be healthy to try doing some things you already love – or new things you’d like to try – on your own.  Take advantage of the freedom and independence that can come along with being single.  Travel, go to the movies, do some local sight seeing, shop, hit the beach, take up a new hobby, or check out some live music all by yourself.  Take advantage of this opportunity to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it.  If you’re not used to doing this, it can feel a little weird at first..but learning how to thoroughly enjoy being alone, helps set you up for the best possible mindset when the time comes to consider a new relationship.  After all, if you don’t need to be with someone else, then you have the opportunity to be very selective when it comes time to letting someone new in.

Things you should not do:

1 – Don’t Blame yourself or spend too much time revisiting things you could have done differently.  While it can be beneficial to learn from past relationships and behaviors, it is unproductive to spend too much time thinking about things that can no longer be changed or undone.

2 – Don’t spend too much time on Social Media.  After a breakup, it’s sometimes a good idea to take a break from or to limit the amount of time on social media – especially if it means you’ll be exposed to reminders about your ex.  Try not to give in to the temptation of seeing what they’re up to.  Social media provides only a small snapshot of people’s lives and what they might want the world (Or YOU) to see there.  Consider unfriending them (or at least unfollowing them) for now.  Looking them up will highly unlikely result in you finding anything that makes you feel any better – and in most cases, you’ll end up feeling worse.

3. Don’t Be friends right away. While the potential for friendship might be desired – and also possible in the future – the time for friendship is not most ideal immediately after a breakup.  You need time to heal, and maintaining contact after a breakup will only delay that healing process.  Trying to be friends immediately after a relationship can cause pain and confusion – especially if “friendship” is not what either one or both of you really want out of the relationship.

4 – Don’t jump into another relationship right away.  It’s not uncommon to cope with loss of a relationship by looking for a new one right away.  Although this can sometimes make you feel a little better, it’s more of a band-aid approach, and not ideal for a healthy start nor fair to the new person you’re with.  Take some time to recover fully. Learn from the past.  Make sure that when the time comes to consider entering a new relationship, that you’re in an emotionally good place and able to be the best possible version of yourself.  The time-frame for deciding whether or not it’s a good idea to start looking again varies depending on some different factors. They might include the length of the relationship and how painful the breakup was.

5 – Don’t be too impulsive or self-destructive. Breakups can lead to behaviors that provide some kind of immediate gratification or relief, but that only lead to more pain and regret.  These might include: drinking or eating excessively, seeking revenge, making dramatic changes to physical appearance, venting about your pain on social media, wanting to escape the situation you are in by making major life decisions or changes, or seeking other forms of unhealthy coping.  Take a step back. Try to act as an observer of your life.  Recognize your impulses, choose to take time before acting on them, and explore healthy ways of coping with your distress.  Consider options, such as mediation, self-help material, exercise, therapy, and some of the other things suggested “to do” after a breakup listed in the section above.

Remember that a breakup is a loss and a form of grief. It’s normal to feel the way you’re feeling, and to swing from both positive and negative emotions while going through the process.

If you’re considering starting counseling to help with a breakup or the struggles associated with being newly single, feel free to send a message to Joel Schmidt – Licensed Counselor in the Carrollwood area of Tampa. You deserve to process the loss and to be heard. Therapy is a great step you can take towards healing and positive growth and change.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment, you can call or text 727-258-5231 or you can send a message directly.  We’ll walk you through the simple steps to getting started and scheduling your first appointment.

If you have any questions, we’ll be glad to answer them.  You can also check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Joel Schmidt, MA, LMHC

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