Breakups suck. Without a doubt, they are one of the few things in life that can pull you inside out, upside down and shatter your entire world in one second.
Therefore it’s no surprise that breakups tend to bring out the worst in us, resulting in things like ugly-begging the ex back (me), purposely seducing him to get him to see that I’m the best sex ever (hello) and getting REALLY familiar with Moscato (I will deny I had more than 4 glasses a day) and Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.
But they are also one of the few things in life that can either make you or break you. They can either scar you for life or be the best thing that ever happened to you.
If the latter sounds good to you but you don’t want any tired old breakup advice, try the following tried-and-proven methods:
1. Look at Your Feet
It seems a little silly, but that’s the first thing I do after something really devastating has occurred. At the end of my last relationship, looking at my feet really kept me grounded.
Sure, your toes might need some new nail polish, but you need to tell yourself that you’re still standing.
You’re still here.
You’re still breathing.
You’re still alive.
The ground hasn’t opened and swallowed you up. Your legs haven’t failed you and crumpled beneath you.
And if you close your eyes and open them again, realize that absolutely nothing physical about you or your surroundings has changed.
You’re still here, and nothing has changed.
And because the worst has hit you and you’re still here, it can be overcome. Whatever’s next, you’re meant to survive it.
And survive it you will.
2. Be a Robot
It seems counter-productive, but I’ve found that after looking at my feet, shutting down and being a robot just helps so much in getting shit done before I completely allow myself to lose it.
I start by blocking out all emotions and just doing things on auto-run.
I tell myself, “What’s the first thing that has to go to make this easier? What’s the first thing that needs to get done?”
And that first step is to simply block or unfriend the ex on Facebook. It might seem childish to some, however, I don’t like taking chances with my sanity if I see him with the new chick. So screw it.
The second step is to simply pack up all his stuff to give back or chuck into the bin. No selling it or giving it away. I’ve personally found that the longer this stuff stays in my room, the longer the ex stays in my memory.
The third step is whatever I have to do to separate myself psychologically and physically from the ex. It can be contacting the landlord to get myself off the lease, making plans to move back in with my parents or packing up my own things.
Not breaking down in tears or looking like a gargoyle every single time I have to talk to a normal person is so helpful, don’t you think?
So be a robot. Just enough to get the basics done, so that the tough days ahead can be a little less tough.
3. Stare at a Waterfall
Repeat after me:
Water is my magical healing buddy.
Once more time:
Water is my magical healing buddy.
And it really, really is.
I remember booking a hiking trip the week my ex broke up with me and was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful, crystal-clear waterfall near the camping site.
There was a particularly comfy rock there which I immediately claimed as my temporarily perch. I spent the next two hours either taking a dip or gazing silently at the water as it churned and foamed and washed all my emotional crap away.
It felt like everything was being cleansed from my soul, and when I finally went back, I felt like there was actually some hope out of the darkness.
Nature therapy at its finest.
4. Drink Water. Then Drink Even More.
You’ll most likely experience a whole range of physiological responses like increased heart rate, headaches and nausea right after a breakup (unless you’re Buddha.) In response, your body releases cortisol, a primary stress hormone, to help you deal with everything.
But too much cortisol can also heighten all those symptoms, which is the last thing you need right now.
Drinking an extra glass of water can help reduce those cortisol levels because at the very least, you’re not being dehydrated on top of everything, leading to even more stress.
According to science, staying hydrated also decreases the physiological symptoms and keeps you functioning at your best during these times.
So get enough fluids in you and your body will thank you.
5. Breathe. Then Scream into a Pillow
There will be a time where you want to just completely break down and scream at how horrible and stupid and bleak everything is.
And when that time comes, you are completely allowed to lock yourself into a room and just get it all out.
After lots of ugly crying, I found that catching my breath become much easier with a simple pursed-lips breathing technique.
To do that, simply breathe in through your nose for a count of 2, and then purse your lips as if you’re going to blow out a candle. Then, breathe out through your lips for a count of 4.
At that point, I had calmed down, but then the anger had started bubbling up.
If you feel that way too, grab a pillow and scream into it.
Breathe once more using the pursed-lips technique, and then scream again if you have to.
Repeat till you feel every emotion has been screamed out of you and you feel more like yourself again.
6. Run till Everything Doesn’t Matter Anymore
After an awful relationship with a man who manipulated me every single day, I couldn’t get the blackness of him out of my soul.
I felt like everything was not my own, and the horror of it all kept me continuously hitting the running track near my home for relief.
Every single time I ran, I felt like he couldn’t take away this part of me, and that I could protect and shape it into something that was really mine.
So I ran.
Till everything blurred into one and that man got left behind in the dust.
Sure, my legs hurt like hell, but the liberation of my entire being was so beautiful that I could cry.
And that was something he could never take away from me ever again.
7. Look into a Mirror
This will probably be the most uncomfortable thing you’ve done in a while, and I’ll admit, sometimes I would have rather faced down a whole bunch of shitty exes than actually do it.
But hear me out—when was the last time you were completely able to look into a mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself, or that you cared about your pain?
Looking at my own reflection kept me grounded and aligned with my goals, because who else could I be accountable to if not myself?
How can I stare into my own eyes, every day, and promise myself that I’ll be OK if I didn’t mean it?
So breathe and dig deep. Find the courage to look into your own eyes, and promise that woman in the mirror that she will never allow herself to be treated so badly again.
Promise her that no matter what, she’s going to be OK.
And she will be.