The holidays tend to bring our romantic relationships into focus, placing us square in the middle of both cuffing season and breakup season. So, if you find yourself newly single and getting over a breakup, know that there are plenty of people in the trenches of heartbreak right along with you. Here are 11 tips to try if you’re tired of your friends telling you, “It just takes time.”
Set yourself up on the road to recovery with these 11 tips from Mend app founder Elle Huerta.
We won’t say “avoid the comparison game,” because it’s inevitable, but keep it in check (especially on Instagram!)
If you’re comparing how you’re doing with how it appears your ex is doing or how you think you should be doing, it means you’re spending too much energy and time comparing. Stop yourself in your tracks with this mantra: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
When getting over a breakup, going through it feels a lot like withdrawal because you’re no longer getting all of those happy feel-good hormones (endorphins! oxytocin!) from your partner. Remember that rush of falling in love? Heartbreak induces the opposite feeling, so be patient with yourself and acknowledge that it’s normal and human to feel like absolute shit. And just know that it won’t last forever.
A breakup may happen IRL or on your phone, but breakups echo in Instagram, text message threads and inboxes. If you can’t completely detox from tech for a bit, at least monitor how it’s making you feel. If you are sent into a tailspin every time you see your ex’s text thread or when your ex’s photos appear on Instagram’s “explore” function, it’s time to take a digital detox.
Start by monitoring your phone usage with an app like Moment. Back photos and texts up, and then clear them from your phone. A digital detox does wonders for a broken heart.
Even though you may feel like being alone after a breakup, it’s important to be around friends or family, even if you just Netflix together. The challenge is that sometimes friends are at a loss for what to do when someone is hurting, and that can end up unintentionally looking like apathy.
It helps if you tell your friends exactly how they can help. For example: “Will you go with me to that party next week so I don’t have to go alone?” or “Could you come over for dinner this week because I don’t feel like going out?”
Research shows that romantic rejection causes real, detectable pain (it lights up the same pain center in the brain that lights up when you break a bone), so take extra care of your body. Get enough sleep, eat whole foods, use a dry brush daily, and do something active every day—even if it’s just walking around the block—to trigger the release of endorphins. Breathwork and meditation are also two free tools that are proven to help with pain, and you can tap into them anywhere.
Whether it’s IRL, on your phone’s notepad, or in a self-care app like Mend, set aside time every day to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and goals for the week. Keeping a journal helps you keep track of your thought patterns and also helps you process your experience and craft a narrative around it so that you can mend. Bonus: Write down three things you’re grateful for every day for a mindset boost.
Remind yourself that a breakup doesn’t mean you’re fatally flawed. You’re not doomed to be alone forever because this one relationship ended. Research by psychology professor Carol Dweck shows that when you have a growth mindset (a.k.a. you believe you have the capacity to grow and learn from experiences) vs. a fixed mindset (a.k.a. you believe you are unlovable or fatally flawed because of the breakup), you bounce back faster when getting over a breakup. So keep tabs on how you talk to yourself about the breakup and flip the script if you’re feeling fixed.
We tend to be understanding, rational, and empathetic when our friends come to us after their breakups, but where are we when we need ourselves most? One thing that can help you put your breakup in perspective is thinking about the advice you’d give your best friend. This helps you to practice more self compassion, and it can also increase your self-esteem. Your best friend thinks you’re worthy of love and strong enough to get through anything, so why don’t you?
It can be tempting to wallow and ruminate over every detail 24/7, and your brain may try to do that, but it’s important to give yourself mental breaks. Distraction is okay (and healthy) if it’s not your number one coping strategy.
Go see a movie, go to coffee with a friend, or call a loved one so that you can get some momentary relief, especially in the early days when the pain is overwhelming and you’re more prone to obsessive thinking.
Every time you choose to love, you get to know your heart a little better. And every time you go through a breakup, your heart becomes a little stronger. You also learn more about who you are and what you want, and that time of self-reflection is irreplaceable. Take this time to ask yourself the tough questions: Who am I? What do I want? What brings me happiness?
Let yourself sit still long enough to hear the answers.
Missing someone is OK, so don’t scold yourself if you’re still having those feelings. Missing is a sign that the person meant something to you. As Anne Lamott so beautifully says, “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
Ultimately, every heartbreak has a silver lining, and your job is to tune in to yourself and figure out what yours is. You have complete freedom now to get clear on who you are and what you want from life. Harness your emotions and let them propel you forward into the next chapter.
Elle Huerta is the founder of Mend, the essential self-care app for getting over heartbreak.
Words: Elle HuertaPhoto: Stocksy