How to Effectively Recover from a Breakup

Breakups are absolutely the worst events you can endure in this life. We see it a lot in the media where movies are inspired to have a storyline on unrequited love, lost love, or showcase a pivotal point of the storyline that includes a breakup or divorce. To me, breakups can be a pivotal moment in your life and it can be the domino that starts this whole domino effect to get your life and dreams in order. Breakups will make you re-evaluate ALMOST everything in your life, including plans for the future that you most likely had included that certain person in. 

Breakups have become the reason why I was eager to get away and escape from my home state or places that made me feel reminded of my previous relationship. Of course, I love to go on an adventure for myself and for the joy of it, but I would say a little fraction of why I do what I do and live my absolute fullest in life is that I felt I spent so much time with someone, that there needs to be a place of reflection and re-building, whether it’s your self-esteem or your plans. I want to take my power back from the pain and turn that pain into something golden FOR ME.

A couple of months ago, I went through a traumatizing breakup with someone I fell for. It was probably one of the worst types of breakups you can ever go through: being blindsided. My trust completely shattered after this and it was apparent to me that the person I loved was not willing to fight the problems with me or fight for me when they made me feel disposable. I would’ve never thought that person would leave me in the complete dark. I felt helpless and I felt like this was all undeserving. However, I found out in just 5 months how far I have come since; I was getting over him and the fall out of our relationship. 

I am not a dating expert or coach by any means, nor do I ever want to be, but I am just a normal woman who mainly travel blogs, and wants to share her experience from something MANY of us struggle with or have struggled with. 

This is basically a bible for how to ease your pain through a life change and I wish someone wrote things like this before, but here I am:

Don’t put a time limit on recovery.

Everyone will heal on their own time. I browsed the subreddit /breakups on Reddit for months and I read so many cases of so many people’s breakups. A lot of people are trying to heal even after 6 months, some are over it in a month. And just because I significantly improved in 5 months doesn’t mean that’s when you should put an expectation of yourself to heal too. In fact, many of my other relationships before this last one took me several more months longer to heal. Some of these things will depend on some of the things I’ll list below. Time isn’t the only thing that will heal, but what you actively do about it during the time after your breakup will.

Get your butt to therapy right away.

I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve met and talked to that have claimed they went to therapy as a result of a breakup. It is pretty common! I was one of those, but I also realized there were some things I had to address in combination too (like losing my dad and facing my inner child wounds). I’ll mention this first, but YES, get your butt to therapy ASAP after a breakup. 

Whether it’s talk therapy, EMDR, a support group, medication management, or other types of therapy, do it! The reason being is that therapy will help you identify what went wrong, what patterns you can change so you can have more successful dating next time, to find ways to rebuild your self-esteem and self-worth, and to process the things in that relationship that affected you greatly. In fact, I think going to therapy could help you to prevent that relationship from feeling more traumatic and then affecting your next relationships as a result of never processing the breakup properly! It is NEVER fun to deal with dating someone who is still hung up on their ex or unresolved baggage tied with that ex.

Think of going through a breakup like grief.

I know grief pretty well because I deal with those feelings often when I think of the sudden loss of my dad. Now to compare a breakup to that extent is probably not supposed to be comparable, but for some, breakups can be as devastating as physically losing someone. You also lose the relationship in other ways: emotionally or financially. Whether you have experienced grief before or not, the sooner you accept a breakup like the way you would handle grief, the more equipped you can be in handling loss. I will mention a few points below of how a breakup can be handled as grief, because processing both grief and breakups can be very similar.

Remember your values and where your priorities should be placed at.

I believe when we identify what we value out of life and also who we should value, it will help shuffle what we can prioritize in our heads and hearts. When we were in our relationships, we prioritized those like crazy. We put them first in almost everything and that won’t instantly stop just the moment the relationship ends, not at all. It becomes almost like a habit and a pattern because withdrawing from a relationship is like a drug addict withdrawing from drugs.

Where we place our priorities determines our grieving process. For example, if we no longer value a committed relationship, our priorities can shift to value work or family or friends over the loss. You might even start to think about prioritizing some of the hobbies you left undone or untouched, if not for the people you need to reconnect with or if not for making work more of the focus in life. Of course in life, we need to balance a lot and everything, but realistically, we can’t balance more than 3 things to equally take up our time. So pick and choose your battles. After a relationship ends, it will become non-existent to prioritize and you will restructure your routines.

Feel all your feelings!

You will feel multiple types of feelings throughout a breakup and it will almost become unbearable and so confusing. It may be so easy to choose ways to avoid or distract what you’re truly feeling, but please don’t. Sit with your feelings, cry with your feelings, be one with your own thoughts, and share your feelings. 

Allow yourself to have a range of emotions, because I know when you face them, you will make it easier to process what has happened and how you should react from your breakup. You will go from loving and missing that person, to having anger towards them, to wishing you never met them, to remembering the first time you met them, to remembering their kisses and hugs and touches, and to letting yourself let them go. It will be a journey of ping-ponging between all of them, but the intensity of those feelings WILL die down. The sooner you can process all of those types of feelings, the more prepared you will be in feeling healed from this breakup.

This may be the hardest part of your recovery journey though. You will probably feel hopeless and feel like you’ll never come out of this okay, but things will always get worst and harder before they get better. You will eventually get tired of the same narrative you keep repeating being on that page.

Don’t blame yourself. Breakups are almost always caused by both parties.

In my journal, I wrote there would be 3 stages of forgiveness towards the relationship for my ex and I: forgive myself and not blame me, forgive him and not blame him, and forgive what happened and feel thankful for what happened. It’s a bit more elaborate than those, but those are the main principles of what I wrote.

I know how easy it is to go back and forth or ruminating over what you did wrong and what you could’ve done better or believe the hurtful words that your ex exchanged during the breakup, but please don’t invest in that energy for long.

Most breakups aren’t caused by only one person (and the only exception I can think of that is, is when it’s cheating involved), but two people/both parties contribute to the ending of a relationship. Don’t think you’re a burden or whatever if you’re sitting on the side of being a dumpee and not the dumper. The dumper has their own issues they added too.

You do not have to distract yourself, it’s better to stay where you are.

You will probably run across so many friends and family members who will give you advice to go out and meet new dating prospects, but that is not great advice, even if they are coming from a place of good intention. You will essentially avoid your feelings if you jump too quickly into meeting someone for the purpose of finding someone new to date. Distracting yourself like that and in other ways like getting lost for hours in watching a TV series or video games or having to fill in every hour of your day with something is NOT productive and beats the purpose of trying to recover.

Now, there is a difference in trying to go and do things you love which I’ll get into that later, and you may love doing those things, but the difference is your intention towards doing those things.

You really do not have to do anything anyone advises. Use your agency to the best of your judgment of what to do for yourself to heal. Also, you will probably hear “You will find someone better” more than 10 times from various people and you will probably feel sadder hearing that when it’s so early on in your breakup. Yes, anyone can find someone better but that kind of encouragement is not necessary at this time nor did you ask to hear that or state that you want to find someone better. Some things can be noise during these times.

Talk to so many different people.

I know vulnerability is hard to do after you’ve found yourself so vulnerable with your ex already, but what if I told you that if you expose yourself to the same vulnerability you gave your ex to others that you will feel connection all over again? Only thing is it won’t be with your ex but with others, but that’s okay because you’re building up new memories that will rewire your brain to lessen the trauma. So yes, go and make new friends. I found myself closer to my girlfriends when I poured my heart out on this matter and found out they had similar feelings at the time or in the past. It’s great to feel heard and validated, even if you’re not looking for validation.

You got hurt. You deserve to make peace with your heart after this. You should talk to so many different people to hear what they have to say and hear their stories. Meanwhile, make many new connections as much as you can and create new friendships. Some of my best friendships came from the darkest times like these! I also joined a support group (mainly for the mental health struggles I was facing in general) and they have been supportive to be in.

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You will go through up-and-down emotions, even when you’re healing better. So, go no contact to not re-trigger yourself.

You might feel like you’re healing well and that you’re completely over your ex and all the situations tied to it, but some days your emotions will hit you like a freight train. This is normal because it means your relationship impacted you a lot. Healing won’t feel like you’re 100% pain-free and everything is technicolor, but you will eventually remove those rose-tinted glasses and break through with this feeling of being calmer than you ever were when you give yourself space from your ex. So, no contact is important to keeping it together and gaining clarity.

Go away and travel if you can.

I know not everyone can just book themselves a flight out of state, but you always have the option to surround yourself in new environments, for even a bit. You can take a staycation in your state. The reason why I loved making a travel blog was to motivate myself to explore as much as I could and to rewire my brain through new experiences. Traveling is one of the best things to do after a breakup, whether it’s solo or shared with friends and family.

I actually was home only 3 weeks of the 2 months I was away from my home during this time of healing from my breakup. I traveled and stayed in several places (3 countries, 3 states) and nothing made me reconnect with whom I was before my relationship than choosing this experience for myself. I felt renewed every time I got back home.

Get closer to your loved ones and DO spend time with your family.

I mentioned it a few times, but reconnect with your loved ones that you lost contact with or got distant while you were in your relationship. No one will hate you for having been distracted with your relationship because let’s be honest, we cannot balance every relationship we want to in life. Now that you’re single, you have more time than you realize. Remember when I said to talk to so many different people? This is part of doing that. Your family is the people in your life who accepts you for you and wants the best for you, so give them the time to be there for you as you for them.

Do some act of service for others.

One of the quicker ways to heal your heart is serving others. The heartbreak journey is about you, but take a moment to not make it about you. You will find joy in knowing you are capable of so much more than you realize that your breakup may have made you question yourself. Go volunteer. Go help someone who needs your type of skills or knowledge. Don’t expect anything in return. After all, when you were in that relationship, there were so many expectations, so do it differently this time. 

For example, I volunteered my time to help my mom move into her new home so it required me to be away from home, but I felt accomplished and I felt good I could make someone’s life easier. It’s a great feeling, and recovering from heartbreak means creating new feelings.

Write letters in your journal.

In my journal, I wrote letters to God and to my ex (that I never sent). No matter who you choose to write a letter to, writing down your thoughts and expressing them is a great way to process your emotions. Think of your journal as a breakup buddy! When you can’t find someone to call at that moment, your pen and journal are something to get your feelings out now.

Give yourself more credit. Remember your worth and what you’ll have to offer someone else who you can find happiness with.

Your self-esteem and self-worth have been severely severed, most likely. You can give yourself words of affirmation but what’s most important is to remember to tell yourself you did what you can in that relationship. Give yourself credit for having been a good partner in the best way you knew possible! You most likely tried to fight for it and hey, that means you were willing to put the work in. Some people forget to fight the problem and not the other person, but you probably are ahead of the game and know that already.

If your ex didn’t want to work at it the way you were willing, know you deserve much more. In this process of recovery, you will re-recognize your worth. You have so much to offer on the table and if one person couldn’t see or want that, then it’s a key sign you should consider moving on to someone else who would appreciate those and want to be around those qualities you deem. You deserve not only peace in your heart but happiness with a partnership that is equal and is willing to fight for the relationship to show you how much you mean to them.

Romanticize the heck out of your life and get involved with things you can fall in love with doing.

You do not need to have a partner to feel romantic in your life. You can feel romanticized by several other sources and happenings in your life. You can set up dates with friends and still feel equally fulfilled. Find love for all that you are doing, accomplishing, creating, and pursuing (other than a romantic partner). You may find that through hobbies or setting personal goals with several milestones, for example, trying to get more fit or lose weight. A hobby I fell in love with the process of is watercolor painting and I love seeing what I come up with! Remember, as I mentioned before: create new memories to rewire your (sad) brain.

Get rid of any reminders.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is true. You may start with just deleting photos of your ex and you from your phone album and not feel ready for ALL of the photos, so you might decide to stock them away in a cloud folder where you won’t open them. I did do that, however, I eventually deleted that folder of 472 photos and videos of us months later lol. I felt indifferent when I saw the photos vs. my initial reaction where I felt so sad and missed my ex’s presence when I looked at them. You may find yourself doing the same eventually and even donating some of their gifted items. I mean, why hold onto things that would just trigger you? Why hold space for things when that person didn’t hold space for you anyway? 

If this also means unfollowing or unfriending their family members or anyone super close to them, do it for your peace. You don’t want to be surprised to see something about your ex when they appear in your timeline from a mutual social media friend. Also, please try and refrain as much as possible from not talking to them about the issues – keep your thoughts private to yourself and to those closer to you. Some people are not on your side as they are with your ex, which is so unfortunate that happens.

Radical acceptance.

I learned this concept in my DBT support group and it has been one of the most life-changing concepts for me, which is more simple than it sounds. Radical acceptance is to help you from not suffering anymore. It is the invitation to acknowledge and honor difficult situations and emotions and have full acceptance of them without the need to disrupt that acceptance. It is basically coming in full circle with the situation and with yourself. For breakups, it is about accepting that the relationship is over. The sooner you can accept it is over and there is no more wishful thinking around it or hoping, the better you will recover from your breakup. So, I left this as the last point to recover from your breakup because it is the point of clarity that anyone will be thankful for.

I hope these were helpful points to help you recover from your breakup! I know how difficult and emotionally draining it is to have someone you love walk away or you walking away from them. It is the catalyst for a lot of things in my life. 

No breakup is worth overseeing our worth or value in this life. I promise that things will get better, even if it seems like they aren’t getting better. You may have been through other breakups in the past too, but every breakup will feel different for each of us so don’t put expectations that you can heal like the past ones. Honor the relationship you had with that specific person and take it with you to prepare for the next one. And the next one I hope will show you why every detour in your journey was worth it.

If there is anything that helped you in recovering from a breakup, please share it with me below in the comments.

Tell me what you thought below!