Breaking up, separating, and divorcing are among the more stressful life transitions you may experience in your life.  This kind of change is often accompanied by complicated feelings of rejection, loss, confusion, sadness, and fear.  Some breakups stir up relief as well, which may also feel confusing.  What’s the best way to go about healing after a break-up?

While most would agree the ending of a significant relationship is a loss, it is also an opportunity for deep reflection and growth.  However, in order to be able to examine what happened and what this means for you, it’s important to have an understanding of potential pitfalls and healthy ways of coping.

The First Step to Healing: Recognizing Breaking up is a Loss

It’s important to recognize the loss of a relationship takes time to process and heal from.   Since breaking up is often an uncomfortable and even painful experience for us, it can be difficult to be realistic about the timeline healing may take.  This can be especially true if you still have feelings for the person.  Give yourself the space and time needed to heal.  You may be in a hurry to feel better, but setting realistic expectations around how long it may take for you to move through this experience will help you in the long-run.

Breaking up May Effect You Physically, Emotionally, and Mentally

Physically speaking, you may have trouble eating and sleeping after your relationship ends.  This can happen because our brain may register the break-up as a cause for raising our internal alarm.  When this part of our nervous system is activated, it can lead to a disruption in our digestion and resting systems.  While this is a normal response soon after a breakup, as time goes on, this should improve.  In the meantime, be sure to eat nutritiously and get enough sleep and rest.  Keep a routine around food and sleep to support your body.

Emotions after a breakup can feel intense.  So can your thoughts about the relationship.  Often these two can go hand-in-hand.  For example, a common thought after a breakup is believing you may never find “the one” and this can lead to feelings of fear and loneliness.  One way to manage the intensity is to notice your thoughts and emotions while recognizing them for what they are: thoughts and emotions which are not permanent, and not necessarily based in reality.  Try to remember when you’re going through a breakup, it’s difficult to take in the whole picture until you have some space from it to take perspective.  With more distance from the relationship, you may have new realizations.

On and Off Relationships Can Be Difficult to End

Are you in a relationship that hasn’t really ended, but doesn’t feel entirely solid either?  The on and off again relationship can be confusing.  You may ask yourself: What’s keeping you in the relationship? Sometimes we remain in a relationship because it’s comfortable.  Other times, it may be difficult for us to end a relationship that isn’t working because we fear the unknown.  It’s also possible that you and your partner may benefit from support from a couples therapist to explore these questions productively and learn ways to work through it together.

Hold Off on New Romances

Avoid jumping into a new relationship right away.  While it can be tempting to begin dating again in an effort to “get out there”, in reality, you may be doing so in order to manage feelings of loneliness, grief, rejection, and sadness rather than in an emotionally healthy place to meet someone new.  Recognize when external pressures and expectations for “moving on” are at play for you as well.

There May Not Be a Satisfying Answer to What Caused the Break-up

Many of us want to know why the relationship ended.  We crave a logical explanation so that we can avoid repeating mistakes.  The truth is relationships are complex, and more than one “thing” leads to the ending of them.  While some reflection of what happened and how can be beneficial, avoid going back over the past repeatedly.  Dwelling on the past can aggravate the pain of a breakup.

A Breakup Can Lead to Opportunities to Learn and Grow

With realistic expectations for the healing process and intentional self-care, breaking up can be an experience that leads to tremendous potential for self-growth.  Consider the positives of the relationship, but also learn from the negatives.  Do some deep reflection inside and avoid focusing only on what your partner did or didn’t do.  Be willing to recognize your deal breakers, recognize what you’re not willing to put up with in a partner, and recognize what brings out the best in you in a relationship.

Therapy Can Help You Find Your Way Forward Through a Life Transition Such as a Break-up, Separation, or Divorce

When you experience the ending of a significant relationship, it can often kick up intense feelings, thoughts, and even behaviors.  Therapy can be a safe and productive way of sorting through the  upheaval you may experience with a break-up, while reflecting and learning about yourself in profound ways.  At Vitality Therapeutic Services, we specialize in working with life transitions.  We also provide services to couples exploring commitment as well as online therapy.  If you’re ready to make the most of the change in your life, contact us today to get started.

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