Getting over a breakup: How I did it in 7 days
I was always the friend in my social group that didn’t date so much, so I saw breakups happening around me and I never really got why my friends were so upset. That was until it happened to me. I can now relate – it hurts like nothing else I have ever experienced and it quickly takes over your entire life temporarily. It hurts even more if it ended suddenly, especially when you’re not expecting it.
When it happened to me, I looked at the options the media promotes through movies and decided that eating a load of ice cream and drinking alcohol probably wasn’t the best way forward for me. Over time, I’ve developed different ways of tackling stress and so I decided to put them into action to see if it could help me get over my breakup in a faster, healthier way. And it did. Here’s what I did:
1.) Understand the cycle
A psychiatrist called Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed a model used to forecast the typical emotions somebody goes through when they are exposed to sudden loss. The Kübler-Ross model, as it is aptly named is usually used to guide somebody through grief after the death of a loved one, but it can also work for breakups too. Knowing the cycle of emotions is a powerful thing because it assures you that you are normal and that your behaviours and attitudes are going to change. The behaviours follow:
- Denial: the first stage can lead to confusion as you struggle to accept that the breakup has actually happened, it will take a while to settle in and to feel like reality.
- Anger: once you do accept that your relationship is no longer, you may feel anger towards your ex-partner for putting you through this, or may feel angry at yourself or the situation as a whole. At this point, it’s best to acknowledge that it is okay to be angry, but don’t stew on it for too long.
- Bargaining: we’ve all heard the term ‘never text the ex’ and it couldn’t be more key at this point. Here is the period where you’ll feel like doing anything to get back together, you’re even willing to compromise on yourself and “change”. Knowing this in advance is powerful because you must resist the temptation. Most couples who get back together don’t last, so unless you did something wrong, please don’t try to change yourself.
- Depression: this is when you fully accept the reality of not getting back together and fully grieve the relationship. You may feel tempted to eat junk food and to be idle, but you must fight it. I’ll talk more about this later on.
- Acceptance: ahhhh, moving on. Give yourself time to fully accept that you are no longer a thing, don’t avoid it by getting with somebody else straight away. Allow the cycle to happen and you will reach acceptance and closure.
Knowing the cycle is really powerful. Everybody processes things at different times and so for some people, getting through the emotions can be quicker than others. There is no set time – everybody is different. Allowing yourself the time and space is vital in your recovery.
2.) Choose 2-3 people to talk to
Don’t bottle up how you’re feeling, it’s okay to be obsessed with it for a few days but don’t let it take over your life in the long-term. Finding a few key people who you can talk about it to is important. If you don’t feel like you can talk about it to them, consider writing a diary or documenting your progress. It’s good to just let your thoughts out, regardless of how daft they may seem at the time.
This was key to my recovery. My relationship ended suddenly and wasn’t even in person, so I didn’t receive the closure I needed. So I meditated – I got myself relaxed, focused on my breathing and visualised my ex-partner stood in a room. I approached them and hugged them for one final time (whilst crying hysterically through my closed eyes) and then gradually imagined them getting smaller and smaller until they vanished. It took me a few sessions to finally let go, and a lot of tears, but it was a really healthy way to let out the bottled emotions. There are loads of tutorials online if you’re new to meditation, but it can be really powerful and it helped me a lot.
4.) Cry and be sad
It’s okay to cry, in fact, it’s a really healthy, natural way to let out negative emotions. I found myself awake in the middle of the night doing the uncontrollable crying thing and it helped me a lot. It’s better to do this sooner rather than later. I’d also recommend making sure you’re in a safe space where you feel comfortable and like you’re not going to be interrupted. Allow yourself some time to feel down and upset about it all, just don’t let it go on for too long because then it can start to take over.
5.) Don’t rebound
I know how tempting it can be to message a previous partner or somebody you were going on dates with before you got with your ex, but don’t do it yet. Spend some time grieving the relationship and getting to know yourself again. Rebounding will only prolong the period and make it harder for you in the long-term.
6.) Exercise and eat well
This, along with meditation, is the most important piece of advice I can give to you. Your emotions are heavily influenced by your diet and levels of activity. I know you won’t feel like it at the time, but force yourself to eat healthily and to exercise. Cut out processed foods and refined sugars and reduce the meat in your diet. Get plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts and go for a run or swim once a day. Make sure you don’t slack and stay on it. Trust me, it will help you get through the process much faster and both your physical and mental health will benefit.
7.) Reduce face-stalking gradually
When you first split up, you’ll no doubt want to keep checking their social media. That’s okay, but try to reduce it each day. It may be a good idea to count how many times you’re looking at their Instagram and keep a record of it. Set yourself targets until you’re no longer looking at their social media. It’s up to you as to whether or not you remain friends on social media or not. For some people, it’s easier to process by deleting all digital footprints of the relationship and for others, it doesn’t make a difference. You have to do what is right for you.
8.) Think twice before contacting them
People will tell you to not contact your ex, but I disagree. I think sometimes it can be important to help you process what has happened, especially when you’re in the Denial or Depression stages. It’s probably not a good idea to contact them during the Bargaining stage as this can be dangerous. Limit the amount of contact you make and try not to establish an imbalance of power. For example, if you have some unanswered questions about the breakup, it is positive to ask if they will answer them for you, but if you’re feeling low and want to tell them you’ll change – don’t. If they aren’t receptive, respect that; everybody processes things in different ways and stop contacting them. If they don’t reply to your message, don’t send another until they do. Your objective here is not to get back together, it is to help you process the breakup in your own way.
9.) Finally, know that you’re not alone
I know it may feel like it, but you’re really not alone. This process will make you stronger and so many people are going through it right now. The cycle of emotions are perfectly normal and everybody processes things in different ways. Don’t let anybody make you feel like you shouldn’t cry or feel low about it, because that’s a healthy and natural response.
Breakups are hard and I hope that my first-hand experience will help you to overcome yours much faster than alternative methods of eating rubbish and avoiding the issue. You will be okay, I promise.
If you are having relationship issues or you’re struggling to move on after a breakup – you can speak to one of our mentors here.