How to cope with a breakup

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A good friend of mine is currently dealing with a hard breakup. I’ve tried to comfort her, but it’s hard knowing the right things to say and at what times. It’s good to vent to a friend, but it’s even more important that you know how to take care of yourself. So in this post I will give some tips to those dealing with a breakup, from how to cope to how to move on.

Ending a relationship has very real effects on the mind and body: A 2010 Northwestern study found that breakups cloud our sense of self, and the more serious things were with your ex, the more of an identity crisis you’re likely to experience. So step one is to realize your ex doesn’t determine who you are, that’s completely up to you. You may have changed throughout the relationship, but who you are is completely your own.

You have to treat yourself after the breakup, whether you initiated it or not. While it’s true that time heals all emotional wounds, you can speed up the process of moving on by taking control over your health and well-being. Here are some ways I think could help speed up the healing:

  • Write or talk it out- After visiting with my friend and talking through her emotions, it was very obvious that she felt much better. Although suppressing unpleasant feelings is a natural impulse, avoiding your emotions will ultimately prevent you from moving past them. There are so many emotions involved in a breakup- anger, sadness, loneliness, feelings of rejection and uncertainty about the future — and it’s essential to confront them head-on.
  • Take care of your body- Going on a “breakup diet” may sound like a good idea- possibly looking our best as a way to get revenge on an ex- but it can easily become a way to punish yourself, reinforcing feelings of rejection. (Not to mention encouraging you to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.) Instead, look for foods that nourish your body and brain. A balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, greens and stress-busting superfoods can help counteract the stress of a breakup.
  • Get active- Getting your endorphins pumping through cardio exercise is often prescribed as a way to get over a breakup, and for good reason: Going for a run or hitting the elliptical can lower your stress levels, improve cognitive functioning and boost your mood- in addition to providing a healthy distraction from your worries. It’s good to get your mind of the breakup and focus on something positive.
  • Do things YOU love- After a bad breakup, it’s hard to get excited about the things you loved pre-split- but the only way to start enjoying yourself again is to force yourself to get out and do them anyway. Hang out with your best friends, go to your favorite restaurant, do things that make you happy.
  • Change it up- Post-breakup haircuts are commonly known, and a little cliche, but it sounds like a great idea to me. If you’re looking for a fresh start, why not get a new haircut? Maybe even go get some new clothes. Another way you can change it up is to try something new, and meet new people. Some ideas might be to join an art class, a fitness class, or even find a new hobby.
  • Give back- Performing acts of kindness towards others has been shown to improve well-being and help relieve depression. Volunteering at a local soup kitchen or Boys and Girls club can take your mind of the breakup and focus on the positive impact you can make.
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