How To Combat Breakup Sadness So It Doesn’t Swallow You Whole

After ending a relationship, feelings of sadness are magnified and we tend to isolate ourselves. Self-care may go down the drain and we become a shell of the person we once were. There are ways to avoid this negative pattern of breakup sadness, though. Here are some healthy ways to combat these tough emotions, especially if you weren’t the one who did the dumping.

  1. Stop stalking your ex on social media. It may be tempting to constantly check your ex’s social media profiles to see what they’re up to, but it’s not healthy. It’ll remind you of them, and you’ll miss them even more. Although it may bring temporary relief, it makes moving on harder in the long run. So, delete your ex from social media. Block them if you’re still checking on them. You can do it!
  2. Talk to a therapist. After a breakup, there are usually a lot of feelings to unpack. You may be blaming yourself for why things went wrong or you may start looking at yourself with a critical lens. A therapist can help you to process what you’re feeling so that you can move on. They’ll help you to see that it may not have been anything intrinsically wrong with you, but that the other person just wasn’t interested in the same things or committed to a long-term relationship.
  3. Make a list of your ex’s flaws. We tend to view our exes in an ideal manner. This can make us sad because we may feel as though we’ve lost the perfect person. But, just like everyone else, they’re humans with flaws. It may be helpful to make a list of your ex’s flaws and annoying qualities. It can help you to see the incompatibilities in the relationship and may make you miss them less.
  4. Acknowledge your feelings. A breakup is often accompanied by a slew of negative feelings. Instead of denying your feelings, take time to acknowledge them and allow yourself to grieve. Remember that it’s okay to cry–it actually helps you to feel better in the long run. If you don’t process your emotions honestly, they’ll carry over to your next relationship or prevent you from entering a new relationship altogether.
  5. Be social. It may be tempting to spend all day in bed, away from the world. But, this isn’t a healthy response to a breakup. Instead, call your friends and family. You could even ask them to spend time with you face to face. Talking to supportive people about the breakup can be healing.
  6. Practice self-care. Self-care means ensuring that your basic needs are being met. You may not feel like eating after a breakup but do it anyway. Give yourself time to sleep, as well. Exercising can also make you feel better both physically and psychologically. Do things that will make you feel better. That could include trying a massage, going on a short trip or reading your favorite book.
  7. Explore new hobbies. If you were in a long-term relationship in which you did everything with your partner, you might experience a bit of an identity crisis when you break up. One way to battle this is by pursuing a new passion. Having a hobby won’t just make you feel better, it’ll also give you something else to do besides dwelling on your breakup.
  8. Find closure. Sometimes, your partner may break up with you without giving you a proper reason. This can make it hard to find closure. But, there are ways to find closure on your own. For example, you can try writing a letter to yourself or to your ex (don’t mail it, though). You can also remove all of the photos you have of your ex, or burn some tokens from your relationship in a ceremonial fashion.
  9. Avoid unhealthy coping strategies. There are ways of coping with a breakup. Some ways may do more harm than good. These include drinking excessively, doing drugs, overeating, self-harm, gambling excessively, or becoming a workaholic. You may be tempted to partake in these to avoid feelings of loneliness and pain, but there are healthier ways to cope.
  10. Start dating again. After a breakup, your confidence may be low. You may feel like isolating yourself for fear that another breakup will occur. But, it’s important to put yourself out there. Spending time with potential partners will also stop you from thinking about your ex all the time and will help you to see that there are other great options out there.
  11. Make a list of all the benefits of being single. After a breakup, you may feel lonely and miss having someone with whom to do things. But, there are many benefits to being single. It may help if you created a list of these benefits. Some items may include: having more time to spend with your family and friends, having more individual freedom, and being able to put your own needs first.

What the experts say about dealing with breakup sadness

  1. It’s not your fault it’s so hard to get over your ex. You might scold yourself for not being able to just pick yourself up and move on after a breakup rather than wallowing in sadness, but it’s really not your fault. As author and professor Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., it’s extra difficult because reminders of them are pretty much everywhere you look. “If you were living together or you worked out at the same gym—all of those things remind you of the past,” she explains.
  2. It doesn’t get any easier as you get older. You would think that once you have a better head on your shoulders and are more equipped to deal with the ups and downs of love, it would be easier to get over a breakup, but that’s not actually true. Jane Reardon, LMFT, founder of the app Rx Breakup explains: “For one thing, the pool of good potential partners shrinks as people pair off (and stay paired off) in their twenties and thirties.” Plus, she adds, the stakes tend to be higher the older you get. “Developmentally, most people aren’t ready for long-term commitment until their mid-to-late twenties, at which point there’s much more riding on having a successful relationship.” Ugh.
  3. You have to help yourself. It’s tempting to allow yourself to wallow in a pool of endless self-pity and sadness, but that’s not going to help you move on (obviously). Instead, you need to take steps in your own life to move on. One of the easiest ways to do this is to avoid triggers where possible that might remind you of your ex and set you off again. “If you went to Starbucks together, go to a different one,” Orbuch suggests. “If you took the 8 a.m. train, take the 7:45 a.m.”
Selena Singh-Russell is a freelance writer and former junior editor. She enjoys writing on a variety of topics, including health, travel and entertainment. She has been published on TheRichest, TheThings, Monsters & Critics, and in Chicken Soup for the Soul. When she isn't writing, you can catch her exploring new cities or baking.