Going through a breakup can be devastating, disorienting, and isolating. The experience of splitting from a partner can make you feel super alone, but it could help to remind yourself that there are tons of people going through something similar. There are also numerous different philosophies on getting over breakups, but the truth is there is no right way to heal from a breakup. If you’re looking for some helpful reassurances and guidance when it comes to healing a broken heart, getting breakup advice from therapists can be super helpful.
"One of the best ways to handle heartbreak is to really allow yourself to go through and experience the pain of the loss," says Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Licensed Psychologist & Founder of Therapy for Black Girls, "The truth is that when we try to take shortcuts and skip through the grieving process, it can prolong our heartbreak." Bradford’s really shines a light on the fact that it’s OK to be upset and devastated by a breakup. Sometimes, when people seek help with healing from a breakup, the goal can be to make the pain of the loss subside. Though it’s only human to find ways to ease your pain, keep in mind that this is the natural procession of grieving the loss of something that was important to you. If you found Harden’s advice reassuring, check out what some other therapists had to say.
Consider the science.
"Heartbreak actually affects your dopamine levels, which is why you might, feel anxious, stressed out, and/or crave to see seeing the person," says sex therapist Carolanne Marcantonio, LMSW. She explains that your dopamine level decreases as the love you once had dissolves or the breakup occurs. It’s confusing because you might crave a person who is actually bad for you, but knowing that it’s partially the fault of chemicals in your brain could be helpful.
"The craving isn’t a magical sign you should be together it’s just your dopamine levels adjusting," she says, "Knowing this can save you a lot of heartache. It can arm you with the information you need so you don’t text the person because the feeling can be very compelling." Since post-breakup brain chemistry can be really challenging, consider taking up activities that divert your attention even for short amounts of time. This could help keep you from fixating on your desire to reach out to your ex.
When in doubt, write it out.
Marcantonio also recommends that you write down what you want to say to the person you’re missing. Continue to write whatever comes to mind, but don’t send it, she recommends. "Give yourself two days and then reread the letter," she says. "Usually what you wrote doesn’t feel as pressing as it did when you were really upset, or you may discover more about how you feel."
Consider how it’s impacting your body, and treat yourself accordingly.
"Sometimes I ask clients to choose some descriptive words for what they’re feeling and how these feelings manifest in the body," says according to Anne Beverly, counselor in residence at Bluebird Counseling Center. "If they are feeling achy, I might recommend they get a massage. Massage therapy can be a good tool for someone who will be transitioning from touching their partner all the time to living without a lot of physical touch."
Find something that you enjoy, and learn more about it.
"Distraction is also effective in helping clients to heal," says Beverly. "I’ve had clients throw themselves into learning the guitar, painting, or learning a language. Doing something novel activates new and different parts of the brain, plus it’s a chance to be creative or even meet new people."
It could be healing to find something that you love doing that has no connection to your former partner. Having an activity that is not only distracting but also has no connection to your former partner could really help soothe your heartache.
Get to know yourself better.
"There is always something new to learn and grow from when you go through something like a breakup," says Molly Lyda, MA, life coach, MFT, LPCC. Recovering from heartbreak really does make you stronger because you are forced to look at the reasons you’re hurting and the reasons you love yourself.
"Breakups are an opportunity to love and advocate for yourself in ways you may have never done before. That alone has a powerful effect on your sense of self," says Lyda. She recommends to be tender with yourself, and have patience regarding how you’re healing.
Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow.
"I think that it’s really important to unfollow and unfriend your ex across social media platforms," says Bradford. She thinks this is vital to your healing because a lot of the time, if you have access to an ex’s social media, it becomes easy to build a narrative for how they are doing. "Usually these narratives are incomplete at best and most often inaccurate. You can’t focus on what you need to do to take care of yourself if you are still trying to see how your ex is spending their days via a social media highlight reel," she says. If you’re not entirely ready to unfriend or unfollow your ex, consider starting by muting your ex’s social media so it doesn’t appear in your feed when you’re not expecting it.
Believe in yourself.
"So you’ve had the air knocked out of you, and your heart is on the mend, so you’re unsure of what comes next. Let me tell you. You’re going to overcome," says Kevon Owen, M.S., LP clinical psychotherapist and counselor. "Remember who you are, remember that you’re worthy of love and there is more extraordinary love to experience when you’re ready to."
So many times we submerge ourselves in our identity in a relationship that we forget who we are as individuals, says Owen. It can be an amazing thing to get to know yourself after something that unexpectedly knocked you down.
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