Heartbreak hurts! Overcoming heartbreak hurts more. Sometimes gaining the perspective you need to move past your ex isn’t so simple. It can be so easy to want to ignore the pain, the hurt, to forget that part of your life as if it didn’t exist. Sometimes we make bad choices when our hearts are broken because it feels better to do something that feels good in the moment, rather than feel the hurt for one second longer.
However, clearing the hurt rather than shoving it down will help you grow into the person you’re meant to be so that you can find the partner meant for you. Here, we offer our three best tips that you can use right now for overcoming heartbreak in a healthy way.
Kimberly Marsh, NJ resident and recent warrior of heartbreak, recommends movement as a way to move past the pain of losing someone you love. Movement helps the body and the mind defer thoughts. Many studies, including this one from 2011, clearly show a correlation to exercise and depression. This recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research found that men and women who practiced silent meditation in conjunction with physical exercise had less ruminating, or reflective, thoughts that led to symptoms of depression. That means that being active can help clear out those repeating thoughts about what happened, and what could have been!
Going to the gym, taking a trip, or Kimberly’s favorite—dancing it off—are all great ways to incorporate exercise into your post-break up practice. This 2017 study on social contact found a very positive correlation between social interaction and reduced self-stigma and increased self-esteem. That means going out with friends is the perfect way to stop beating yourself up for the breakup and to feel better about yourself and life.
Another option, and a great way to dive that sad or angry energy into something positive is to finish up a project, like organizing something around the house, Kimberly said. If it’s a project that was on your ex’s “Honey Do” list, then you’re not only accomplishing something, but you’re removing a reminder of your past, while at the same time feeling empowered on your own. Bravo!
Write it out
Whether made on your phone, in a journal or with Post-It notes, a list can help you focus, stay anchored, and release. Here are some tips for making lists that can help you move forward. I’ve also included some options that have the same effect, but may work better for us non-list-lovers.
Remember the negatives
Whether in a journal or a list, writing down all the reasons you weren’t happy in your relationship can help anchor you in those moments of “why does it have to be this way!?” Kimberly found this also a powerful anchor and reminder of why not to break down and contact her ex. Sometimes, particularly in the throes of overcoming heartbreak, we can forget the reasons why the relationship wasn’t good for us in the first place. A list is a great reminder you can look back on whenever you’re feeling weak.
Kimberly made her list with Post-It notes, which is interesting, because in this 2016 study conducted in the UK, participants who had experienced a depressive episode were more interactive with questionnaires that utilized Post-Its. Perhaps it’s the pretty colors, or the adaptability of using a brightly colored note that can be moved, removed, or replaced at will. It lets our creative side lose during a time when we’re not at our best. It reminds us that this, too, shall pass.
Visualize the future. Reject the past.
By the same token, it can’t hurt to write out what you want in your next relationship. You may not be ready for another relationship just yet… heck, you probably can’t even stomach the thought of being with someone else… However, knowing what you want in a relationship can be truly empowering. Not only is it exciting to realize that person could be out there waiting for you, too… but the list will remind you of all the reasons you’re not with your ex anymore.
This recent study published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice found that mindfulness practices, such as visualization, has a huge impact on those suffering from mental illness. After all, overcoming heartbreak doesn’t feel a whole lot different than a mental breakdown at times. Creating a list reminding you of what wasn’t working is a great way to stay present (rather than pining over what was lost).
Writing isn’t your thing? Create a visual image of what your perfect partner would look like from the inside out. Visualization has also repeatedly been found to help people overcome physical illness… which is something else heartbreak often emulates, especially when your whole body aches for your lost love.
Tips for visualizing or listing it out
Here are some things you can think about as you create your list or mental image:
- What would s/he want from life?
- How does s/he act around friends, around you?
- How does s/he treat you?
- What are his/her passions, how does s/he compliment you and help you grow?
- What does s/he do with spare time?
- Does s/he have any philosophical/political/spiritual beliefs or practices that are important to you?
Include those qualities you loved about your relationship with your ex. However, make it clear you don’t want the ones that caused the breakup in the first place. The best way to do this is to look at them in the positive perspective. If you hated that your ex was incredibly messy, then envision someone who is neat. If you hated that your ex yelled when he was angry, envision someone who waits for his/her emotions to subside and then speaks calmly about what is bothering him/her.
Know what you seek. Not only that, but remind yourself that you want more and that you can find it!
Divert the energy. Clear old wounds
The thing about pain is that it has this amazing ability to heal. Whether sadness, anger or desolation, our most powerful emotions are usually the ones that don’t feel good. Yet, these emotions can be diverted into other areas of their life. Here they can help us grow, clear old blocks, and heal old wounds.
Some of my greatest works of writing and art have happened when I was at my saddest. Some of my best physical projects have been completed through anger. Maybe you’re simply exhausted from the relationship, or the aftermath of the breakup. Then, allow the sadness to let you sleep it off (just don’t spend days in bed!).
As shown in this Chinese study, redirecting feelings (both positive and negative ones) into building a brighter future have an important role in overcoming severe grief.
Heal the heartbreak: Heal the past
Sometimes those heavy emotions bring up old issues with ourselves or with our past that are now screaming in our face. Don’t ignore them! Use this as an opportunity to move past those old wounds once and for all. Recognize that this person came into your life for a reason, and that reason might very well be to help you resolve past pain. If this pain is mimicking that old pain, don’t be afraid of it. Revel in the opportunity to heal that old hurt once and for all so that you don’t relive the patterns it caused.
Use that old-stuff-rising as an opportunity to clear it out. Then you can move beyond your lost love and the past at the same time.
Being heartbroken (especially when everyone around you is reveling in the season and feeling of love) isn’t easy. At all. However, remember that you are strong and you are loved. Better things are coming!
Want more tips for overcoming heartbreak, depression or loss? A Discovery Consult with Danielle Rose can get you in touch with the right tools to move on in the right time frame for you, and to move up and out into the world and a better life ahead.