Whether your marriage lasted three months, three or ten years, a break up is a breakup. Breakups can leave us heartbroken, crushed, confused, lonely and sometimes even physically ill. Who are we kidding, even if you were the one that wanted the divorce it still sucks and it will take time to get over it and move on. Although there is no magic formula that makes the healing process go faster, there are some coping techniques that are essential in order to get over your ex and move on with strength and grace.
- Feel your feelings Take time to mourn
Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, don’t fight your feelings. Fighting our feelings often makes them come back stronger and with a vengeance. This is the time where you can give yourself permission to be sad at times and mourn the death of your marriage. 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. Particularly in the early stages of a breakup, try let yourself feel what you feel, without judgment. That being said don’t allow it to consume you and take over your whole being. If you feel like crying, cry, let it all out. If you feel like screaming, by all means scream go to your bedroom take a pillow and let it all out. The healthiest way to deal with these feelings is to let them out and now allow them to consume you. Suppressing your emotions will only prolong your misery and cause anxiety in the long run. Trust your feelings but don’t stay stuck in them.
- Support system
You will have times that you will need to express your feelings and frustrations to someone. This is where a solid support group is essential. It is important that you have family, friends, and perhaps a professional such as a therapist or life coach in your team. Try and surround yourself with people who are focused to help you move forward with a positive mindset. Avoid bashing sessions, where you just get together to bash out your ex and all the terrible things he did to you. Yeah, I know sometimes it makes you feel better to just go on a rant, but honestly does it help you move ahead? Focus on surrounding yourself with positive people who will motivate you to move forward, and help you shift away from your anger and sadness into a happier, healthier place.
- Take care of your body
Revenge may be tempting and feel sweet, but it always comes with a price. You might feel like you want to go on a “breakup diet”, to get yourself looking great as a way of revenge on your ex. As good as it sounds it can easily become a way to punish yourself and reinforce feeling of rejection as well as potentially encourage you to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Instead of restricting calories, eat nourishing whole foods that are high in fiber, protein and nutrients to boost your mood and energy. A balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, greens and stress-busting superfoods can help counteract the physiological stress of the breakup. On the flip side try not to overdo foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt as they can actually contribute to higher levels of stress hormones.
- Get active
You might be really down and out, and the thought of even thinking of putting on your running shoes or going to a yoga class is literally draining in itself. Actually going? You are thinking to yourself, never going to happen. Here is why you should really really push yourself and go get active with something you enjoy. Getting your endorphins pumping is a fantastic way to lower your stress levels, improve cognitive functioning and boost your mood. Even if exercising is the last thing you want to do, the act of focusing your awareness on your body is extremely healthy and helpful in distracting you from your worries. That being said do not over-exercise. Just like overeating, exercise can become a compulsive behavior. Get active in ways that are enjoyable and feel rewarding. If you can do it with a friend, even better. Working out with a good partner is always fun.
- Remind yourself of all the great things in your life
A painful loss can be so overwhelming that it clouds your thinking so that it’s almost impossible for you to look past the immediate feelings of pain and loss. You might be so focused on the pain and the negative aspects of the breakup that you are having trouble even remembering anything at all that is positive in your life. When my daughter was little we used to list five positive things we are grateful for every day at dinner time. This exercise was a great way for us to focus on the positive things in our lives which inspired us to be more grateful and boosted our moods. Try and think of positive things every day, perhaps start a little GRATITUDE journal. It’s a great way to inspire yourself.
- Do things you love again
When we come out a relationship we often forget who we really are and what we get excited about. Think about the things you used to love doing, get out and do them. Treat yourself to something that makes you feel good, whether it’s a massage or getting yourself a good book. Just do it! Pick up hobbies you gave up long ago. Perhaps you enjoyed gardening, or sewing or painting. It doesn’t matter what you loved doing, now is the time to pick it up again and get in touch with yourself.
I know, I am sure you have days where you really are not in the mood of talking to anyone or seeing anyone. It is perfectly normal for you to feel like you want to be alone now, but too much alone-time isn’t good for you. It can lead to depression and make this healing process a lot more painful and prolonged. Go visit some friends, or relatives. Invite a friend out to a movie or for a walk in the park. It is important that you find ways to distract yourself and discover new places, make new friends, and do things that can help you heal mentally and emotionally. Remember to balance the mourning part with making sure to look forward and move ahead.
- Take time for yourself
It is not a contradiction to tip number 8. It is ok for you to be alone sometimes, as long as you are not running away from everything and everyone. The key is not to jump into a new relationship too fast. Don’t just start dating to numb your pain. It will just mask things, but not make them better in long run and definitely not help you heal or gain clarity. Instead take time every day to do something for just YOU. It doesn’t matter how long it’s for, as long as you make yourself a priority every day and take those few minutes to do what you enjoy doing.
Reflections are inevitable, and in many ways can be really soothing for your soul. Try and remove reminders, such as pictures of you and your ex or little gifts that have sentimental value. Pack them away, or give them away, but don’t torture yourself for having your memories. Memories are part of life, and I am sure part of them are even nice to have at times. However instead of focusing on the memories that trigger you emotionally, reflect on who you are and get back in touch with yourself. Take the lessons you learned from this relationship with you, but make sure to focus on what you want moving forward. Think about the life and future you want to create for yourself. Envision it, see yourself clearly. Make it all about you and leave the partner out of it for now. It will come in due time.
- Limit contact
Limit the contact you have with your ex after your divorce or separation. Avoid discussing anything that isn’t imperative. One of my clients who has been separated for a few months, finally got her divorce. She seemed relieved and glad it was over. However, two weeks after her divorce she told me during our session “I find myself wanting to reach out to him and share what is going on in my life with him”. Although this might be normal to feel and want it is really unhealthy and will just keep you stuck. If you have children and need to talk to your ex, keep it short and pleasant and don’t get personal. It might be hard at times, but it is NOT impossible.
This is the hardest time of this process. Once you get through the first few months after separation or divorce things will get easier. This is a life changing step, but you will get through it.
Keep focused on the light at the end of the tunnel instead of the darkness that you are feeling right now. Remember what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies WITHIN us!
Don’t hesitate to reach out for support and get a PRIVATE (and free) consultation session with me.
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