How to Feel Better After a Breakup (2023)

We've all been there at one point in our lives—those awful days following the demise of a relationship when all you want to do is climb in bed and pull the covers over your head. After all, breakups are never easy regardless of whether you got dumped or you did the dumping.

"Breakups are challenging. They can signify a change in roles and routine, and even cause one to question their values of who they are," explains Evita Limon-Rocha, MD, a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente in Riverside, California. "Acknowledging your feelings and normalizing the variety of emotions experienced in this process is key in allowing yourself to heal."

If you're like many people, however, you probably don't deal with breakups in the healthiest of ways. Maybe you resort to drowning your sorrows with food or drinks. Or, maybe you can't stop blaming yourself for everything that went wrong. Whatever your current coping mechanisms, you're probably wondering if there is a better way to get through this heartache.

To help you put the past behind you and move on, we have compiled a list of eight things you can do right now to feel better and help mend your broken heart. So, don't waste another second wallowing in the past, and take steps to feel better right now.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

While it's only natural to want to feel better, you don't want to stuff your feelings or deny they even exist. Part of the healing process is acknowledging how you feel and allowing yourself to grieve.

"It’s important to acknowledge your feelings of distress and grief after a breakup because it is a significant loss," explains Erin Pash LMFT, CEO of Ellie Mental Health. "We don’t talk enough about losses that aren’t death. Ambiguous loss, like a breakup, is a loss that can often leave us searching for answers if we don’t take the time to work through the complicated emotions of ending a relationship."

This process is essential if you are coming out of a long-term relationship. Even if the relationship was fraught with issues, you might still feel like a part of you is missing.

  • Allow yourself the time and the space to cry: Believe it or not, crying provides a release that will actually improve your mood and help you feel better in the long run. "It’s also ok to just sit in your feelings and let yourself feel bad. Letting yourself have feelings is healthy even if other people might not see it that way. Crying, wallowing, and acknowledging pain is sometimes the best medicine," Pash notes.
  • Avoid getting stuck: Healing after a breakup takes time, but it is important not to get mired down in this stage of the healing process. You need to allow yourself some time to process what happened. Remember that this process looks different for each individual. "There is no linear path in the face of grief, such as in the loss of a relationship and this journey to healing can be highly variable," Dr. Limon-Rocha explains.
  • Talk to a professional: This is not to say that a pang of sadness will not surprise you here and there, but crying for days and days can be counterproductive to the healing process. If you find that you can't stop crying or that you are crying for no apparent reason, you should talk to your doctor or a counselor.

Not taking the time to acknowledge your feelings and heal can create further problems. Sometimes, a traumatic breakup can trigger depression in some people or reignite a mental health issue.

Erin Pash LMFT, CEO of Ellie Mental Health

If you don’t take some time to heal, depending on how big the wound is, it can bleed into your future relationships in unhealthy ways.

— Erin Pash LMFT, CEO of Ellie Mental Health

An Overview of Breakup Depression

Remove Reminders of Your Ex

When getting over a breakup, one of the first things you need to do is purge your house or apartment of all reminders of your ex.

"Sometimes people need to cut that person off for a period of time in order to heal. This might look like putting up firm boundaries, removing them from your social media, and making it clear to friends and family that you don’t want to talk about them until you’re ready to talk about it," Pash notes.

Get Rid of or Store Physical Reminders

It is difficult to move on and heal from a breakup if you still have your ex's picture on the nightstand or if you sleep in their old sweatshirt. It can be helpful to remove reminders of them from your home.

Of course, this doesn't mean you have to burn their belongings, throw their stuff into the street, or sell everything they gave you, but you should at least box these items up.

Return anything that belongs to them if you want, or donate it to charity. The choice is yours.

But recognize that having reminders of your ex that are easily accessible is going to impede your progress. So, do yourself a favor and at the very least put it in storage.

Get Rid of Social Media and Digital Reminders

While you're at it, you also should remove your ex from your social media accounts. Even though you may be curious about what they're up to, receiving constant reminders through photos and posts will keep you stuck in the past. It also can be painful too if you see your ex with a new partner.

So, as hard as it may be to do, unfriend and unfollow your ex as soon as possible. You may even want to block them from seeing your posts and updates. The fewer connections you have to one another the easier it will be to move on.

Find Closure

Sometimes cutting off all contact is not enough to help you move on. Sometimes, you need what people often refer to as closure. The key is that you find closure for the relationship in a healthy way.

In other words, having coffee together to talk or getting together as friends, even under the guise of finding closure, is unhealthy. It keeps you tethered to your ex, but in an unhealthy way.

Erin Pash LMFT, CEO of Ellie Mental Health

Closure can be anything from talking through your feelings to working through grounding skills that can ease some of the pain and provide growth and comfort.

— Erin Pash LMFT, CEO of Ellie Mental Health

One way to find closure is to write a letter to your ex saying everything you didn't get a chance to say. Just don't mail it or send it to them. It is the process of pouring out your feelings onto paper that helps you bring closure to the relationship—not sending it to them and hoping they will read it and feel a certain way.

Plus, if you end up sending an emotional letter, you may end up regretting it later. There also is the chance that you will spend too much time wondering if they read the letter, what they thought about it, and if they will respond. Instead, write the letter more for yourself.

If you feel you need to share it with someone, consider having a trusted friend or your counselor read it.

According to Pamela Garber, LMHC, finding closure is sometimes about reminding yourself what you took away from the relationship, even though it didn't ultimately didn't work out. " A relationship can still be a gain, an enrichment to one's life, even if it had a shelf life. Healing may be helped by recognizing that time was not wasted," she notes.

7 Things to Do if You Feel Emotional

Make a List of Your Ex's Faults

Too many times after a breakup, people dwell on all the things they will miss about their ex. Instead of remembering them as they truly were, they see only the good qualities—the things that they are really going to miss

Dwelling on what you'll miss can be counterproductive to your healing. After all, if you want to move on, you need to remind yourself why the two of you are not a good fit. Take some time and write down everything that bothers you about your ex. Include big things and little things.

For instance, if your ex struggled with infidelity, or wasn't interested in discussing the future, remind yourself of those things and why it would have never worked anyway.

You can also include little pet peeves like having bad table manners or being a slob. This exercise will help you keep things in perspective as well as serve as a reminder as to why it's better that you're not together.

Take Care of Yourself

The key to feeling better after a breakup is rooted in caring for yourself. In other words, ensure you're eating right, exercising regularly, showering consistently, and getting plenty of sleep.

"Redefining your own sense of self and focusing on your independence by reigniting things that are unique and important to you is also comforting," Pash explains.

It also may help to pamper yourself a little bit, too. Consider getting a massage, a facial, or a manicure, especially if you think it will boost your spirits.

Hold off on making drastic changes, however. What might seem like a good idea today may be something you regret when you're not feeling as emotional. Instead, focus on things that will make you feel better without doing anything irreversible or permanent.

"I would usually recommend finding some rituals that help people feel in a state of safety and calm when they are emotionally overwhelmed. These are usually good habits like deep breathing, going for a run, calling friends, or journaling," Pash recommends.

Some self-care strategies you may find helpful include:

  • Taking a yoga class
  • Journaling
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Listing to music
  • Redecorating a room in your house
  • Aromatherapy
  • Listening to a podcast

Even indulging a little can be a mood booster, like losing yourself in a good book and ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant. You could even treat yourself to a new outfit, a new pair of shoes, or the latest gadget. Think about things that bring you joy and try to incorporate them into your life.

Evita Limon-Rocha, MD, Kaiser Permanente

Breakups can be an opportunity for growth and self-exploration.

— Evita Limon-Rocha, MD, Kaiser Permanente

Dr. Limon-Rocha also recommends focusing on gratitude practices. "Engaging in gratitude exercises can be a highly therapeutic reminder of what is going well. These gratitude exercises can help one live in the moment to help move past the breakup and focus on the present," she explains.

Why the "No Contact" Rule Is So Important After a Breakup

Connect With Other People

While it may be tempting to hole up in your bedroom and wallow in self-pity, this is not a healthy response to a breakup. Instead, make a goal to connect with other people.

Take the time to call family and friends. Even reach out to spend time together. Never underestimate the power of laughing and doing something fun with people who love and support you. Not only is it a great way to heal, but it also helps keep your mind off your ex.

You also should develop an emergency contact list of people you can contact during your moments of weakness. In other words, on those nights when you're tempted to call your ex and ask about getting back together, reach out to someone on your emergency list instead.

Likewise, talking to supportive people about the breakup can be somewhat cathartic. So, ideally you have a friend or family member you can talk to. If you don't, then consider talking to a counselor instead. The idea is that talking about your feelings with regard to the breakup will help you process your feelings and come to terms with what happened.

Just be sensitive to the fact that friends and family members may become fatigued if that's all you talk about. So try to be a good friend in the midst of your crisis.

Plan a Solo Adventure

After spending time as a couple, it can be hard learning to be single again. And while the thought of doing something solo may seem a little daunting at first, it also can be extremely liberating too. Of course, you don't have to plan an entire experience, but you should plan to get used to the idea of spending time alone again.

Whether that means spending a relaxing evening alone, going on a hike in the mountains, or planning a short getaway, the key is that you get used to being alone with yourself. If you're having trouble coming up with ideas consider choosing something your ex would never do that you really wanted to do.

You will finally get the experience you wanted and it can feel cathartic to do something they would never agree to doing. It's the perfect opportunity to make up for lost time. Plus, it might serve as a helpful reminder as to why you're not a good match for one another.

What Is a Rebound Relationship?

Accept That It's Over

While it's tempting to hold onto the hope that you will reunite with your ex, the likelihood of that happening is slim in most cases. As a result, you need to accept that the relationship is over and that it's time to move on.

If you don't accept that things are over, you will be stuck in limbo, waiting and hoping your ex will realize the error of their ways and ask to get back together—most of the time, that does not happen.

Likewise, don't spend much time over-analyzing what you did wrong or how you could change to keep your ex around. While it's a good idea to learn from your mistakes, constantly thinking about what you could or should have done will likely keep you in circles.

"A lot of people think closure can only come from asking the person all these intense questions about them and their relationship. While feedback can be a useful tool, most breakups come down to people just not being the right fit for each other," Pash suggests. "I think that people often judge themselves too harshly for all the things they could have done differently when there is likely nothing wrong with them in the first place."

Instead, learn what you can from the relationship, but keep moving forward. You are closer to healing and moving on with each step you take.

Recognize that your mission now is to accept that the relationship is over. Be patient with yourself, though. Healing after a breakup is not a quick fix. It takes some time for your heart to catch up with the reality of the situation. But you will get there as long as you keep working on it.

Dr. Limon-Rocha notes that it is important to seek professional help if you're struggling to move on after a breakup. "If one is having difficulty with low energy, low motivation, not finding enjoyment in things that once gave them joy or work performance is being impacted by mood, it may be time to seek more support and care," she explains.

Evita Limon-Rocha, MD, Kaiser Permanente

Just as we get glasses for difficulties in vision or seek medical care for pneumonia, the same care and attention should be given when feelings of sadness and loss are impacting our well-being, such as after a breakup.

— Evita Limon-Rocha, MD, Kaiser Permanente

How to Start Dating After A Breakup

A Word From Verywell

Whether you initiated the breakup or you were completely blindsided, it's important that you put the past behind you and move on. How exactly you go about doing that is entirely up to you. The key is that you make a concerted effort to move on.

This doesn't mean that you will handle every day perfectly, but as long as you are making conscious decisions to choose healthy options in your life, you will soon be feeling much better and your broken heart will have mended.

‘I Still Miss Someone:’ Why You Might Feel This Way

FAQs

How to Feel Better After a Breakup? ›

Give yourself three months to begin to heal

Studies suggest that most people start to feel better around three months post-breakup.

How long does it take to feel better after a break up? ›

Give yourself three months to begin to heal

Studies suggest that most people start to feel better around three months post-breakup.

What are the 5 stages after a breakup? ›

They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, according to Mental-Health-Matters. These are the natural ways for your heart to heal.

How do I get over a breakup I still love? ›

5 Ways to Move on From an Ex You Still Love
  1. Cut off all communication (Both direct and indirect) For the sake of your physical and mental health, this is the first thing you've got to do. ...
  2. Forgive the past. ...
  3. Let's get real. ...
  4. Understand that it's natural to still love your ex. ...
  5. Don't forget to love you.
Jun 21, 2021

What are the 4 stages after breakup? ›

A breakup is a kind of dying—here's how we grieve.

Knowing the phases of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — can help normalize one's break-up experience.

What not to do during breakup? ›

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid After a Breakup
  • 1) Trying to Get them Back.
  • 2) Oversharing on Social Media.
  • 3) Dwelling on your Previous Relationship.
  • 4) Getting into another Relationship Soo Soon.
  • 5) Doing Nothing Because you Don't Know where or how to Start Over.
Mar 22, 2022

How long does the average breakup last? ›

When looking at the timeline of breakups, many sites refer to a “study” that's actually a consumer poll a market research company conducted on behalf of Yelp. The poll's results suggest it takes an average of about 3.5 months to heal, while recovering after divorce might take closer to 1.5 years, if not longer.

What is the most painful stage of a breakup? ›

Stage 1: Shock

The shock of a breakup is all about pain, disorganization, and confusion, Gullick tells mbg. You may try to rationalize it and feel an immense need to understand what went wrong. "Often, it's bewildering," she says.

What does a healthy breakup look like? ›

“In order for a breakup to be healthy, you've got to have space to process your emotions–both with the other person and even more importantly, with yourself. Explore what you're feeling and why. Ask yourself questions. And most importantly, don't judge yourself or your feelings.”

How do you let go of someone? ›

How to let go of someone
  1. Recognize when it's time. Learning when it's time to let go is often the most difficult part of this process. ...
  2. Identify limiting beliefs. ...
  3. Change your story. ...
  4. Stop the blame game. ...
  5. Embrace the “F” word. ...
  6. Master your emotions. ...
  7. Practice empathy. ...
  8. Adopt an attitude of gratitude.

How do you accept a relationship is over? ›

How Do You Accept A Relationship Is Over?
  1. First, remember that your grief is valid. ...
  2. With that said, do your best to take a break from places that can remind you of the relationship. ...
  3. Feel free to get out and have fun on your own—with friends, with casual dates, or just with yourself.
Apr 17, 2023

Why are mutual breakups so hard? ›

Mutual breakups where both sides agree to split (say, one person has to move for work and the other doesn't want to uproot or you both acknowledge you grew apart) can make moving on more difficult because you can't quite vilify your ex, Chan says.

Why does love hurt so much after a breakup? ›

Rejection triggers feelings of humiliation, isolation, and pain. Research by Naomi Eisenberger at UCLA has found that the emotional pain of rejection is coded in the same part of the brain as physical pain.

Who hurts more after a breakup? ›

Women experience more emotional pain following a breakup than men, researchers have found. They reported higher levels of both physical and emotional pain. However, researchers also said that, over time, they came put stronger - while men simply moved on and never fully recover.

How do you know a break up is final? ›

It depends on the gravity of the problem and how it has affected the other person. Therefore, if your ex doesn't take your words at face value anymore, doubts everything you do, or is not interested in speaking again, it's best to simply accept that the relationship is lost, and the breakup is final.

How long does breakup pain last? ›

Meanwhile, scientists have conducted actual research trying to nail down the timeline for moving on: A 2007 study1 found 71% of people who'd gone through a recent breakup felt better after about three months, while a survey of some 2,000 people in 2017 put the number at six months.

How long does the average breakup last before getting back together? ›

In most cases, couples get back together within 1-6 months of the breakup. This statistics only includes couples who stayed together in a long term relationship after getting back together.

How long does it take to forget someone you truly loved? ›

According to research published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, it takes 11 weeks to feel better after a relationship ends. But a separate study found it takes closer to 18 months to heal from the end of a marriage. In reality, heartbreak is a grieving process - and it looks completely different for everyone.

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