Coping with a Break Up

It hurts when a relationship ends. There will be a lot of tears, pain and heartache involved as you try to make sense of things and let go of the deep attachment you had to the other person. However, it is possible to pick up the pieces, mend your broken heart, move on and also learn to love again.

Your relationship is over. Maybe you came to a mutual decision to end things. It could also be that you are the one who decided to end things and are now dealing with guilt and self-doubt. Or you were the person ditched and are dealing with anger and the pain of rejection. Whatever the circumstances of your break up, the fact is that the relationship is over and you need to accept this, first and foremost. But how will you cope with the mishmash of emotions that usually accompanies break ups? How will life without your partner be like? Will you ever find someone else? These and many other questions may run through your head.

Break ups are definitely not easy to cope with but it’s important for you to know (and also keep reminding yourself) that you can and will move on. This may however take some time so you will need to be patient with yourself.

A break up is a loss like any other. You have lost something important to you. You have lost someone you loved and were romantically attached to. You have also lost a relationship you had invested in emotionally and the shared dreams and commitments as well. It is ok to mourn this loss. In fact it is important for you to grieve in order to find closure by letting out the sadness, anger and hurt brought on by the break up.

Cry if you need to. Put your feelings on paper if this is the best way for you. Talk out your feelings with a trusted friend, family member or counsellor. Do not suppress these emotions lest they come back to haunt you later on. Nonetheless, with time, it is necessary that you let go of all this pain, put it behind you and move forward. Otherwise, you will be letting these negative emotions run your life, which may inadvertently lead to depression.

It’s also vital for you to surround yourself with a good support system. Don’t go through the pain and hurt alone. Share your feelings and spend time with your family and close friends. Isolating yourself is dangerous as it can raise your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and get in the way of your work, relationships, and overall health.

Do not hesitate to get outside help if you feel things getting out of control. Also, cultivate new friendships, especially if you seem to have lost most of your social networks with the break up. Get involved somewhere, for instance, in community activities or volunteer at a school, place of worship, or any other community organisation.

It’s easy to let yourself go while going through a break up as all the negative emotions you may be experiencing take up all your energy and zeal. Healthy habits may fall by the wayside during this time. It’s important to take good care of yourself now more than ever, as a break up is a stressful and life-changing event. The strain and upset involved can leave you psychologically and physically vulnerable.

Ensure that you eat well, sleep well and exercise. Schedule time in your day for activities that you find calming such as walks, reading your favourite books, watching movies, listening to music or enjoying a hot bath. Exploring new interests may also be therapeutic as it enables you to focus on different things other than your break up. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs and comfort eating.

Avoid your old flame, if you can, especially in the first few weeks of your break up. This is not a sign of immaturity. Seeing this person when the pain of your break up is still fresh may be detrimental to both of you. You may do or say things that you will both regret in the end. Eventually, it may be inevitable for the two of you to run into each other on the streets or at social events, but for that short while after the break up as you try to make sense of things, choose to avoid places that you’re sure to run into your ex. Also, avoid contact over the phone and even on social networks.

Learn a lesson from your break up. Let it be a time for new growth. Ensure that you fully understand what happened and acknowledge the part you played. How did the choices you made affect the relationship? Be honest with yourself and avoid playing the blame game or acting victim. Emerge from the experience with a greater degree of self-awareness and feeling stronger.

June2012