What To Do After A Break Up To Speed Up Healing

There will always be a great deal of ruminating to be done in the wake of a breakup. There are uncomfortable truths to be processed, lessons to be chalked up and the fragility of hope to contend with.

But in the long-run all this emotional house-keeping can become redundant, or even damaging with regards to moving on, because we risk reinforcing the problem by making it the center of our existence.

At some point reacting becomes a far better tool for moving forward swiftly, because it coaxes both the conscious and  subconscious mind into rapidly accepting a new reality of our choosing. A reality devoid of painful conditions, triggers and dependency.

Try Volunteering

Volunteering is a timeless breakup remedy because it directly contrasts two of the most deceptively painful aspects of trauma.

Firstly, it helps shore up self-esteem in a number of subtle ways:

  • By offering invaluable help we consequently become invaluable.
  • We plow through small, yet consistent goals.
  • Simply by taking action we are re-affirming our commitment to regaining control of our lives (this is mostly beneficial to our subconscious mind).
  • It breaks patterns of self-inflicted torture (self-pity, anger, remorse and depression) by relativizing our personal trauma-borne microcosm with the universe of conditions that afflict others (just like us).

Secondly, volunteering, as opposed to most forms of charity, is a social endeavor that will birth new long-lasting relationships, experiences and goals, all while taking titanic steps towards reducing stress. Volunteering is not simply a means of moving on, it is moving on.

Go Solo Traveling

The many virtues of traveling with regards to stress management are already relatively conspicuous. But when it comes to breakups, the rewards are even greater.

Here’s the deal.

  • You get to side-step a graveyard of memories and emotional triggers.
  • Break the daily emotional grind by drowning out grief under an overwhelming spectrum of new experiences (forcing the brain to accept a new reality).
  • Enjoy all of this for yourself, regardless of any other other consideration, and any other variable (eroding dependency and re-prioritizing your needs).

The reason I say solo traveling, rather than a conventional family-or-friends escapade, is because it usually serves as a far more powerful emotional turning point. It is a forcible reminder that our future and emotions are ours to navigate, sans third-party compromise.

Re-decorate The House

An abrupt change in lifestyle or routine may not be everyone’s idea of a comfortable move-on. And admittedly, reacting in the face of grief doesn’t always mean investing in high-energy or high-investment activities. You can get results without taking a leap of faith.

Now, re-decorating might seem like a bit of a stretch with regards to healing, but hear me out on this one. Here are a few reasons I feel it helps (it certainly did help me):

  • Even moving the bed slightly is enough to lessen the frequency and intensity of painful memory triggers, because it helps disassociate memories.
  • It promotes the feeling that it is a new beginning, rather than the end of all things. A home for the you two-point-zero.
  • It is an easily accomplished feat (as mentioned earlier in the article, accomplishing anything, even in small doses, is enough to shore up self-esteem).

Granted, this isn’t a long-term solution to breakup stress, but it is a fantastic way to get the ball moving, and even better way to mark the beginning of a new life.

Go For A Jog

Exercise is such a veritable cure-all on so many levels that it really should warrant its own post. To prove my point, here’s an article I bumped into on my daily Reddit spree today. When it comes to breakups, specifically, here’s why our eyebrows should be twitching in interest:

  • Exercise releases naturally occurring painkillers called endorphins which promote well being, not only in the long-term (prevention) but in the present.
  • Exercise is conducive to better overall health, improving confidence, image and self-esteem.
  • Exercise is accessible in many forms, and at many different times, there’s always a way to sneak a spot of fitness into our daily routine.

If strenuous exercise doesn’t sound like a palatable idea, you can also tap into other less abrasive forms of exercise (which are no less rewarding) such as Yoga or Tai Chi.

A Spot Of Cheese Rolling?

Alright, perhaps not. The point is; breakups are a chance for you to indulge and revel in new opportunities, and not simply drift in a sea of introspective complexity. It’s a chance to whip-out ye olde’  bucket list and get cracking on building a new history.

Sure, making cerebral sense of things is important (after-all, the vast majority of my articles deal with precisely this aspect of breaking up), but unless we accompany our thoughts with action, the wheels of grief risk slowing to a halt very slowly indeed, because our subconscious tribunal hasn’t moved a step closer towards embracing a new future which is independent of its past.

What To Do After A Break Up

Anything you like, so long as you are doing something!

4 Comments What To Do After A Break Up To Speed Up Healing

  1. Luke

    Hi James,

    As much as this article is about women being dumped by their respective boyfriends I thought I’d offer my experiences as a man who has been dumped by his love.

    It has been 6 months since I had my heart broken and still whenever I get the occasional message from the ex, I feel the way my body and emotions respond in an instant (i.e. dump of adrenaline, slight dizziness etc.) . I try to look at my reaction as logically as possible, perhaps in a way to distance myself from ‘feeling’, but I am still surprised by how she can make me feel after this period of time.

    Our paths went two very different ways after the break-up. She took an overseas trip and moved away from the city whereas I had to go about my life as per normal trying to put the pieces of my life back together.

    When she broke up with me, she moved out the next day and that was that. A bit of a shock to the system after 3+ years of being together but I did not wish to stop her doing what was in her heart. What bugged me (and still does to a certain degree) is that in that whole time I have not initiated any contact whatsoever as I needed to repair what was broken in myself, yet every month or two I get a random message from her.

    Normally these messages have to do with something that she left at my place, or something of mine that she has that she wanted to return. These ‘things’ are always of minor importance and I view it as a way for her to make contact without acknowledging that she wants to either see how I am doing, or to just see me. My usual response is to be light-hearted and accommodating (to a point), when all I really want is for her to contact me in a language that I understand (i.e. straight forward and upfront).

    The manner in some of these ‘messages’ is so overly happy that it just seems synthetic. And one particular contact was about wanting to catch up for a drink and while swapping the aforementioned ‘thing’s’, she can show me maps of the places she went while on holidays… After a few months of breaking up. That did not sit well with me at all, and so I declined, fortunately due to arrangements that would not have me there on that day anyway.

    All I wanted was for her to be safe and happy, and as much as the universe seems to keep giving me ‘snippets’ of information about what she is doing these days (despite me not wanting to know for reasons of hurt), I still want that for her, even if I am not a direct contributor of it anymore.

    Perhaps it is the great sadness that can overcome me at times when I feel like there was a chance for it to work, but one-side did not want to try, despite saying the opposite. I have acknowledged (to myself) of the part that I played in the downfall of the relationship (working too much and planning for the future instead of finding a balance of also living in the moment).

    My apologies for the lengthy message. Yesterday my ex was in town and popped in out of the blue to drop off something that was of minimal importance. Fortunately I was not home, as I feel that would have ripped open a wound which is only now starting to truly heal. I have spent the past day wondering why she still does this (despite my ‘logical’ thinking) and hope that I will eventually fully heal, as it would be nice to see her again without the hurt springing forward.

    Thank you for your time

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Hey Luke!

      I understand you at every turn, I have suffered the whiplash of a very similar scenario.

      Six months post-breakup (after a multiple year commitment rooted in genuine friendship, camaraderie and empathy) is really still its infancy. I am often introspectively shocked at how many people claim to be weak-willed because months or years later they still cling to what-ifs and maybes. Sometimes it really doesn’t stop hurting completely, it just becomes the occasional draining pang rather than a debilitating implosion of feeling.

      And of all the false promises and mental traps you are rightly trying to keep a lid on and become conscious about (lest the cause more pain should they crumble), this is probably the biggest one (in my mind). The notion that it will completely vanish with time. It could, of course, but every day it doesn’t, everyday the pain reminds us we aren’t moving forwards in titanic leaps, is another defeat.

      On a balance, I’d rather keep a measure of pain and be reminded that I am not numb, for the sake of my own capacity to feel, than shelve the entire affair and label it a costly mistake.

      No apologies necessary, it’s what this site’s all about! Thanks for your experience and articulate (emotional as well as literary) contribution.

      All the best!

    2. Luke

      I appreciate your swift response James.

      It would seem that for the first time since the break, I wanted to open up to her, but doing this would only have fed whatever it was she is wanting. Once again light hearted messages were swapped, and for the first time I wished her well and that I hoped life was treating her good.

      Perhaps this was a mistake, and I got the ‘feeling’ that she had her ‘fill’ of whatever she wanted out of the contact anyway from the very short reply. Either that or my current state of mind is causing some over-analysing on my part.

      Ah emotions, they can be such a blessing and such a curse!

      I’m sure life will return back to ‘normal’ in a day or so once this event has washed over. I guess there is a bit of disappointment with myself for even opening up a small amount when I knew she would probably not pick up on what I was trying to do.

      Thanks again for your input James

    3. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      I’m not sure it was a mistake, especially with regard to the long-term. Admittedly, moving on can involve a tussle of egos, and she may well have had her fill (knowing that you still cared) and then retreated with new-found security.

      The thing is, though (if this is the case), in the long-run she will remember that you were able to grant her a ray of levity at your own expense, knowing that you might risk being used. Regardless of her intentions, it was also the right thing to do with your own healing in mind. You won’t have to contend with the guilt and anxiety of having held your feelings too close to your chest.

      Additionally, and I don’t want to muddy the waters, however there is also the chance that she may have misinterpreted your gesture. As endearing as telling someone to have a good life is, it can also be signal that the conversation is over. Her silence then, is simply a way of respecting your space.

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