Breaking up is hard to do, as the saying goes, and it’s true, for many reasons. A bad breakup can affect every area of your life, including your job, your finances, your health, your happiness, your friendships. It may really feel like your life is over. What is the point of getting out of bed in the morning, of brushing your teeth, of brushing your hair, of eating? Why should you pay your bills or go out with your friends when you are so depressed?
While it is healthy and important to accept and acknowledge your painful emotions after a breakup, it is also important, after a while, to get your life back on track. During your grieving period, it’s good to cry and to rage (not at other people, but in safe ways). It’s OK to complain and express your frustration, sadness and misery. Denying that you feel terrible, insisting that “everything’s fine,” burying your anger can all cause serious problems down the road. So don’t do that. Let yourself feel, and acknowledge your feelings. Give them the respect they deserve.
But once you’ve grieved a while, it’s time to move on. Here are some good ways, big and small, to honour yourself and start moving forward again after a tough breakup.
Take a vacation. This is a no-brainer. You’ve just been through a rotten experience in a particular place. Why not get out of that place for a little while? A vacation doesn’t have to be an expensive logistical nightmare that involves flying halfway around the world to some exotic location, either. You can just take a weekend away somewhere. Where you go in particular is not so important. Just change your scenery a bit. Try a road trip or a train trip, something unusual. Even going to a different town or state can change your mental outlook.
Join a club. This is one of the best ways to meet new friends and to enjoy yourself. After a tough breakup, it is very important for you to remind yourself that you are capable of joy, laughter, and friendship, even as a single person. Don’t look at the club you join as a place to meet and date anyone, not yet. Just think of it as a way to be social. Pick a type of club you are interested in – something cerebral like chess, if that’s what you enjoy, or something physical like hiking or sailing if you’d like to be outdoors and meet other people who enjoy the outdoors. You’d probably be surprised to learn all the different types of clubs there are in your city or hometown.
Take a class. Using your mind is an excellent way to leave a painful breakup behind you. Think of something you’ve always wanted to learn, and find a class, either at your local university or through a community centre. Try art, whether it is looking at it or making it yourself. Cooking is a popular thing to learn, and many restaurants offer culinary classes where you can learn to make delicious food yourself, and eat well at home. Cerebral subjects like history or science offer a good workout for your mind. No matter what you decide to take, you will be getting out of your house and engaging your mind, and you’ll be meeting and getting to know other people who like to use their minds.
Exercise. One of the best ways to feel better. Working out releases endorphins – chemicals that actually change your mood. Don’t go crazy and overdo it if you haven’t exercised in a while. Start easy. But consider joining a gym or local pool if you like to swim. Take some group exercise classes where you can suffer with other people and get to know them. Solitary exercise is also good for you – try running or cycling or even a daily walk of a few miles. The health benefits are proven, and the emotional boost will help you get over your breakup more quickly.
Learn a new language. If you really want to change the way you think, consider learning a foreign language. What have you always wanted to learn to speak, but never took the time? Classes in major world languages like Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, French, Portuguese, Russian, German and so on can be found anywhere. And most other languages, whether Amharic or Greek or Congolese or Cherokee, can be found with a little research, particularly in cities. Learning a new language will really change the way you think about the world and about your life. You will learn to express yourself in completely different ways. And the hard work and study will do you good, taking your mind off your misery.
Get a new job. This may seem a drastic change, but it can be a great way to shake up your life and move in a different direction. Consider asking for a promotion or new job title at your current place of employment. But also think about a totally different job you might enjoy. Is there a dream career you never pursued? Do some research into a new industry and go on some informational interviews (where you ask the employers questions to learn, not where you are begging for a job).
Buy new clothes. Another creative way to change the way you feel about yourself. Try something different. Dress more formally for a while, or try a different style, whether sporty or hipster or retro. Changing your outward appearance will be fun, and will also change the way you think and feel.
Walk more. Get out and travel on foot more. Change the speed at which you move through the world. Walk around your city or neighbourhood instead of driving or taking the bus or train. Moving at a slower pace will change the way you see the world. You will notice things you never saw before. Walking a city can be a fantastic way to get to know it in a completely new way, and to meet people. You’re a new person, so give yourself a new way to engage with your surroundings.
Meditate. Rather than changing your outward self, whether by dressing differently or walking instead of driving, consider changing your inward self. Meditation doesn’t have to be formal or difficult – it can just mean setting aside some quiet time for yourself every day. There are plenty of how-to books and podcasts out there on meditation of every variety. Try a few and see what they are like.
Move. This is similar to changing jobs. Where we live is a big part of our identity. If you really want to start anew, think about moving. Yes, it might be difficult, but the rewards can be great. You’ll change your routine and your habits and many other areas of your life if you move to a new neighbourhood or even to a completely different city.