One from the archive: This is a light-hearted list of suggestions of things to consider when recovering from a breakup. Some of this list of breakup advice will be one-offs but many are ongoing recommendations.
The list should be equally useful to both men and women – at least that is my intention. It’s kind of long so grab a drink and sit down and scan the list. Feel free to add your own breakup advice or tips at the end. (Also let me know if there are any typos, would you? Thanks!)
Buy New Bedding
Let’s start with one of my favourite tips – it’s about your bed. There is something wonderful about sleeping in new bedding that is not tainted with memories of an ex. Of course this one is more relevant to those whose ex has actually been in their bed but it can work either way.
Travel, see new places, learn new things, and get a different perspective on life, love and your former relationship. It can be day trips, over-nighters, weekend breaks, proper vacations, or even around the world – whatever your budget allows.
(Update for 2021: Depending on where you are in the world travel may not be an option, but consider traveling somewhere new in your area).
Sometimes treating yourself to something you really want can be very therapeutic. Some people call it retail therapy – whatever you call it’s fine by me. It can be some new clothes, a gadget, even a car. I recently treated myself to an exercise bike for the flat so I can watch TV and get some exercise in.
Again, whatever your budget allows, go for it. The trick is only spending what you can afford to spend and not do crazy impulse purchases that land you in debt. Shop responsibly guys!
Set Your Goals
After my biggest breakup ever, (years ago now), I ended up making lots of goals. On the list were things like getting a house, a car, a new job, reading more, getting more fit, the list was quite long. And you know what? When I read it back six months to a year later, I’d achieved almost all the goals on my list. It’s a good idea to have big and small goals.
In the early days a goal may be to get out of bed and into the shower, or to eat something…Take baby steps on the goals.
Read Positive Books
It’s fair to say that this is a suggestion I’d make to everyone – whether they’re going through a break up or not! But it’s exceptionally important to fill your head with positive things, daily, and especially at bed time when you’re healing from a loss of love. Reading things that change the way you think, that make you feel better and healthier.
Get a Makeover
This is good advice – whether you’re male or female. We can all use a bit of a change, in hair color or style, or maybe with some new clothes. Just consider doing anything that might make you feel a little bit more desirable.
Volunteer at a Home, Hospital or Charity
One way to focus less on your own pain or problems is to help others in some way. Is there a charity that you would like to support? Could you donate some of your time to an old folk’s home, in a hospital or anywhere. Maybe you’d like to work specifically with animals? Anything is cool as long you’re being of service to others. It’ll go a long way to making you feel better about yourself.
Delete Their Contact Details (& Block If Necessary)
What an empowering step it is to remove them from your phone – not just your ex’s phone number but those chats and texts too. By removing them from your phone, it will help remove the temptation to reach out and contact them. Of course you may have memorised the number or have it stashed somewhere but at least it will give you a few hurdles to jump through if you get tempted to break no contact. It will also stop you reading and re-reading all of your previous conversations.
Join a Club
Whether it’s a motorcycle club, one for knitting, books or hill walking – a club will be a great way to get you out of the house and around like-minded individuals. It might even be one that gets you fit and healthy.
Make a Clean Break
When it comes to healing, it’s wise to start off by making a clean break if possible. In some cases going “no contact” will not be an option (you may have kids, school or work together). But in the early days especially, in order to heal it’s generally best if you can make as clean of a break as possible. If you do have to see and speak to an ex, then aim for LC (limited contact). It prolongs the healing process when you try to remain in contact with ex, be friends with an ex (benefits or otherwise). Sex with an ex though tempting is rarely if ever a sound idea to get over it.
Write a Letter to Your Ex (But Don’t Send it)
There is something really therapeutic about writing down all that you want to say to your ex boyfriend or girlfriend. The thoughts might range from “I miss you” to “I hate you” – or anything at all. Far too often I did write letters to the exes and either they got me no response or I regretted in the end. I soon learned to write in a No Contact journal for myself. More tips on Writing a Letter to An Ex here.
Learn Things: Attend Workshops or Seminars
Take a look around for events online and find some workshops or seminars that you can attend to learn new things and meet new people. They could be business related, sports, psychology or personal development…anything really. Chances are they’re happening regularly in any cities near you.
Redecorate or Move House
Depending on your situation, simply redecorating or shuffling the furniture can add a mental shift in your life. I have already mentioned buying new bedding which this kind of ties in with. It can simply make your space feel fresh. In some extreme cases, I have heard of people moving house entirely. That’s one way to create all new memories but again a bit drastic.
Box Up the Mementos
Take those pictures, clothing items, stuff animals, trinkets, CDs, books or anything that you have that remind you of your ex and put them away for those early days, weeks or months. I personally learned the hard way not to just bin them. Once you’ve healed and are either over it or more ambivalent will be the time to decide whether to dump or donate stuff. But in the early phase of recovering from a break up, I would recommend you just put them out of sight until you can deal with it, unemotionally.
Go Back to School to Retrain or Take a Night Class
As above where I recommended learning new things by seminars and workshops, this is a bit more dedicated and serious. I’ve seen SYBD-ers go back to school to graduate or even get higher degrees like MBAs and PHDs. It’s a wonderful way of turning your pain into gain by retrain. You’ll be so consumed with assignments you won’t have time to be overthinking things about an ex boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife.
Well in some cases it can be said we let ourselves go a bit. We maybe have spent more time on our relationships than working on our own health and fitness. So here is where taking up karate, swimming, the gym, running, biking, soul cycle, or anything else you fancy can really help you use fitness to feel better. Get those endorphins swimming and you’ll feel better each time you do!
Find a Support Network
Our family and friends mean well but often, unless they’re going through a split too, they can end up doing more harm than good. So finding people who may be going through what you are, can be a God-send. There are plenty of online forums and you may find some support type groups locally on sites like MeetUp.
Listen to Empowering Music
Music is such an amazing emotional transformer. It can make us feel great and can make us feel sad. The trick is to find the music that makes you feel ready to take on the world. For me it’s often “old school” R&B (from my early roller skating days) but can also be some “alternative 80s” music. If I am feeling particularly low – I can throw on a playlist like that and it will perk me right up. Also if I am suffering the “Rage Stage” as I call it – I opt for really hard rock to help me dissipate the anger. So it’s just about finding your go-to music to make you feel better.
Get a Hobby
Do you have a hobby that you love? If not, it may be the time to find one. It can be sporty, arty, creative, altruistic, collecting (anything),…Just find something that will allow you to lose yourself in it for a while. My “sidehustle” is a hobby that makes me money (my fave kind of hobby). I design books, shirts, mugs, stickers and more for Print on Demand sites like RedBubble, TeePublic and Amazon. It’s a great and cathartic way for me to lose myself in something for hours that I can potentially make money from while I sleep. What could be better?
Does that sound a bit lame? Maybe. But really it’s about treating yourself well – take yourself out to the movies, a gig or a meal. Do things you’d like to be doing with someone special, because you would be. You’re special and worth it. Eventually the chances are you’ll be dating someone else again in the future, but why wait to go see that film you want to see, or try that restaurant you want to try? The time is now.
My mother always used to say “a good cry will add seven years to your life”. (So by that token, I should probably live until I am 293).
Crying is a hugely gratifying way to get that pent emotion out of you. It’s healing and cathartic and perfectly acceptable for men and women. Let no one tell you otherwise.
Many-a-post was written on SYBD’s forum by men who were at work, or home, and in tears.
Though there is often a stigma of men can’t be weak, screw that, it’s human to cry when feeling pain. Just find your own place to do so, where you won’t feel judged or embarrassed – and then let it all out. Crying is good for the soul. Better than suppressing it.
Treat or Reward Yourself
This is similar to some previous suggestions, but really you just need to be kind to you. Maybe if you go a day, a week or a month without contacting your ex, you treat yourself to something you have been wanting or go some place you want to go. Gamify your life by setting tasks and appropriate rewards.
Reconnect with Old Friends
Often people, when they get into relationships, make that their priority. It can mean that friendships can suffer. So take some time to reach out to some old friends you’ve not spoken to in some time. This is something that has done wonders for my social life and I highly recommend just phoning them up. It can also work to simply reach out to someone you’re connected to on Social Media but haven’t spoken to in a while.
After a breakup, it can be very hard to get motivated to go out. There is a real temptation to say “no” to any invites that come your way – opting to stay in and stream your fave box set.
The thing is, if you shift your mindset, and go out, you may just be surprised how good of a time you have.
There have been countless times when I wanted to say “no” to a gig or a party, or other event – only to go and have a surprisingly good time when I went.
Affirmations can get a bit of a bad rap sometimes but really they can be good at shifting our negative thinking. They are simply positive statements that can challenge any self-sabotaging thought patterns. You can simply do a search for popular ones or make them up yourself. All you need to do is make sure they’re in the present tense “I am healthy and happy”. Ensure you always use positive words, in the affirmative. (Avoid can’t, don’t won’t, etc). Make them statements.
The trick, if I may offer a small piece of advice, is to always say things you believe or believe are possible. I used to walk around saying “I’m a millionaire” and my mind kept calling “Bullshit” suggesting I look at my bank balance. So no wonder it wasn’t actually happening.
So I changed my own affirmations to statements that offer no “resistance”. For example “I love making money while I sleep”. (Absolutely no resistance to that one). This is a video from the Honest Guys and I thought it was going to be a piss-take but I listened to a chunk and it seems pretty genuine and I liked the ones they chose.
Ask Good Questions
When we go through breakups or divorces, we can be prone to asking all the wrong questions. It might be things like “what did I do to deserve this?” or “what’s wrong with me?” or “what’s s/he got that I don’t have?” or any number of ill advised questions. Better to ask yourself “what can I learn from this situation?” or “what can I do differently next time?”
Cleaning can be therapeutic. Clean out your car, your bathroom, cupboards or closet. There is something cathartic about dealing with thing that you have absolute control over (unlike your relationship’s ending).
Take a Walk or Drive to the Park or Beach
Who doesn’t enjoy some time in nature – be it at the beach, in a park, by a lake or river? It’s a great way to clear your head. Take a journal and write some notes to clear it even more.
Get a Breakup Buddy
It can be helpful to find someone to be a breakup buddy. It doesn’t have to be someone who’s going through one at the time, but it sure can help. It would be a challenge to find someone who is going through exactly what you are, at the same time, but even if you find someone who’s been through something recently enough to know how it feels, it can really be beneficial. You could send emails or texts that you want to send to your ex to your breakup buddy. Or perhaps if you’re in the same area, meet up to talk about stuff. A breakup buddy is not likely to tell you to just “get over it” – they’re more likely to be sympathetic having just been through it (or currently going through it).
Often on the SYBD forums we had breakup buddies become really close friends – even meeting up in different cities and countries with them. It was nice to be able to facilitate that connection through SYBD.
Finally, Just Have Faith
As hard as it seems right now, it’s good to have faith that, even though it’s perhaps challenging right now, (perhaps even hellish), it will get better in time.
Trust that if you want to get over it, you will.
Having witnessed thousands of breakups over the last two decades on SYBD – I have seen how people often not only survive breakups and divorces but they actually thrive. Everything passes. The good and the less so. Or to use another cliche, no storm lasts forever.
What Things Have You Done After a Breakup?
Some of these are pretty random, I know. I’d love to hear some of your ideas…Big or small, what is helping (or has helped) you get over your ex?