No matter your age, breakups are universally a painful experience. With feelings like sadness, loneliness, fear, and anger, they are one of the most emotionally charged experiences in a person’s life. After a breakup, people are often left reflecting on “the good times” and how much they love and miss their former partner. It’s also common to fear that they’ll never meet someone they feel that way about again. It can feel like a very hopeless period in a person’s life.
If a person is unable to deal with the complicated range of feelings from a breakup in a healthy way, it may result in them engaging in unhealthy behaviors. It’s not uncommon for people experiencing a breakup to turn to drugs, alcohol, or risky sexual behavior to make themselves feel better. These unhealthy coping skills provide only a temporary sense of relief, and don’t help a person work through the complicated range of feelings associated with their breakup. Here are some suggestions for getting through a breakup in a healthier way.
Feel the Feelings
I like to tell my clients, “feelings demand to be felt,” to emphasize that if they try and cover up their negative emotions, these emotions will come out in one way or another. If you’re feeling sad, allow yourself to cry. If you’re feeling lonely, sit with the feeling and try to explore how you can grow for it. If you get to a point where your negative emotions are becoming truly overwhelming, implement your healthy coping skills! Talk to a friend or your therapist, go for a walk, snuggle with your pet – these are healthy coping skills that will leave you feeling better, not worse.
Writing can be incredibly therapeutic in helping a person deal with a variety of emotions. When going through a breakup, you may find it helpful to journal to identify how you’re feeling. It could also be therapeutic to write a letter to your former partner expressing how you feel. Depending on your situation, reading your letter aloud, ripping it up, or even sending it could increase its therapeutic power.
Re-Engage with Friends and Hobbies
During a relationship, some people stray away from their hobbies and become more distant from their friends. Use your time without a partner to re-engage in your old hobbies, explore new interests, and strengthen your friendships.
While a breakup is usually a difficult time in a person’s life, it is possible to ease the pain and get through the experience in a healthy way. Feeling your feelings, writing, and re-engaging with your support system and your hobbies will help ease the wide range of negative emotions you may be experience. Remember, talking to a therapist is always a good way to cope with feelings like sadness, anger, and loneliness. If you don’t already have a therapist, contact The Light Program today to schedule an intake appointment, or learn more about our various outpatient programs to see how we can help.