Whether or not you see a breakup coming, it’s impossible to truly prepare yourself for what it will feel like. Ending a relationship with someone you care about can cause a lot of pain, even if you know in your heart that it needed to happen. If you’re struggling with what to do during a breakup, you’re not alone — many people find themselves overwhelmed by complex feelings as they start the healing process. But there’s one thing you can do to make things easier on yourself and your ex-partner — and it might be the opposite of what you think will help you most.
When I’ve gone through breakups before, my gut reaction has been to cancel all my plans and block out a good two weeks to sit on the couch and eat ice cream. Ben and Jerry’s is the best form of therapy, right? As it turns out, inactivity won’t always help you nurse your wounds and begin to move on. Breakup expert Kate Galt tells Elite Daily that the real key to feeling better is getting out and doing things. “Staying busy will help you and your ex-partner and all those who are mourning the loss of love,” she explains. “The grieving heart needs self love [and] healthy community.”
Galt explains that the more you can fill your calendar with fun plans and outings with friends, the more you can start to remember what it’s like to have a life outside of your former relationship. “When it’s time to stay busy and let the mind grief relax, we are getting out of our head and into the flow of life,” Galt says. “We are participating in the world, which brings us new experiences and possibilities. When we are challenged and competent in the stuff we stay busy [with], then we are even more happy and resilient to the changes around us.”
Try to think about things you love to do — hobbies, favorite places, fun events coming up — and force yourself to get out of the house and have these experiences. It might be difficult at first to imagine doing things without a partner, but once you realize what you’re capable of, you can begin to let go and have fun again.
This doesn’t mean you should keep your schedule so packed that you don’t have the emotional space to process what has happened. Galt says that even your personal time can be used productively, so you aren’t just a slave to negative thoughts in your mind. “When it’s time to think, we can do so in a loving way,” she explains. “We can cry, write about our thoughts, and talk with friends about what’s happening for us after the huge change of a breakup.” When you’re stuck in a loop of sad feelings, try journaling about everything that’s on your mind. This will help you process your thoughts in a helpful way rather than wallowing in despair.
As you stay busy doing things you love, try to take a clean break from communicating with your ex. Samantha Burns, dating coach and author of Breaking Up and Bouncing Back, suggests cutting off contact for 90 days after you end the relationship. “It takes time and healthy boundaries to fall out of love,” she explains. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself to remain friends, especially not within those first 90 days when the feelings are not truly platonic. No one goes from lovers to friends overnight.” You may be truly hoping for a friendly relationship with your ex — and that’s great! — but trying to be friends too quickly may only make you feel more confused. Take some space to reconnect with other friends who can support you through the breakup.
As much as you might want to lie around doing nothing, it’s best for both you and your ex if you stay busy living your individual lives. “Follow your bliss and don’t check in with your ex,” Galt advises. Use this time of change as an opportunity to focus on what really matters to you, and to give yourself the love you truly deserve. You’ll be bouncing back in no time.