Your alarm starts blaring at the same time as usual, but this morning in particular, it feels impossible to get out of bed. You blearily rub your eyes, check your phone, and scroll through Instagram for 15 minutes before eventually getting up to brush your teeth. It’s the first day after your breakup, and everything just feels different. You haven’t had much time to process, let alone figure out a plan for self-care and healing. You briefly contemplate crawling back under the covers and staying there for the rest of the day, but alas, your to-do list is a mile long.
Whether the breakup came as a surprise, or you’ve known your relationship was running its course for awhile, the first 24 hours after a relationship ends can feel confusing and strange. “If you’re on day one of a breakup, it’s likely that you’re in shock, sad, and your mind is spinning with what it all means,” explains breakup coach and dating strategist Natalia Juarez. “Your number one priority is self-care and self-preservation.” You might have other responsibilities to attend to, but still, try to make the day all about you and your needs. “You’re allowed to unapologetically focus on yourself,” Juarez says. “Others will understand.”
There’s no set agenda for how to heal from a breakup. Every situation is unique, and each person processes their emotions in their own way. If you find yourself in a negative headspace, and you’re concerned you might make decisions you’ll regret, take immediate action to get the help you need. Call a friend if you want someone to talk to. “Know that there is no right or wrong. Tune into yourself, and connect with what you need,” Juarez advises. “If you want to be alone, do it. If you need to be with people, do that.”
But there is one thing Juarez says you should try to avoid: social media. “It’s not worth the risk of seeing anything that might upset you,” she notes. “You’re better off distracting yourself with Netflix, a podcast, or a book.” Rather than anxiously checking Instagram to see what your ex is up to, see if your squad is down for a girls night or movie marathon.
Above all, show yourself kindness. You might be feeling a lot of things right now, but rest assured that grieving is normal and healthy. Samantha Burns, breakup coach and author of Breaking Up and Bouncing Back, says there are multiple stages of breakup grief. “In this early stage of denial, it probably hasn’t sunk in that the relationship is truly over,” Burns tells Elite Daily. “You may find yourself clinging to hope that it will work out, that you will get back together, or you may feel disbelief and physically or emotionally numb.” Accept these feelings and work through them as they arise. “Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is that's bubbling up or pouring out of you, whether it’s intense anger, sadness, relief, or a mixture of confusing emotions,” Burns says.
She also explains that being aware of your emotions can give them less power over you. “Once you label your feelings, you don’t need to do anything rash to numb or change them,” Burns says. “Trust that you are strong enough to give yourself time to experience these emotions. They are not permanent and will roll in and out like waves.”
If you’re going about your day and catch your brain slipping into obsessive thought patterns, like wondering what went wrong in the relationship or what your ex is doing at this very moment, Burns suggests writing your feelings down. “When you’re having trouble getting out of bed or focusing at work, write down any obsessive thoughts that pop up, then return to your task,” she says. Once you’re back home, designate a “worry period” where you allow yourself the mental space to revisit all those feelings and work through them. Burns says this worry period can add structure to your healing process. “You have control over how long or short your worry period will be, with the goal of decreasing the time as the weeks go by,” she explains. “Set an alarm on your phone to notify you when time is up and you need to move on to your next activity.”
A licensed therapist or breakup coach can also help you manage your emotions in a productive and loving way. Remember to be patient with yourself throughout this process. Every day will be different than the one before it, and tomorrow will have its own insights and challenges, too. Now is the time to lean on the people around you and focus on things that bring you joy.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Natalia Juarez, breakup coach and dating strategist
Samantha Burns, breakup coach and author of Breaking Up and Bouncing Back