The pain of a relationship breakdown is like no other. It’s a dull anguish that seems to be with you morning and night, and it sucks. It just does.
How do you manage the daily tasks of life and at the same time make sense of where it all went wrong? There seems to be something about a separation that takes hostage of our rational brain, rendering us blank when it comes to any thoughts of the future. It can feel like a death and is often accompanied by the same feelings of grief and loss.
But, I’m happy to say, there is an ending to the seemingly bottomless pit of misery.
I know it may not feel like it right now, but things will get better. Whether you’re newly separated, or it’s been months and you’ve just heard how happy your ex is without you, these simple steps will help you ease through the difficult days.
Fortunately these steps are simple and won’t involve cutting your hair short, gorging on chocolate or wracking up a credit card debt on an overseas adventure. What they will do, when implemented on a daily basis, is help you get through the murky, dark days with a sense of purpose.
Of course, when you start to feel more like your old self again, by all means, take that new adventure!
1. Create a simple routine
Probably the single most effective thing you can do for yourself during a difficult time of grief and loss is to create a daily routine.
No matter how hard it seems, get up at the same time each day – even if you have to roll yourself out of bed! Take a shower, eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water, try to go to bed at the same time every night – and keep off that phone! There may be days when even these simple tasks will feel too much, but having a daily routine of self-care will help you get through the dark days.
When you’re feeling a little better try to incorporate a good mix of pleasurable activities into your daily routine also. Clean out a cupboard, go for a swim at the local pool, do some gardening, walk the dog, sign up for a yoga or Zumba class – whatever gives you even the smallest bit of enjoyment, do that.
2. Don’t forget to breathe
Whether you’re feeling anxious and upset or you’re lying awake at night thinking about all the ins and outs of how and why it all went wrong, I can guarantee that your breathing is shallow and your nervous system is stuck in a fight/ flight response.
This state is NOT conducive to getting a good night’s sleep! So let’s put the brakes on your racing mind and switch your body into a calmer, more relaxed state.
Try this simple breathing exercise:
Get into a comfortable seated position and close your eyes
Take your attention to your breathing
Count to four on an in breath (inhale 1..2..3..4)
Count to six on the out breath (exhale 1…2…3…4….5…6)
Focus on making your exhalations longer than your inhalation
3. Surround yourself with the right people
Talking about your feelings with a trusted friend, a loving family member or a trained therapist can help you process the situation and break that feeling of isolation and disconnection.
Nights can be the most difficult time after a relationship breakup. Set up times to have dinner with friends or have a family member drop in on a regular basis to keep you company. Even minding a friend’s pet for a while can help alleviate the difficulty of being alone at night.
Socialising is usually the last thing we feel like doing at a difficult time, but keeping in touch with supportive friends can help get you through the early stages of a separation. When you’re ready, let friends know that you want to focus or talk about things outside the relationship breakdown – this can be a welcome relief, for you and your loved ones!
At times you might find yourself feeling differently about the separation. You might find it occupies your mind less and you want to forge ahead with a better future. This is a good healthy sign that you are finally starting to move on.
Time is the biggest healer of broken hearts. But if you notice that you aren’t able to move forward after a reasonable period of time, or you’re unable to function and cope at work or with the kids, it may help to talk to a trained therapist.
Many people come to me seeking information and support on how to cope with a relationship breakdown. I help people let go of the past, start focusing on the future and restore feelings of self-worth and joy.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What steps do you take to start feeling good again after the breakdown of a relationship?