According to “Psychology Today,” broken hearts are not just about emotion. A portion of your brain reacts physiologically to the pain, and your heart can get involved for real, causing chest pain and shortness of breath. Time will heal you, but you need to help the process along. When you have the flu, you don’t just crawl into bed and hope for the best; you see a doctor and take steps to ease the symptoms. Dealing with a broken heart should be no different.
Be Kind to Yourself
You’re not going to be at full efficiency for a while, so don’t ask it of yourself. If you have any vacation time coming to you at work, use it. Ideally, get away for some time, even if you just visit friends or relatives in a different town. The change of scenery will help you transition, especially in the early days of a breakup. Avoid making any major decisions. Working through the grief of loss takes time; it doesn’t turn off like a light switch.
Build a Support Network
When you’re with friends or loved ones, your brain actually releases natural opioids or painkillers. Take advantage of them. Not only will spending too much time alone give you the opportunity to obsess about what went wrong and how angry you are, but you’re not doing anything to enable your body’s natural defenses. Get together with friends and vent to them instead. The best ones are those who have gone through this themselves. They’ll be less likely to grow impatient with you. Avoid toxic relationships, like a sibling who always makes you feel worse about yourself. A friend who doesn’t judge or talk back can be ideal. Consider adopting a pet from the local pound.
After your little get-away vacation, pick up the reins of your life again with both hands. Develop a new routine for yourself post-breakup and try to stick to it. It will give your life structure, and that’s comforting to the psyche. Beginning a major project that you’ve been procrastinating about is also good, such as redecorating a room or cleaning out the attic. It will force you to concentrate on making decisions and moving through a series of steps to see the project through to completion. When you’re finished, you’ll feel good about yourself for finally having accomplished it. That clean, redecorated area will be an upbeat reminder that you’re moving on and are achieving a whole new and better life.
Learn from what went wrong. In all likelihood, you weren’t a saint, either, in your lost relationship. Be honest with yourself and identify mistakes you think you might have made so you don’t commit them again, even if it was just choosing someone who was totally wrong for you. Let go; learn to put the relationship behind a mental door and lock it. Don’t call, email or text your ex. Don’t look her up on Facebook to find out if she’s seeing someone new. If necessary, avoid alcohol so you don’t risk doing any of these things in a weak, tipsy moment. Breaking up with someone is as much a fresh start as it is an ending.