How to deal with heartache: 6 post-breakup mental health tips
If you worry that your breakup may start affecting your daily life, here are a few things you can do to keep yourself mentally healthy.
Breakups are never easy, whether you were in a relationship for a week, a month, a year or 10 years. And if you just feel relief after it’s over, that's great and you can just start moving on with your life. On the other hand, if you’re constantly going over the breakup and other aspects of the relationship in your head and you’re worried that it may start affecting your daily life, then there are a few things you can do to keep yourself mentally healthy.
1. Go on a social media detox
It may help you connect with friends but social media itself isn’t your friend - not by a long shot, and definitely not when you’re going through a breakup. A study, published in Proceedings of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) in 2019, claimed that social media can present us with situations that make it harder to move on from past relationships. This is attributed to the algorithms social media apps use to connect you with people you know or memories you may care about. While tools like blocking, muting and deleting do exist, you may still be connected to some common friends or your ex’s family members who share posts that include your ex. The best way to deal with this is to take a break from social media altogether. Yes, the idea can be scary for some, but you’ll feel so much more free and present in the moment without it. Take a few weeks to begin with, and see if it actually makes you happier.
2. But don’t take a break from your social life
Social media is one thing but social life is quite another - even though there might be a huge overlap these days. While you take a break from social media apps, find other ways to stay in touch with your friends. Make plans with them for lunch and even for weekend getaways if possible. Bring back the sleepovers trend. Try new cafes and set up street-food dates with them. If your friends happen to be busy, don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with new people, join a book club or even go out alone. Learning to be content with your own company can be a very liberating experience because being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lonely.
3. Come up with a new fitness plan
Being in love can make you gain weight. This isn’t just something people say, science has proved it many times now. So what should your first plan of action be when the relationship ends? No, not stress-eating. Come up with a plan to get back in shape, physically as well as mentally. Regular exercise not only helps tone your body but it also promotes better mental health. Even better? Include a team sport into your fitness journey. A study published in Leisure Sciences claims that 25-34-year-olds who don’t participate in team sports regularly are twice as likely to experience depression.
4. Sign up for hobby classes
The end of a relationship means more free time. Not filling up that time with a new, productive activity could leave your mind idle - that’s no good when you’re dealing with a breakup. Most of us are always complaining about not having enough hours in a day to be able to do everything we would like to. Well, it’s time to figure out that one creative hobby you’ve always wanted to lose yourself in if you had the time. A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology claims that time spent on a creative activity every day can promote better mental health and wellbeing. So whether it’s writing, painting, baking or sewing, it’s time to try something new that makes you feel excited. Make sure you put aside all distractions during this time.
5. Practice healthy self-care
When it comes to post-breakup coping mechanisms, most of the popular ideas seem a little bit unhealthy. From eating a tub of ice-cream every night to risky sexual behaviour - your friends might not point out the harm you could be causing to yourself with these so you’ll need to figure out where to draw the line yourself. Comforting “junk” food can completely derail your fitness goals and even put you at risk of obesity and other diseases. Risky sexual behaviour might provide temporary satisfaction but will increase your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or infection. We know you want to make yourself feel good though and there is a healthier way to practice self-care. Try cooking your meals instead - studies show that it could make you more conscious about what you’re putting in your body, leading to a healthier, more affordable diet. You could even think about volunteering your time or skills at an NGO of your choice. Helping others might also inspire you and encourage you to make healthier decisions in your life.
6. Speak to a professional
You could be doing everything wrong and might remain perfectly fit or you could be doing everything right but still end up suffering from mental health conditions after a breakup: some of us are just genetically predisposed to depression and other mental health conditions. That said, you can always reach out to a medical professional as soon as you notice the signs of depression creeping in. Also, always remember, you can speak to a counsellor or therapist even before that, at any point in your life when you feel the need to talk to someone. Before the breakup, after a breakup or during - it doesn’t matter. Therapy is for everyone and there is no shame in seeking it.
For more information, read our article on Depression: Symptoms, Stages, Prevention and Treatment.
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