“Mourning the loss of a relationship can feel much like grieving someone who has passed away. There are various stages of separation — from shock, denial, depression, anger, bargaining, relapse and acceptance,” Chan explains. “Healing from a heartbreak is not one linear line.” Whether you broke up with your partner, your partner broke up with you, or the breakup was mutual (yes, this does happen!), there are some steps you can use to take care of yourself in the aftermath.
Understand That You’re Going To Feel Loss
The first thing to do is to understand that breakups are hard. Be kind to yourself — what you’re feeling is totally natural. “It’s important to understand that in the beginning, your body will be in a state of shock. The person that you were used to talking to, cuddling with, getting in fights with, having makeup sex with is no longer there,” Chan says. “The loss will feel lonely and scary, and on a scientific standpoint, you’re no longer getting your doses of dopamine and oxytocin (feel-good chemicals) from your partner. Your body is craving the chemical fix but isn’t getting it so it’s in a perpetual state of WTF.”
Keep Yourself Busy
You're going to be tempted to reach out to your ex — so make a plan to minimise that temptation by focusing on yourself. “You can keep yourself busy for the first two weeks," Chan says. "Get your feel-good chemicals from spending time with friends, community, and self-care. Get your endorphins going by exercising (hey, this is a great time to try out that new dance class you’ve been considering)."
Reach Out To Others For Support
You’re going to be missing your ex, but instead of texting them, reach out to others. This can be your friends, your family, a therapist — as long as it isn’t your ex. “Get a friend to be your accountability partner, because discipline is not your friend during the stage of recovery,” Chan suggests.
Do A Digital Detox
You’re going to want to unfriend or block your ex on social media — if you're reluctant to do this, keep in mind that you can always re-friend them later, when the heartbreak isn’t so fresh. “Delete old messages, photos, unfollow their accounts, and even better, take a break from social media altogether,” Chan says. “Block their number if you have to, so you don’t obsess about them not contacting you."
She adds, “Before you check his Instagram, stop and ask, ‘Am I being kind to myself right now?’ You know the answer. Replace the urge with another behaviour that forces you to be present. This may mean you call a friend, go for a jog, or write a letter of gratitude to someone you love. The first few times you divert your behaviour it will feel contrived and extremely challenging, but the more you practice replacing the self-sabotaging urge with a healthy practice, the easier it becomes.”
Change Up Your Physical Space
After a break-up, changing up your physical space can help you mentally re-set. If you live together, move out as soon as you’re able to. If you don’t live together — or even if you do — change up your space. This can be as simple as changing your sheets and putting away that framed photo of the two of you, or it could be a total redesign of your space. “The more you can decrease your exposure to memories of your ex, the more you minimise your chances of relapse,” Chan says. “Move around your furniture, simplify the things in your home and metaphorically make space for the new to come in.”
Whatever You Do, Don’t Have Breakup Sex
You’re going to want to have breakup sex — but don’t, Chan says. While it’s only natural to want to, if you do have breakup sex, “you are establishing an emotional bond whether you like it or not. So if you’re trying to get over someone, literally, do not get on top of them! Sex with the ex is prohibiting those bonds to break, keeping you more attached.”
Plan Something Fun — Without Your Ex
Creating new memories without your ex can help you begin to move on. “Book a self-care holiday so that you have something to look forward to,” Chan says. “Choose something healthy like a yoga retreat, or Renew Breakup Bootcamp.”
Reflect On Your Relationship
After the immediate pain has passed, look back on your relationship and reflect. “Sometimes a breakup is the shakeup needed when you need to redirect your life,” Chan says. “Breakups are a great time to go inward, to evaluate what lessons are there for you to grow, to evolve, to be more conscious. Pain is an excellent motivator change. Use the pain as fuel to your fire to create the life and love you desire.”