When a person is head over heels in love, happy chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin are produced in the brain. But when the relationship ends, the brain abruptly stops churning out these chemicals. The result: feelings of withdrawal and despair, comparable to what happens when someone stops using drugs or alcohol.
The stages of a breakup — shock; denial, anger, depression and acceptance — aren’t all that different from the stages of grief.
The end of a relationship can leave a big hole in your heart and it may require a significant grieving period. The longer you’ve been together, the more difficult things can be.
Make sure that you give yourself permission to grieve this loss and experience the pain that it causes. Otherwise, it may take longer for you to feel better in the long term and move on.
Let yourself cry, scream, shout, or whatever you need to do to get your negative emotions out. (That means you too men)!
It’s so important to allow this grieving, but set yourself a daily time limit. Having a set amount of time to deal with these emotions will provide you with an outlet to vent while preventing you from dwelling on your emotions for too long.
Your first instinct may be to want to ignore or dull your pain by turning to alcohol, drugs, sex or food, but none of these will provide long-term solutions and may end up making you feel worse.
Here are some healthy ways to soothe your emotional pain.
1. Do all the things you couldn’t do when you were together/married. Watch your favourite TV programmes, listen to your favourite music, eat your favourite food. Go to the places that you really enjoyed but your ex didn’t. Savour these simple pleasures and enjoy your freedom.
2. Focus on looking after yourself. Have pampers, go to the gym, have long walks and bike rides, spend time in nature. Have some quiet time.
3. Do at least one nice thing for yourself every week. Cook a lovely meal, download some great music, buy an interesting book, plan some adventures and spoil yourself.
4. Spend quality time with compassionate, supportive friends. Surrounding yourself with the right people will help you to see yourself as a worthwhile person. A recent study revealed having a true friend is the equivalent of having an extra £12,000 a year. (Not sure how they worked that one out but it rings true to me). Make the most of your friends.
5. Get a new hobby/skill. Learn how to play that musical instrument you’ve always been interested in. Start blogging; write that book, take up photography – an exciting, fulfilling hobby can literally save your life. Plus learning new skills boosts your self esteem.
6. Plan some adventures which really get your blood pumping. If ever there was a time for travel and adventure its now. If you have kids have some adventures with them and then have some on your own too, while the kids are with your ex. If money is tight be creative. Having interesting travels gives you lots of stories to tell and puts some distance between you and your break up.
7. Make new friends. Join a club, society or association that you’re interested in and throw yourself into it. Spending time with people who enjoy the same things as you is a great way to make new friends.
8. Volunteer for a cause you believe in. Mixing with people who are less fortunate than yourself can make you feel miles better about your life.
9. Throw yourself into your work, if you enjoy your job. If you don’t put all of your efforts into finding a career that floats your boat. It’s time for fresh starts all round.
10. Train for a 10K or even a marathon or train for a long distance bike ride to support a charity that means something to you. You’re distracting yourself and at the same time getting fit and helping other people.
11. Let it be known to family and friends that you are available for social activities. Say yes to every invitation initially, once you start to feel better, you can still say yes, but you can be a bit more discerning with your acceptances. Having dates in my diary to look forward to literally saved my sanity.
12. Take up a pastime that allows you to look within. Tai chi, mindfulness and meditation are great examples. As well as being a great stress/anxiety buster these activities encourage you to calm your mind and accept yourself for who you really are. Your relationship broke up for a reason. Spend time thinking about what went wrong and what was right with the relationship. Allow any negative patterns to emerge. Learn for the future.
13. I know this one’s a cliché but lose weight, tone up and get a new haircut or a new image. Has being part of a couple for years meant that you’ve let yourself go a bit? Be at your best.
14. Mourn the relationship, if necessary have a ceremony where you say goodbye to the past. Burn or give away painful reminders so that they are out of your life. This will help you to achieve closure. When the grieving begins to lessen, you will find it so much easier to understand valuable life lessons from the whole experience.
15. Act ‘as if’. Even if you’re not feeling great, acting as if matters have improved just may surprise you. If you act like you’re back in control of your emotional life — even if you don’t feel that way initially— you become in control of your emotional life.
Divorce is painful but it can also bring about a re-birth. It can be the making of you – turning your break up into your breakthrough.
If you want help moving from pain to possibility then get in touch today.