“Grief is the price we pay for love.”
Queen Elizabeth II
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who have experienced heartbreak, and those who will. It is simply part of being human, so at the very least you can take comfort knowing that in this, you are certainly not alone.
Heartbreak comes in many forms. Some heartbreak happens gradually, little moments of sadness building up over time before the inevitable collapse. Other times it happens all at once, and what was whole just a second ago now lies in pieces. Sometimes other people break your heart: friends, family, complete strangers. Or maybe your heart breaks for other things, like war and famine; the treatment of animals on factory farms; the chopping down of sacred trees; the overwhelming feeling that something is going very wrong with the planet and it needs your help. Ahem.
Or perhaps it’s something as simple and devastating as a break up.
I know that right now it feels like your chest is caving in. It doesn’t matter if you initiated the separation or they did, your sadness is allowed and true, valid and real. Sit with it. Embrace it like an old friend. Lay down next to your inner child and tell them everything is going to be okay, because it will. It will.
While healing looks different for everyone, I have found over the years that there are certain steps you can take to make the grieving process a little easier. So, consider this your practical guide for moving through heartbreak in a healthy way that will see you come out the other side rejuvenated. Still a little tender, sure, but also a little stronger, and a little closer to yourself. You got this.
1. Nourish your vessel
This is a gentle reminder to eat well while you are healing. It may seem simple, but it is very easy to fall into one of two traps when you are this emotional: either you hardly eat anything at all, or you eat a whole lot of crap (no judgement, we’ve all been there). This is a good time to flow with intuitive eating. This means listening to your body as best you can, paying attention to when it needs food or water and when it is full. Try to keep your diet healthy and abundant with plants, but don’t be afraid to treat yourself when you need it.
2. Feel the Earth
To connect with nature is to connect with yourself, and that is exactly what you need in times like these. Make a conscious effort to spend some time with your bare feet on the Earth each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Swim in the ocean, read in a forest, watch the sunset or sunrise perched on a rock. Trust me.
3. Write it all down
Even if you’re not normally one for journaling, now is the time. Writing down your thoughts and feelings and dreams allows you to get back in touch with what is truly going on for you. Being able to recognise your current and shifting mindset means a better chance of working through sadness sooner. Whether it’s just jotting down a sentence or two about how you feel today in the notes on your phone, or writing your train of thought across several pages of a journal, every bit counts.
4. Track down toe beans
Few things are as comforting in times of trouble as snuggling with a furry (or feathery, or scaly) friend. If there is a companion animal in your home, seek them out and revel in their presence. They are pure positive energy. They will listen to your woes without judgement. Chances are, their intuition has already led them to your lap, so don’t take that special connection for granted.
If you don’t have an animal in your home, find a loved one who does, or just wander down to your local dog park or even a shelter or sanctuary and let the magic happen.
5. Rest right
Sleep heals. More goes on while you’re curled up in bed than you realise, and the adverse effects of interrupted or infrequent sleep are numerous. But there can also be a tendency to oversleep while grieving, which can be just as detrimental. It’s all about balance, baby. So set yourself a bed time and a wake up time and try your hardest to stick to them. Give yourself at least 7.5 hours so you can move through several REM stages and wake up feeling refreshed, and try to limit naps to a short one in the early afternoon if needed.
6. Be with your people
While you may feel like curling into a ball and shutting out the world until further notice, consider crawling out of your cave to spend time with your people. By surrounding yourself with people you love, you are reminded just how loved you are in return, and you are, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Remember that romantic love isn’t the be all and end all. Let the love of your friends and family wash over you, and don’t be afraid to ask for support.
7. Do what makes you feel good
Think about what you enjoy doing. Maybe it’s yoga first thing in the morning, or blasting music and dancing around your bedroom. Perhaps cooking or knitting is your thing, flower-pressing or drawing or reading or binging Netflix. Whatever it is that feeds your soul, set aside time to do it. Reminding yourself that you can still feel something as pure and wholesome as fun is an important step on your journey to feeling like your old self again. Or rather, your new self.
8. Bid them adieu
Take it from someone who has had their fair share of breakups of all shapes and sizes: a period of no contact is essential. I’m not saying you should never talk to them again, but you must give yourself (and them) time to process. Time to readjust to life without this other person in such a prominent role. One day, when everything has settled, perhaps life will bring you together again as friends, and that’s wonderful. I am friends with several of my past loves, and they are some of the best friends I’ve ever had because they know me on such a deep level. But it takes time to get to that point, so for now—once any practical matters are sorted—give them a gentle nudge (or a firm push) out of your life.
9. Pack away the memories
Memories are wondrous things. It’s incredible how something as simple as a picture or a note, a smell or a song can transport us back to a specific point in time and make us feel how we felt then all over again. In the early days after a breakup, it may feel tempting to relive your time together by whatever means necessary. But the trouble is, when the wound is fresh, all that will do is drag you down into a pit of despair and keep you there. Imagine you had a really good couple of weeks, not letting yourself dwell too much, slowly but surely climbing out of said pit.. and then you decide to take a peek at some old photos of you together and it knocks you right back down. Someday you will be able to go through these memories and appreciate the wonderful times you had, not a tear in sight, but until that day, pack ‘em away.
10. Remember everything will be okay
I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, and the truth is it might not feel like it for quite a while. So take this time to just be with yourself. Enjoy your own company. Try not to dwell on the past, or worry about the future. All you have is now, so make the most of it and learn to find peace, and yes, even love, right here – within yourself.
What makes you feel better after a break up? I’m curious about your process and how it may differ to mine.
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