You thought your relationship was going to last a lifetime. You fought long and hard but it still ended, and now you are left with a heart shattered in a million pieces.
Heartbreak pain is different than breaking a limb. It’s an invisible, continuous throbbing from the inside that no one else can truly understand because it’s intimately personal to you alone.
So rather than depending on others to help you, it’s a time in your life when you have to simply be your own best friend. I advise those I coach to take care of their own heart first. It’s one of the most important survival methods I learned when going through this experience myself.
Here are some must-do heartbreak cures that may help you through this difficult time:
1. Put your heart in a cast as you would a broken arm
Give yourself time. Recognize that the very core of who you are, your heart, is broken and you must let it heal. Just as you wouldn’t go run a marathon on a broken leg, don’t think that your heart is ready to jump into another relationship immediately. A general guideline for healing is one year for every four you were committed. Purposely letting yourself do this may lessen that time.
2. Be patient with your up and down moments
When we go through a traumatic event, it’s normal to have emotions that bounce up and down. One moment you may feel as if you are getting better, only to have something happen that will trigger the blues again. Expect this. As you focus on healing, you will find the good moments extending longer and longer.
3. Feed yourself good food even if you don’t feel like eating
You are a well-oiled machine that needs fuel to operate at its maximum. Some nights you will cry and eat ice cream, but for the most part, do your best to put yourself on automatic pilot for meals and choose good food. Your brain needs this as it’s working overtime right now to keep you in balance.
4. Take mini adventures – find new places and ways of doing things
What you don’t need are a lot of reminders of your ex. So begin carving out some new habits and make it interesting. Shop at a grocery store you have hardly ever been to (you may find some new ideas for eating well). Take a new route to work. Eat at new restaurants, try a new coffee flavor. It can be fun and you may discover some eye-opening preferences you didn’t know you had.
5. Allow yourself to work out your anger positively
I discovered the treadmill when I went through a breakup. It was amazing for pounding off frustration. An added benefit was that I found myself in the best shape of my life. I joined a small gym, so it was conducive to meeting many people who were in the same situation as I was. I made some good friends there. This was much better (and less humiliating) than drinking myself into oblivion and then having to recover from that as well.
6. Find a way to help yourself sleep
Breakups are often not compatible with sleeping the whole night through. After a couple of hours – if you can fall asleep – you jerk awake and the pain hits you in the stomach again as memories come crashing in. You need your sleep just as you need good food. So if you must go to a physician and ask for help, do that. If that treadmill helps exhaust you so you can rest, do that too. Your sleep patterns will get better as your heart heals.
7. Realize that you have been through a loss and you need to grieve
If you had lost your spouse to death, you would let yourself grieve. We don’t tend to view breakups the same way. Separation can be worse than a death as the one you loved still lives and breathes and may have the power to continue hurting you, or you might have to watch them with someone else. So realize that you are facing the death of your lost dreams, the comfort of the love you once had, and the future you thought you were going to have.
The same stages of grief will affect you: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Bouncing back and forth between these is normal. Be tender with yourself. Learn how to go through them and you will be amazed at the difference in your healing.
8. Give yourself permission to do some wild and crazy things you wouldn’t have tried before
Whether or not you chose to leave your relationship, this has now become your opportunity to become more ‘you’ than you ever have before. So cross over the boundaries of your comfort zones and find some new experiences to try. Start with going out to a movie on a work night if you and your partner just didn’t do that. Try rock climbing. Learn to ski. Take swimming lessons. You will find yourself distracted and you may discover you have some interesting likes you didn’t know were part of who you are.
9. Become your own coach by starting a Strength Journal
In some way personal to you, celebrate what is working on this journey from heartbreak to happiness. I started what I called my “Strength Journal.” In it I would write quotes from books I read that helped me to stay positive. I would record insights I had and the results of personality tests I randomly took. It was a place for anything that made me feel stronger and revealed who I really was and where I wanted to go. Then, when I was feeling low, I would go back and review all these wonderful entries. It was the inspiration I often needed to keep going.
10. Revive your dreams
When you are consumed by the difficulty of a troubled relationship and then live through the shock of breaking up, your dreams are often what suffer. That is, if you were ever in touch with them in the first place. Again, this is your time. As you begin discovering who you are again, let your heart tell you what it is you have always wanted to do or to be.
Pain is amazing for drawing out the compassion in us if we let it. So as you heal, notice what your heart is saying. Did you always want to start a bed and breakfast? Do you have a yearning to protect the lost or innocent in some way?
Start small and build from there. Would purchasing a particular piece of furniture to go in that exact spot give you a sense of individuality and peace? Begin saving. Work step by step toward where you want to go.
You will heal.
You will find your life again and it will be richer and deeper than before if you take care of your broken heart now.
Many have traveled this road. What other suggestions do you have that may help others going through this? Have you got any great heartbreak cures? Share them in the comments below.