By Annie Hollon
Whether it’s the unfortunate breakup, One Direction going on hiatus, or the loss of something near and dear to us: we’ve all had our fair share of broken hearts. Heartbreak comes in many forms and coping with its vicious symptoms is never an easy task. The most important thing in this situation is to find healthy coping methods that help shake off the negative emotions and push you in the right direction. If you have ever wondered how to help a friend whose heartbreak is seemingly incurable or wanted to patch yourself up after that emotional rollercoaster, let these next steps be your ultimate guide on how to prep for, deal with, and move past a broken heart.
Have a list of “feel good” things and stockpile
Unfortunately, weather radars can’t pick up a turbulent heartbreak on the horizon. But, like prepping for any natural disaster, you should always be prepared with ample supplies before the storm hits. Learn, and keep track of, the little things that “spark joy” and improve any day for you and your loved ones, so you can have them on hand in case of emergency. Whether that includes disgustingly cheesy rom-coms and equally cheesy pizzas, or hanging with your pals Ben and Jerry, having the supplies accessible and at the ready lets you be there for you or your friends when they need it most and can help ease some of that initial pain. Make a survival guide list in your phone and keep it close at hand. You never want to be caught unprepared, so grab the essentials you know can help in the healing process and get comfy.
Console and let yourself be consoled
Pent-up emotions will do you no good in the healing process. Let yourself cry or scream if you need to. Get those emotions out in the open. No one should feel the need to look like they’re keeping it together. For Katie, an exercise science major, her recent breakup led to her looking for the support of her trusted friends and family, seeking their support.
“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want to be a burden to people or have others go out of their way to do things for me,” she said. “In general, even before the break-up, I would enjoy getting lunch and coffee with friends. I’ve been doing that more so than normal because I feel that they should know because that was such a big part of my life.”
Find a friend or be the friend who will listen and reason with what you are feeling. If all else fails, trust the wisdom of those who have dealt with this long before you have: call your mom or mom-like figure and get some advice. Their words of wisdom and affirmations could inspire comfort and understanding, as well as some unconditional love and support, which is an added bonus.
When you reach out to console a friend, make sure you prioritize listening and being the voice of reason. With heightened emotions making everything seem out of whack, provide the logic. Empathy reigns supreme over blind allegiance, so an implied emphasis on those kinds of sentiments help rather than harm in the case of a broken heart.
“I wanted them to listen and empathize with me,” Katie said. “I wasn’t necessarily wanting them to side with me completely, because I know there are two sides to every situation and there is no ‘perfect side,’ but I really did appreciate a lot of what was said.”
Psychologist, Guy Winch, in his August 2018 article, “How to recover from Romantic Heartbreak,” emphasizes that time can’t be the only thing to heal a broken heart.
“[The] biggest mistake we make is that we go on “autopilot” and assume the only thing we can do to recover is give it time,” Winch said.
He later notes that while study after study reflect on many different elements of heartbreak, none of them mention the different voids that can form in the lives of the heartbroken individual. Winch mentions that since heartbreak is a form of loss, “finding ways to recognize these voids and fill them is an important task of recovery from heartbreak and one that is often neglected.”
Sharing is caring (just not online)
You may definitely have choice words about what happened, especially in the aftermath, but be wary of the words you use to talk about this situation. It’s easy to rant to the Twitterverse about your ex or that company that turned you down, but be mindful because you never know where they will turn up. Don’t act in haste and do something you will regret later and definitely don’t let your friends do the same. What goes around comes around, so that text rant you sent could make the rounds and reflect poorly on you.
Phillip Gables, an associate professor of psychology at The University of Alabama who studies emotional neuroscience, said that in the face of emotional trauma, such as a broken heart, your emotions can impede your judgement.
“You have strong emotional memory, so when you’re feeling down and sad for breaking up, your memories are kind of skewed to where you have trouble thinking about times when you were really happy or times where you weren’t feeling this sadness that you’re feeling right now,” Gables said.
Steer clear of your Twitter and Instagram pages and remember not to be spiteful on social media. While it may hurt now, a poor decision will hurt much worse in the long run. Take some inspiration from Marie Kondo and Ariana Grande, and rather than feel fury at this event, thank it for teaching you a lesson and let it go. It’s easier said than done, but this mentality can provide you structure and a means to move on with.
Indulge in the Sweet Nothings
Netflix and Hulu marathons have come to be socially acceptable and are one of the best ways to get out of your own head when coping with a broken heart. To be fully focused on a series takes you to a world away from this one, and that temporary escape can help you get through this. You have the classic feel-good show recommendations such as The Great British Bake-Off and Queer Eye, which are wholesome productions that swallow you in positive energy and exude tender affection. If you would rather keep yourself in stitches for hours on end beyond the traditional binge-worthy comedy shows, give more recent comedies such as Brooklyn Nine Nine and The Good Place a chance to raise your spirits.
Identifying with characters in similar situation may make it easier to recognize your own feelings and provide some comfort. For Katie, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel gave her someone to sympathize with, even if the title character’s methods were a bit unorthodox.
“Maybe it’s not the best thing to watch post-break up… but there’s a part of me that admired the route that she took and how independent and brave she was,” Katie said. “I admire her vulnerability and a part of me has been more vulnerable with my friends and people in general.”
If you would rather settle in for a couple of solid movie choices, right off the bat: avoid films that will only make you or your loved ones feel more down in the dumps. Sure, you may really love Marley and Me and The Notebook, but ask yourself if you really want to heighten your sadness and make it worse with these selections. If you know you can handle it, more power to you. Those who can’t, on the other hand, should consider diving into a childhood favorite, a comedy or intriguing documentary that will take you far, far away from your current problems. Whatever you choose, choose wisely and let yourself soak in the story on the screen and escape from your own for a while.
Don’t Sweat It, Sweat It Out
Falling into dangerous patterns in the aftermath of such emotional turbulence is as easy as skipping a workout one time. Whether you are a hard-core runner or a casual yogi, or even none of the above or inbetween, breaking your routine because you are emotionally indisposed will do you more harm than good in the long run.
“Exercise is phenomenal because you are making yourself healthier and happier by getting more exercise and releasing a lot of neurochemicals that can make you feel better,” Gables said.
Cardio-centered workouts such as running, swimming or yoga are great, but Gables recommends “killing two birds with one stone” and combining social interaction with exercise through intramural sports like basketball and soccer. Social interaction is crucial to the human experience and that withdrawal is not good for anyone.
If group, outdoor or exercise in general is not necessarily your thing, a little dance party never killed nobody and it may just be the solution for you. Dance and flail around your room, dorm or apartment to whatever helps you let go easiest. Have roommates looking to escape their own worries? Invite them in! The more, the merrier and the better you’ll feel once you’re worn out from throwing some wild shapes. Need some tune recommendations? Look no further and keep reading.
Turn It Up, Tune It Out
As part of your heartbreak survival guide, tune out the world and let the words of some of your favorite musicians guide your emotions rather than whatever is currently hurting. Adele, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift and so many more have been where you are and have turned it into music that you can vibe with and wallow in for a little while. Make a playlist for yourself or for a loved one full of songs about loss and hurt, but also about the growth that comes with that pain. Whether the songs are more “heavily cry your heart out” or “I hate you and anything that breathes in your direction,” curate and create a playlist that works for you and helps be the soundtrack of your journey.
If you lack the inspiration (or motivation) to make a playlist yourself, there are premade lists on different music-streaming platforms or if that doesn’t work, enjoy this playlist from yours truly.
Treat Yo Self and Get It Out of Your Hair — Literally
Change is difficult for anyone, but let this change spur a positive and bold change in you — or on you. Ever had the hesitant thought of chopping all your hair off, getting bangs or dying it hot pink, but never had the nerve to go through with it? This is your chance to flip a new page and redefine an era of your life with an #iconic look of your own. If the Great Chop of 2019 is not your cup of tea, experiment to a lesser degree with a bold new lipstick or eyeliner trick even more subtle.
If you take away anything from these tips, it should be that taking care of your mental and physical well-being should be at the forefront of helping you work through the emotions. This healing comes in all shapes and price points, whether it be a facemask made from scratch or finally making that impulse purchase you’ve been eyeing while online window shopping. The key is to make a decision based on what you can assess will positively impact your mood and help you get through this rough patch.
As much as we don’t want to feel or experience heartbreak, it’s inevitable and not here for one-night only. Remember: it’s supposed to hurt, that’s how you know it meant something. Your feelings matter and so do you and your loved ones: take care of one another and allow yourself to be in this moment in order to move forward. Don’t forget that this will all pass as time progresses and future you can look back on this experience as a learning curve and opportunity for growth. Change can hurt (a lot) but it is also beautiful and a welcome step on the path to becoming the person you want, and deserve, to be.