Getting over a breakup starts with these 7 lessons in self-care

When I broke up with my high school sweetheart, Greg, this past year, I was a college senior. Most teenage romances end in their senior year of high school, but we lasted—through graduation, the dreaded pre-college summer, and even through 4 years of ups and downs during college. We finally broke up in our final year of college. Greg was attending the University of Texas, while I was getting my degree through an online court reporting school, but we were living in the same city. I guess we just realized we’d simply grown apart and wanted different things out of life. I wanted to find a good job in Houston and settle down and have a family—while Greg had ambitions of moving to New York to get a job on Wall Street. Finally, we had to face the facts: after 6 years of being the “perfect couple”; we just didn’t fit anymore.

At first I was devastated. I spent the first month walking around crying myself to sleep at night, and rising to go about my routine like a red-eyed zombie during daylight hours. My closest friends told me to just “get over it” or to just “put myself out there” to meet someone else…advice I myself have given other friends going through breakups. But suddenly, when it was happening to me, it felt like no one else on earth could ever understand what I was going through.

college breakupIt’s been a full year now, and I made it through the healing process just fine. However, it took me some time before I gave myself permission to feel the stress, the sadness and mourn my relationship with Greg. Now I stand a survivor of a college break up who would like to share my advice for healing with you.

If you are managing the stress of a college breakup, here are 7 lessons in self-care that you can practice in order to lessen the pain and work though the healing process:

1. Don’t be afraid to be sad

Sharing your feelings with a close, personal friend is a very cathartic experience, and it helps to know that you have support from people who love you. Talk about your feelings with someone you trust, give yourself permission to have a good cry on the shoulder of a comforting parent or sibling. You don’t have to divulge the whole sob story to everyone on your Facebook profile, but speaking with a member of the same sex—be it a friend, family member or even a counselor is a cathartic experience.

2. Get your feelings out

Again, give yourself permission to be angry if you were mistreated, happy over the good times you had with your partner, sad over the ended relationship. Don’t be afraid to cry. Breakups are tough—regardless of if you don’t see your ex-partner anymore of if you need to adapt to seeing them in social situations. So letting go of your raw emotions can be a big help. If you’re not comfortable being emotional in front of others, it’s important to find a private place where you can feel comfortable and get your feelings out, for example, see a therapist, cry in the shower or cry on the shoulder of your best friend.

3. Give yourself the gift of time

When we experience a loss—be it our pet dog or a loved one—it takes time for the sadness to dissipate. You may think you won’t ever feel happy again, but you know you will heal with time—everyone does. So give yourself the gift of time by being patient with your healing process, regardless of if you need a couple of days, a couple of weeks or even a couple of months.

4. Practice self-love

Don’t get swallowed up in the negative by blaming yourself for the breaking with accusations like, “I just wasn’t good enough for my partner”. Instead practice some self-love by focusing on what you have to offer. If you find yourself unable to stay positive, tell your friends your feeling down and they will remind you how great you are.

5. Practice self-care

Healing a broken heart is a stressful time, but it’s no reason to neglect your health. Take this time to rejuvenate your heart and the rest of your body as well. Get lots of beauty sleep, eat healthy foods, and get 30-minutes of exercise every day. These acts of self-care will help minimize stress, curb depression and boost your confidence too.

6. Have some fun

Life is not over when you experience a breakup. You existed apart from your partner previous to the relationship and you will exist separately afterwards as well. Take this time to be a little selfish and do things that you enjoy. Go for a massage or a pedicure (yes even guys), get a new haircut, go shopping, see a movie, or take part in healthy activities that take your mind off the negative feelings until you get back in the swing of things.

7. Keep busy

This shouldn’t be hard if you’re still at college or starting a new job. However, sometimes we get in a rut when we let sadness and grief take over. Instead, stay busy by joining a sports team, redecorate your bedroom or go out with friends you haven’t seen in a while. That’s not to say that you should ignore your breakup and the feelings associated with it, but learning to live without your partner will take some getting used to and staying busy helps you focus on the good things in your life.