Coping With A Difficult Breakup


Let's be real– going through a breakup is emotionally taxing. There is no manual or exact “coping recipe” on how to heal from a deep relational loss. Healing timelines vary from person to person. For some, their timeline to heal and move on is quicker. They have already processed the end of the relationship before they officially part ways with their ex. For others, taking the time to grieve and reflect on this past relationship helps them process this ending. What works for one person, may not for another and that is completely normal. How one moves through and copes with a breakup is unique. The best thing you can do for yourself is let go of the specific timeline it takes to “get over” or heal from this relationship and focus on yourself. Healing can happen by being loyal to yourself. Loyalty could mean cultivating a strong support system, processing where you need to, grounding yourself in difficult moments, and giving yourself the gift of self-compassion.


Cultivate a strong support system


Cultivating a strong support system when you are in the period following a breakup can be deeply supportive. Having your loved ones around you can generate feelings of safety and also a source of positive distraction. It may seem difficult to rally a support system of individuals who understand how to hold space for you, but this is an essential piece of the healing process. Think about the people in your life who just get you. Who can you consistently rely on as a confidant, a person to share your struggles and the little moments of progress in moving through this season? Your support system could include your family members, friends, mentors, therapists, or coaches. These are the people in your life that will love you through it. Connecting with your support system over text, voice memos, facetime, or in IRL can soften any feelings of isolation. It can also go a long way in reducing irrational thoughts and sadness.


Process, process, process


Processing helps us work through our feelings. Working through our feelings means feeling all of them instead of avoiding the more difficult ones. Especially if you moved in with your ex at one point, it's best to process what happened between you and your ex as opposed to suppressing it. Loyalty in these moments can look like giving yourself the space to be angry, upset, unsure, or anxious. Allow yourself to feel ALL of your feelings. You can process these feelings alongside the comfort of your therapist, or also on your own time. Journaling, creating meaningful playlists, repeating healing mantras, or taking a hot shower can serve as ways to process whatever is coming up for you. Giving yourself permission to experience a wide array of emotions is an important step before working toward acceptance. Accepting the person for who they are, what role they played in your life, and who that person is to you today.


Grounding Strategies

In those moments that you feel stuck in an unhelpful headspace, grounding can serve as an adaptive coping strategy. One way to ground yourself in these moments could be to keep the focus on nurturing the relationship you have with yourself. You can attend to yourself by creating your own self-care schedule. Another way to utilize grounding techniques is mindful breathing or breathwork. Practicing mindful breathing is gently focusing attention on the breath. Notice your breath patterns and resist the urge to change your breathing in any way. This can serve as a healthy distraction. Mindful breathing also supports your mind-body connection, helping you come back to the present moment.


Self-compassion

Breakups are especially difficult when they involve the awkward logistics of moving out of a cohabitation space or home that you rented with your ex. These relationships take a long time to heal and process. If you have recently moved out of your ex’s place, giving yourself compassion is key. There is a proven healing power that comes with being kind to yourself. Making self-compassion a part of your daily routine looks like saying kind words to yourself in moments when your inner critic is loud.


If you want to process your breakup alongside a therapist, the psychologists at North Berkeley Counseling are here to support you. We see clients in our office in Berkeley, California, as well as online throughout California, Florida, Virginia, and Hawaii. Book your first session today!