4 Ways to Heal from Heartbreak

By Ashley Barnes

Perhaps one of the most impactful and profound experiences of young adulthood is our first heartbreak or break up. The pain is certainly emotional in nature but can also show up somatically, hence people describing break ups as resulting in a “broken heart.” The pain is undeniable and valid, especially when considering the time, energy, and meaning that is placed on our first serious relationships.

For many, the first serious heartbreak occurs as a result of college. Relationships may end due to partners being far away from each other at different schools. Some couples may strive to make long-distance relationships work despite this, but find that it is too difficult and ultimately part. Others may go to the same school but end up breaking up. We may meet a partner at school, date for a while, and then things may not work out; after breaking up, we may still see them around campus or find out that they are dating other people. 

There are many “what-ifs,” and it must be acknowledged that there are some couples that make their relationships work, even despite difficult circumstances like distance. The point is: many of us will experience heartbreak and it will be painful. Though it may feel that the world is crumbling down all around you and that you may never find happiness or this kind of love again, such experiences are actually one of the most transformative growth opportunities. The following are some tips on how to heal from a heartbreak:

Limit exposure.

It can be tempting to inquire about what our ex-partner is doing post-break up. We may feel the urge to contact them or scan social media profiles; oftentimes this only results in more hurt. If we don’t feel ready to completely block our ex-partner’s number or social media profiles, we can start by muting their social media profiles. Muting a profile makes it so that their posts and notifications don’t show up on our social media feeds. The purpose of this is to allow us to focus more on taking care of ourselves in light of a painful experience instead of focusing our time and energy on finding out what our ex-partner is up to. 

Lean on support groups.

One of the best ways to move through the pain of a heartbreak is to lean on support systems. Call, Facetime, or text friends near and far. Contact family members. Make a conscious effort not to isolate during this time, as though we may feel depressed and unmotivated to do much, secluding ourselves can end up stunting our healing process. Express to your trusted friends and loved ones that you are going through a difficult time and accept the support that they give you.

Spend time with friends, even if you are just studying together. Even the mere presence of a loved one during a difficult time can help us feel less alone in our experience. Further, it is very likely that loved ones in our lives have gone through similar experiences of having loved and lost, meaning they may be able to understand the situation and inspire us through sharing their own stories of resilience. 

Process the grief.

Talking about grief and sadness with loved ones can be helpful and make us feel supported, but we may still be in need of professional help. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to someone more objective, someone who doesn’t have preconceived opinions or “buy-ins” to our lives.

Psychotherapists can help us work through our pain in a way that allows us to get in touch with our emotions, process them, and find healthy ways to cope. Psychotherapists can help us find our own purpose and meaning after the break up as part of the healing process. We may start to experience symptoms that are hard to manage such as profound sadness, weight and appetite changes, trouble sleeping, and irritability that impact our daily lives; these are symptoms of depression. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications that combat depression symptoms in a way that makes them easier to manage and cope with.

Connect with yourself.

Post-break up or heartbreak is one of the best times to reconnect with ourselves. Focusing on self care is crucial during this time and there are many ways to do so. Making sure we get adequate sleep, incorporating some movement into our routines (whether that is walking to class or going to the gym), maintaining strong connections with our support network, eating nurturing food, and making time to engage in activities that bring us joy are just a few ways we can care for ourselves in a sensitive, loving way.

One can view the implementation of self-care as the way we would treat a good friend if they were going through heartbreak, only directing that tender care towards ourselves. When we begin to heal, we realize that we are capable of navigating heartbreak even though it is painful; as a result, we grow as people and gain emotional resilience. Remember that we are all worthy of love. Though this one relationship may have not worked out, we still haven’t met all the people who will love us throughout the course of our lives. We hope that readers can find some comfort in that!

Here at the Mental Health Center, we have compassionate psychiatrists and therapists who want to help you heal;  please contact us to book an appointment today.