Breaking up is hard to do, even under the best of circumstances. And it’s even more difficult when it’s a bad breakup because there are no instruction manuals to help you navigate the roads to recovery. Fortunately, you don’t need a manual if you have a posse of amazing friends to help you out. I sat down with three of my best girlfriends to get the scoop on how to bounce back from a bad breakup. Here is the advice they gave me:
Step One: Let it All Out
You’ve been through the ringer, girl. But the worst thing you could do for yourself right now is to hold it all in. Give yourself permission to cry it out. Make sure that you are in a safe space, and before you reach out to a close confidante, make sure that you process through a little of the raw emotion. That means you, a box of kleenex, and maybe your favorite stuffed animal. Hold nothing back: wallow in it for as long as you need to before you’re cogent enough to move on to step 2.
Step Two: Phone a Friend
It’s vital, however, not to wallow on your own for too long! Make sure that you reach out to your support network, whether that means your mom, your best friend, or your therapist. People love you and want to be there for you, so let them. And don’t worry about judgment: We’ve all been there, and your friends will likely have some keen insights into how to heal these wounds that you might not have thought of on your own.
Step Three: Treat Yourself
Life goes on, and there are so many wonderful things to enjoy. So pick out some of your favorite things, and indulge in them. Splurge a little — do something you love doing, eat some of your favorite food, buy yourself a new dress, take yourself out of town for the weekend. Whatever it is, indulge in it, and do it guilt-free. This is particularly true of things that maybe your ex didn’t love to do, that maybe you let fall by the wayside during your relationship. This happens in any pairing, so now is the perfect time to get back to those things on your own.
Step Four: But Treat Yourself Well
Exercise is key, not only to stay in good physical shape, for helping you to release endorphins and other happy-making chemicals into your system. Indulge in junk food, but make sure you’re also getting the nutrients you need to feel good in your skin. Also, make sure to get plenty of sleep! This isn’t about getting in shape so when you’re back on the prowl, your ex will see how amazing you look with the next person. No, this is about really taking care of yourself, keeping active, and staying healthy.
Step Five: Find a New Hobby
What is something that you’ve never done, but you’ve always wanted to do? Take a class, learn a language, travel to a new location? Whatever it is, now is the time to try it. Oftentimes if you have been in a long relationship, all of your activities are wrapped up in that person. Now is the time to strike out on your own.
Step Six: Self-Reflection
Once you feel ready, it would behoove you to examine what led your relationship down the road to its ultimate end. This is not about placing blame or beating yourself up, this is about taking a good, long look at what happened and how you may or may not have contributed it to it. That way you can learn from any mistakes you made so you don’t repeat habits in the future.
Step Seven: Self-Discovery
A relationship is not supposed to make you whole. You are a whole person all by yourself. You will never find love and happiness with someone else if you don’t first love yourself, and if you are not first happy on your own.
Step Eight: Get Back Out There
This isn’t about finding someone to replace your ex, but it is about finding the courage to get back out into the dating world. Go out there and have fun making new friends and exploring new flames. You’ll realize there are so many people out there with whom you can be happy, and once you realize that, you’ll know you’re really over that bad breakup.