You’ve lost someone and something (the relationship & the hopes you had for the future) that was important to you. And losing this is really, really painful.
It feels like grief, loss, sadness, pain and maybe shock, devastation or fear. You may also, at times, feel other emotions associated with the stages of grief, like anger and denial.
The feelings will be different for everyone, and will change from day to day, moment to moment.
But it’s not pleasant for anyone. It’s horrible. It leaves people hurting, wounded and wondering what can they do to start healing a broken heart after a relationship ends.
The heartbreak of a relationship ending is also isolating because no-one else feels the pain that you’re feeling.
Unlike when someone dies, when a relationship ends, you alone are the only one who has suffered the loss. The loss of the relationship, the person you loved, the good times you had, the future you had imagined and the love and connection you shared. These are real losses, and they need to be grieved.
The person you split from may or may not also feel the pain of loss, but even if they do, they’re not an appropriate person to seek comfort from.
So you may also feel terribly, terribly ALONE.
Even if you have support people around you, like friends, family and professionals like a counselor, ultimately YOU are the only one feeling the pain right now. And it feels awful. You don’t want it. You want this experience and these feelings to pass as soon as possible.
Is it just a matter of waiting for time to heal your wounds, or is there something more proactive you can do?
5 tips for healing a broken heart after a relationship ends
1. Let yourself feel and express your pain in healthy ways
A relationship ending is a big deal. Even if you weren’t married or living together. If you had become emotionally attached to someone and then you lose that, it’s really upsetting.
You’re allowed to be upset.
You don’t have to pretend everything’s good and it’s all for the best.
Yes… in the long run it probably is for the best… but right NOW you’ve just suffered a loss, and that comes with natural, normal, human emotions that you don’t need to brush aside or deny in the name of optimism.
You’ll get to genuine optimism sooner if you can take the time to honestly acknowledge and work through the emotions you have now.
There are a lot of emotions swirling through your body when you’ve just suffered a loss. They’re not pleasant. But they’re there. In the long run, it will be best for you if you can accept their existence and find healthy ways to work through them.
Denial and repression are band-aid solutions that won’t really release the pain.
There are many ways to express your emotions and heal a broken heart in healthy ways. We’ll look at some in more detail below, but to get you thinking of ideas, you could try these.
10 healthy ways to express emotions and heal a broken heart
- Sitting quietly while deep breathing and/or contemplating your feelings
- Walking or exercising to clear your head and shift emotions from your body
- Writing in a journal
- Singing or playing music
- Sleeping or quietly resting
- Crying, shouting, or punching a pillow in privacy
- Painting, drawing, or art therapy
- Talking with others
- Nurturing yourself
Do whatever feels right for you to identify your emotions and let them out in a healthy way.
At all times, remember to have compassion for yourself and that these emotions will pass.
2. Spend time alone
Sometimes it takes privacy to let your emotions come to the surface and be expressed.
Find ways to take time out from your regular routine and the over-stimulation of modern life. Make the space for your emotions to be felt, seen and expressed.
Give yourself the gift of your own time and attention.
Find a way to get time alone in whatever way it works for you.
Maybe you can get the house to yourself. If you have a family you might be able to get friends or family to take your kids for a while to give you some time to yourself.
Perhaps you need to go away from home to get some privacy. You could try going to a park, going for a walk, relaxing in a float tank, or going away for a few days.
Getting into nature is wonderful. The Japanese have a tradition called forest bathing which is shown to be therapeutic! You don’t actually bathe like you would at the beach… You just spend time in nature and soak in the atmosphere which helps you feel calmer and soothes your troubles. Try itself, and you’ll see.
Another opportunity for alone time can be in the car. If you are driving along, instead of having music or the radio on, have silence and allow yourself to feel the emotions that are in your body. If it feels right, and safe, let some of it out. Sigh. Cry. Shout. Scream. Talk to yourself out loud in a soothing voice. It might feel silly if you’ve never done this before. If you can get past your judgment and self-consciousness it can feel really cathartic to actually express your emotions aloud as they arise.
3. Talk to a counselor
Counselor’s are trained to listen to you and respond in helpful ways. They will help you identify emotions you may not be able to put a name to yourself, make you feel heard, and give you a chance to speak candidly with confidentiality assured.
Having someone else to talk to helps to take a little bit of the loneliness out of the breakup. Even though you are missing your ex-partner and the relationship you had, when there are others around who listen to you then you aren’t totally alone. It’s small. But it helps.
Having ongoing sessions with a counselor can be really helpful when it comes to learning how to find and keep good relationships. So if you haven’t yet got one you like, this could be a great opportunity to find a good one and take something positive out of the breakup experience.
Ongoing sessions with a counselor can help you learn the lessons you need to move forward in a positive way and improve your chance of love success in future.
Your friends and family, while well meaning, may or may not have the right skills for the task of attentive, reflective listening. And, may or may not be able to be objective about the situation. Having said that…
4. Talk to your friends and family
Talk to your friends and family about your breakup, even if it’s just to let them know at a basic level that you’re feeling down. If you let them know you’re sad because of a relationship ending it encourages them to give you extra support where and how they can.
Also, they won’t take it personally if you are acting distant, withdrawn or downcast for a little while.
Most adults have felt the pain of a relationship ending at some point in their life. So they can have some empathy and compassion for what you are going through right now.
Losing love is a universal human experience, and realizing this is another way to lesson the feelings of loneliness you have right now.
Some people will have really supportive friends and family… and if that’s you, you’ve lucked out. But that’s not the case for many people.
For many people, friends and family may not be the right people to share all the details of the breakup with. For some, your relationship with them might not be that close, or you prefer to keep this aspect of your life private, or maybe they might not be good at responding to people’s sad emotions in helpful ways.
Some people are better than others at providing emotional support. So if your family are not good at it, then you definitely want to refer to tip 1 and see a counselor.
Being able to talk to someone face to face is very healing. Right now you’re craving a human connection because you’ve just lost the person you used to have an emotional connection with. Find someone to talk to (who’s not your ex!) and let the feeling of being heard and cared for start to heal you.
If you’ve practiced meditation before, this will be a useful tool for you now. If meditation is a habit that’s lapsed, now might be the time to try it again.
Even if you don’t meditate habitually or daily, meditation is a great tool to have at difficult times in life. You can still get value out of meditation by using it on an ad hoc basis, when you feel a particular need for it. Being able to do it may come easier to you, if it’s something you’ve done before.
There are different styles of meditation, but generally they will all help you to practice the skills of accepting your emotions and letting them pass. This is exactly the time in life you need this skill! You’ll have many, many emotions and sometimes it may feel overwhelming. Meditation is a way of sitting with your emotions and body sensations and learning to not be overwhelmed, overly attached or overly identified with them.
Meditation can help you feel the physical sensations involved with a particular emotion. This can help you identify what it is you’re actually feeling. It can lead to many insights about yourself, your habits, your thinking and more.
If you’ve never done meditation before but your instinct tells you this might be helpful for you, you could try to learn on your own with a book, or app. It can be particularly helpful to find a local meditation group because, as well as learning a valuable skill, a group helps you to have connection to other people and a sense of community.
Bonus tip: Treat yourself with self love
Right now you’re hurting. And the person you once relied on to help you feel better is not able to help you feel better right now.
If you need to start healing a broken heart after a relationship ends, now is the time to practice self care and self love in a big way.
We have plenty more articles and ideas about how to practice self love, so if you need encouragement check them out for ideas and motivation.