Five Practical Activities that Helped Me Through my Breakup
Hey, guess what? Breakups really suck, and depending on the length, severity and amount of crockery shared with your ex, they can be huge stumbling blocks in the smoothness of your life. There’s all sorts of trauma that you have to go through, disregarding the obvious and extreme emotional factors – there’s also financial and practical issues, such as suddenly becoming mildly homeless, or having to shell out a bunch of money to shift your mugs to your mum’s garage. Basically, breakups are terrible, but here are some things that helped me get through the horror.
#1 Take some time to not be OK
One of the first things you need to do to help you get through your breakup is understand that you don’t need to get through your breakup. There’s no huge imperative for you to be fine, as much as you or some lousy friends might want you to be. This is something bystanders can struggle with, as though they’re trying to fast-forward you through the breakup timeline – “you’ll be FINE” people say, as if everyone is waiting for that day with baited breath. Maybe you won’t be fine, but much more likely you will, given time. And that’s nobody’s concern but your own, so locking away a couple of weeks to be indescribably sad and not OK is something you should feel free to do.
#2 Do some things to make you happy
It’s weird, but sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to do really fun things, and let’s just establish right now that a break up is all the permission you need. I’m not even going to pretend to know what it is that makes normal people happy – discotheques? Riding the merry-go-round? Tax evasion? For me it was swimming a lot and watching true crime documentaries, and I probably did much more of those two things than is generally recommended. But, it’s not a normal time! Everything is horrible! Might as well do something that brings you some form of joy, in this worst of times. It probably won’t be all encompassing joy, and it might even be best described as ‘sour glee at other’s misfortune’, but the point is that it’s an extraordinary period of unhappiness, and there are no rules – except the ones I’m creating now.
#3 See other people
It might be tempting to curl up into a ball and stay sad and unlovable in your stinking hovel, and while I certainly support doing that as much as you feel like, remember that friends also exist. It’s easy to get lost in a bad kind of isolation when you go through a breakup, and start to feel both alone and lonely. Luckily, you probably have friends, and those friends usually want to help you out, and sometimes don’t know the best way of doing that. If this doesn’t sound like your friends, that’s a separate article, which I will call ‘Get New Friends’. So don’t be afraid to either respond to the people who are reaching out to you, on your own terms – i.e. ‘yes I would like to see you, but only in the paintball arena’, or reach out yourself. Tell the people who love you that you need to go and drink cheap whiskey on a Monday night.
#4 Challenge yourself
This one isn’t for everyone, and could in fact be the opposite of the right idea for you – but it could also be brilliant. Sometimes after a breakup, your ego and self esteem has taken a terrible beating, due to someone deciding that you are unlovable. No biggy. Sometimes the best way to build yourself back up again is by giving yourself a challenge! For me, this meant learning something new, and something outside of my own comfort zone. I know for other people; it’s been running a marathon or beating their personal score at the fitness activity of their choice. A challenge could be anything – it could be going to a social occasion that has always intimidated you, for example. The point is, you want to feel better about yourself having done it, and that you have grown.
#5 Dream big and organise yourself
For better or worse, a breakup is a moment in time to pause and reflect on where you are in your life. You might discover that you suddenly have a lot of previously unthinkable opportunities, or you might simply discover that you are displeased with some aspects of your life. Now is the time to work towards changing things. For me, I discovered that I had lost a lot of the tethers that bound me to my career and how I lived. I realised that if I wanted to, I could move overseas or find a new job or raise goats on a mountain. The future was horrifyingly free. But taking this (admittedly awful) moment to think about your goals and dreams is a fantastic opportunity, and one that could result in fantastic things, and perhaps, make it all seem worth it in hindsight.
Patrick Lenton is a writer and digital marketer. He runs Town Crier, a social media and marketing consultancy for authors.