We see it in TV and movies all the time; after the protagonist breaks up with their significant other, they pick up a bottle, eat a ton of junk food, and sometimes even engage in completely reckless activities. For many people, the same thing happens in real life—they fall into bad habits as a way to struggle with the loss of their relationship, and it can either go up or down from there.
Naturally, breaking up with someone is a difficult thing to go through—the fallout even more so. However, it shouldn’t be the spark to the beginning of a downward spiral full of poor and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Instead, use it as an opportunity to reconnect with yourself, build healthier habits, and find better ways to cope like:
1. Take a break
Allow yourself to be less productive while you are going through the aftermath of your breakup. After all, you’re only human, and it’s only natural not to want to do much of anything while you are busy processing the many emotions you are going through. So, take a breather. Pass on social events that you don’t feel like going to, skip the gym if you don’t feel like working out, and give yourself permission to take it easy at work. Take as much time as you need to process, heal, and regroup.
2. Avoid junk food
The temptation to reach for a bag of chips or a giant bar of chocolate is strong when you’re upset. Junk food is, after all, often called comfort food for a reason. They make you feel good—may even make you feel less sad for a while—but that feeling may not last.
Several studies suggest that people with poor diets (high in sweets, fried food, processed meats, refined carbohydrates, etc.) are more likely to develop depression. That means that an unhealthy diet can contribute to the negative emotions you’re feeling after a breakup—as well as increase your stress levels. Furthermore, junk food can make you feel lethargic, which is not something that you need when you’re already feeling less productive.
That said, try to eat a healthy diet as much as possible. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins while drinking plenty of water. Of course, it’s okay to visit an ice cream store or your comfort restaurant once in a while. But remember to do your best to avoid going overboard.
3. Avoid alcohol and other vices
Just like food, it is highly tempting to indulge in alcohol, cigarettes, and even illicit drugs to help you get over a traumatic split. But while they may make you feel better at times, these vices will do nothing good for your health and, more importantly, will not take away the fact that you still have to process your emotions. In fact, they may even delay your healing process by constantly distracting you from how you’re feeling.
With that in mind, avoid alcohol and other vices as much as possible. If you must drink, do it with someone you trust to stop you from drinking too much.
4. Talk about it
It may seem redundant, but talking about your feelings is truly one of the best ways to heal after a breakup. There are so many emotions that one goes through during this time—anger, frustration, loneliness, uncertainty—and talking about them helps you process each one while feeling less overwhelmed.
Sit down with a friend. Talk to a therapist. Vent to your pet if you have to. It’s no use to push down your emotions and refuse to talk about them if it will only cause you more emotional harm in the future.
5. Exercise (but don’t overdo it)
You may think that being in your best shape is the best way to get back at an ex, but this type of mindset can reinforce unhealthy relationships with food and exercise and may even lead to an eating disorder. If you’re going to get in shape, do it for yourself, not for an ex-partner or anyone else.
Engaging in regular physical activity is a great way to lower your stress levels, improve your mood, and distract you from negative thoughts. And, of course, there is a primary benefit of helping you achieve or maintain a healthy physique.
Instead of falling into a cycle of bad habits that do nothing good for your physical or mental health, try these methods of coping with the situation. While it’s okay to feel every negative human emotion possible at this time, don’t yourself become a lesser priority.