How to Cope the First Week of a Breakup
The first few days after a breakup are often the worst: Fraught with denial, anger and sadness, you may feel helpless and lost. There is no foolproof formula for overcoming the loss you are experiencing, because your situation is unique to you. However, proactive steps exist that you can take to feel better during that raw first week.
1 Give Yourself a Break
After a breakup, you may feel compelled to jump back into the dating game, throw yourself head-first into work or attack your favorite hobbies with gusto. However, overbooking yourself won't give you the time you need to heal -- and if you're unable to accomplish the tasks at hand, you may feel even worse, says the University of Texas article "Surviving a Breakup." Instead, give yourself permission to do the bare minimum at work or at home for a while. Scale back on the things that create pressure in your life: Reduce your social obligations, say "no" to the requests of family members or ease up on your weekly house cleaning regime.
2 Experience Emotion
Denying your emotions will only prolong your grieving process, so recognize when you're feeling something -- whether it's denial, anger, loneliness or something else -- and validate it. Try writing in a journal, singing or talking to someone who you know won't judge you or invalidate your emotions. However, avoid indulging in negative self-talk and don't resort to risky behavior or impulsive decisions. Instead, turn your longing or sadness into observation, says Kathy Sullivan's University of Wisconsin Oshkosh's article, "Coping With a Breakup." For example, what was positive about your relationship? What you would like to change for the future, and did you carry any patterns or problems into the ended relationship?
3 Find Structure
A simple routine in your daily life can work wonders in the days following a breakup, says Heetderks. Now is not the time to train for a marathon (unless you were already a runner), but set aside regular time for physical activity. Plan a self-care activity for each day, like taking a bath, walking your dog, meditating or watching a favorite movie with a friend. Reinstating a daily schedule will help you feel in control of your life, and will help ward off irregularities that can disturb your sleeping or eating habits.
4 Know the Warning Signs
Many people would be deemed clinically depressed during the first week following a breakup. You may have a change in appetite or sleep patterns, you may feel physical pain or have trouble concentrating, all of which are normal responses to loss, according to Jennifer Heetderks's University of California Riverside's article "Recovering from a Breakup." However, if these symptoms continue over a period of months or seriously interfere with your life, a counselor or psychologist can help you combat your depression with talk therapy or medication.