Only someone who goes through a breakup knows how much the loneliness hurts, even more than the sadness.
You miss them in countless little and big ways. Even things unrelated to your relationship remind you of them. Everything out there seems to make you cry out unpredictably, even if only on the inside.
The seemingly helpful advice of your friends starts to sound meaningless. You want to tell them that your sadness at losing them is uniquely yours. After all, you did lose a part of yourself along with them.
At some point, you understand that replacing the person with things and activities cannot erase them from your past.
And then you realize that your past with them has shaped a large part of who you are and who you will become.
How do I get over my loneliness after a breakup?
Take a small break from familiar surroundings and let yourself feel the sadness of the breakup. Do things you loved to do before you knew them. Avoid seeking solace in a rebound relationship and instead, immerse yourself in songs and stories of survival, optimism, and resilience.
How long is too long to be sad after a breakup?
There is no set time limit for overcoming grief after a breakup. People may take several weeks or even years to pull through. Some estimates say that it takes an average of six weeks to recover from a breakup; however, relationships that lasted longer may take longer.
5 Perfectly Healthy Ways to Deal With A Breakup Alone
Breakups are hard. There is no one perfect way to handle a breakup, and your response to the loss and time to heal will always be as unique as you are.
How to deal with a breakup is mostly about letting yourself feel the difficult emotions of emptiness and loneliness and helping yourself heal.
These insights here are helpful recommendations based on science. Try them out. More importantly, let them nudge you into finding and doing what works best for you.
Here’s a list of 5 perfectly healthy ways to deal with the emptiness of a breakup:
1, Take a slow walk through a forested area.
Large trees have a scientifically proven healing effect. They release phytoncides (wood essential oils) into the air – chemicals that, when we breathe in, produce many healthful effects.
A walk in the forest can reduce depression, anxiety, stress, and anger (Kotera, et al., 2020). It also enhances relaxation, gratitude, and selflessness (Pritchard et al., 2019).
It also promotes the health of our hearts and lungs, as well as boosts our immunity (Williams, 2016). A research team led by Qing Li found that phytoncides enhance human Natural Killer cell activity and anti-cancer proteins.
Take a walk among the giant trees, as they are waking up in the mornings.
You don’t need to walk fast; instead, a slow, mindful stroll does the trick. Spend around 20-30 minutes focusing on the forest, like different colors of leaves, the sounds of streams, or the warmth of sunshine beaming between leaves.
The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”), a term they coined in 1982.
Research shows that shinrin yoku lowers the concentrations of cortisol (“stress hormone”), raises our heart rate variability (which is a good thing!), and stimulates our vagus nerve system (that directly relaxes our organs).
All these together relax the forest walkers more than the city walkers.
To reap its benefits, even when too weary to take a walk, go to a forested area and just sit there, inhaling the phytoncides.
2. Write down your experience and emotions.
You can write Self-compassion Letters and start keeping a Gratitude Journal.
Self-compassion is the opposite of self-criticism and is defined as the acceptance of your vulnerability and imperfection with kindness to yourself.
Writing a self-compassion letter can seem daunting, but here’s how you can do it step-by-step:
- To begin, pick one thing about yourself that makes you feel shameful, vulnerable, or inadequate. It may be something about your personality, behavior, skills, relationship breakups, or anything else in your life.
- Then sit down and describe in depth how the thing makes you feel. Label your emotions as they come. Is it sadness, anxiety, shame, rage, or something else. Write with honesty and openness, since you are writing for a private audience of one, and that’s you.
- Next, write a letter to yourself expressing compassion, empathy, and acceptance toward yourself for the stressful experience you previously wrote about.
- For example, “You feel ashamed. It’s a moment of suffering. But suffering is a natural part of human life. Everyone goes through it at some point. You’re strong enough to accept yourself with your past mistakes. Place a hand over your heart and show yourself the love and kindness you deserve, my friend.“
- After you’ve finished writing the letter, keep it away for a time. Then go back and read it again later.
Writing a gratitude journal can make you happier, help you sleep better, and even ease the symptoms of physical pain. In this, you record in a personal or public journal what you are thankful for. It could be an opportunity, a scene, an event, or a person.
For example, “I am grateful for having Jane in my life for she always reminds me to eat and sleep on time.”
For more, here’s the shortest guide on the Three Good Things journal practice.
Writing to help yourself heal is called Writing Therapy. Like bibliotherapy (which means read to heal), writing therapy has found a place in several Positive Psychology Interventions as a useful tool to promote psychological well-being.
Writing therapy can be defined as a process of investigating personal thoughts and feelings through the act of writing, with the goal of promoting self-healing and personal growth.
Writing therapy is using writing to reflect on and express yourself, whether you do it by yourself or it is guided by your therapist. It can help heal your past traumas (Pennebaker, 1986), in addition to having beneficial effects on physical and psychological health (Nicholls, 2009).
Some common methods of writing therapy are expressive writing (learn how to do it from our easy guide here), guided autobiography, and logotherapy.
Writing therapy can promote forgiveness, gratitude, optimism, and wisdom.
3. Practice The Stoic Technique of Amor Fati.
Amor Fati is the process of accepting and embracing what has happened and is happening, and loving life as it is.
When you practice amor fati, you accept your breakup. Then you take steps to change your future.
If that seems hard, let the words of the holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl inspire you:
“You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”
The term “amor fati” came from Nietzsche, meaning the love of fate, even in the face of a possible return to the same conditions we are living with right now.
Nietzsche believed that we should accept responsibility for our values and well-being and learn to overcome and surpass ourselves. To do so, we must summon the strength to boldly affirm our fate and love it no matter what.
Amor fati is the insight that change is the very nature of the universe, and that humans would not exist without it, replacing millions of pre-human ancestors. Without change, we would not have flown in the emotions of joy, laughter, sadness, and love, in our relationships.
Though the term amor fati came in 1882, its concept of “willing acceptance” has existed since the times of the ancient Roman Stoics, mainly Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius.
“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.” — Marcus Aurelius
4. Make time for exercise throughout your day.
Exercising has well-researched benefits, both in the short term and in the long term. A surprisingly helpful finding is this: when it’s an exercise that you love doing, it can even bring down your anger.
Exercise reduces your stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It also improves your sleep and well-being. All these help you heal faster.
Exercising can be a challenge, and you may not know why can’t you get to it. Here is a nifty downloadable guide to help you get into a habit of daily exercise.
Some practical tips to make time for exercise:
- Write down what are the barriers that stop you from exercising (like, being tired all the time, feeling unmotivated, too busy to have time, or it is costly to join a gym). Then seek professional help (from a coach or a counselor) to solve them.
- Always remember that you can start right now, wherever you are. Say, what’s stopping you from getting up and stretching out right now?
- You can start slow, like practicing a gentle yoga posture, or move your hands and feet like in a slow dance. Read this Positive Movement Guide For Flourishing Lives.
- You can do it for just 1 minute at a time, take a rest, then do it for 1 minute again.
Some other ways to work your muscles throughout the day are taking 1-2 flights of stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, getting up and stretching, or doing a plank every 30 minutes of sitting, and dribbling a ball while watching a show on your mobile or TV.
5. Take yourself out on a solo date.
A solo date affirms your love for yourself. And when you love yourself, you respect and trust yourself more, honor your commitments and self-worth, and are a better friend and partner of yourself.
- Plan your solo dates to engage in an activity that relaxes and entertains you, or pushes you a little outside your comfort zone for an adrenaline surge.
- Don’t be self-conscious on your solo date. You may have the habit of imagining that people are focused on you and closely watching your activities (called the spotlight effect). In truth, they are the least bothered about you.
- If you find you’re not enjoying the activity, try another one the next time. In any case, trying something new every time is a refreshing approach.
Some ideas: Spend a day at a coffee shop reading a long missed book. Be a tourist in your city. Go to a museum or art gallery.
Spend a day beautifying your dining place, get dressed up for dinner, and order in your most liked foods.
Pick up activities from your bucket list (like paragliding or rock climbing) and go for it.
Start small before taking yourself out on more elaborate solo dates.
Breakups hurt, whether they ended on an amicable or a toxic note. Moreover, each breakup is different.
Still, what hurts the most is the massive withdrawal symptoms, like those felt by an addict when separated from their drug, causing loneliness, emptiness, and helplessness.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to not fight or suppress the difficult and negative emotions.
Get yourself ready to bounce back to your normal self in little steps, at your own pace.
Takeaway: It’s okay to take your time, however short or long. You don’t have to make long-term plans; just take one day at a time. If it feels like fun, go ahead and enjoy it; no one has stopped you from having fun.
• • •
Breakups are lonely times. Some go on a solitary stay to process and overcome their hurt. Afterward, they may struggle to return to the outside world. So, how you can escape loneliness after a period of forced solitude?
• • •
Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, mindfulness, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
√ If you enjoyed this, please share it on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn.