The start of a new year is generally a time for reflection. People often take this opportunity to reevaluate all aspects of their lives, including whether their relationships are healthy and fulfilling. As a result, January has not only become known as breakup month, but the first Monday after New Year’s Day is notoriously called ‘Divorce Day’.
A divorce or breakup can be one of the most stressful and emotional experiences in life. Whether caused by the ‘usual suspects’ – unresolved conflict, unmet expectations, fundamental incompatibilities, or a lack of trust – or the stress and expense of the festive season, many people see January as the opportunity for a fresh start.
Whatever the reason for the split, and whether you are the dumper or the dumpee, the end of a relationship can turn your world upside down and trigger painful and unsettling emotions, including grief, rejection, betrayal, guilt, and loss. After all, even in the most amicable situations, it signals an ending – not just of a significant and powerful bond, but also of your dreams and hopes for the future.
If your relationship ended this month, here are some helpful tips for healing from heartbreak:
1. Don’t fight your feelings: Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your difficult feelings. It is perfectly normal to feel extreme anger, anxiety, sadness and frustration. Although painful, it is important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. No matter the circumstances of your split, your feelings are valid, and you need to process them.
2. Take care of yourself: Divorce or a breakup is a highly stressful, life-altering event, which is why it is essential to take care of yourself. The strain and turmoil of your relationship ending can leave you psychologically and physically vulnerable. Give yourself permission to feel and function at less than your best while you heal.
3. Censor social media: Tempting as it may be to satisfy your curiosity about what your ex is getting up to, seeing pictures of them having a fun time may be triggering and could affect your healing.
4. Stay connected: Isolating yourself can increase your stress levels, reduce your focus, and get in the way of your daily functioning. Try to distract yourself as much as possible by making plans with family and friends, especially those who make you feel heard. If you are concerned about being judged, criticised or that you need a trusting space, seek professional help.
5. Let go of ‘what ifs’: You will feel liberated when you express your feelings, but do not get stuck on negative feelings for too long and resist the urge to obsess over what went wrong. Staying trapped in hurtful feelings like resentment, anger, and blame will rob you of the energy you need to move forward.
6. Avoid making major decisions: Try not to make any big decisions, such as quitting your job or moving to a new city, immediately after a divorce or breakup. It’s best to wait until you are feeling less emotional so that you can make major life decisions with a clear head.
7. Rediscover yourself: Relationships often shape us, and our sense of identity can get tangled up with that of our partner. This can lead to feelings of loss and confusion when the relationship ends. Reflecting on who you are without your ex is a crucial step in moving on. Use the opportunity to rediscover yourself and to explore new activities and interests.
8. Avoid destructive coping mechanisms: When you are in the middle of a divorce or breakup, you may do anything to numb your pain. But turning to alcohol, drugs or food as an escape is destructive, so try to find healthier ways to cope.
9. Know the difference between sadness and depression: Grief can initially be paralysing, but after some time the sadness will begin to lift. However, if you are feeling increasingly hopeless about your future, disinterested in life in general, or suicidal, you may be suffering from depression. In this case, please seek professional help.
10. Try therapy: Traumatic life events such as a divorce or breakup impact people in diverse ways. While many won’t develop serious behavioural or emotional problems, that is not the case for everyone. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that addresses certain mental and emotional needs of those who are having a tough time overcoming the damaging effects of life-changing events. Speaking to professionals, such as the team at The Dawn Rehab can help you work through your loss in a safe, confidential and non-judging space while equipping you with the necessary skills to cope.
Recovering from a divorce or breakup is difficult. However, it is vital to remind yourself that you can and will get through this experience. As you mourn the loss of the future you once imagined, have faith that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace the old ones. But healing takes time, so you need to patient. You will emerge from this challenging time knowing yourself better and feeling stronger and wiser.
More information on dealing with the depression or trauma associated with a divorce or breakup can be found at https://thedawnrehab.com/.