How long will it be before you can get through your daily routine without feeling the wave of pain sweep over you, without sensing that knot in the pit of your stomach, and without dwelling on what went wrong? If these are some of the questions you are asking yourself, you are not alone.
A broken heart can cause such an intense reaction that you may feel your life has been completely stripped of meaning. Jobs, hobbies, and friends may no longer hold any joy. In fact, some of us even experience physical pain with a tight chest, nervous stomach, or terrible insomnia. “Time heals all wounds” is something we have all heard over the years, but do you really have to wait for time to heal these wounds? Absolutely not. There are steps you can take to alleviate the pain you feel. These steps were developed by people who have endured the pain of a difficult break-up and sought a better way to heal.
Whether you are 22 or 62, the first step is to determine from which type of broken heart you currently suffer. That’s right – there are actually 4 different types of broken hearts. Several factors determine the type of broken heart you may be enduring right now including your relationship history, the type of relationship and the reasons for the break-up, among others. Once you know where your heart stands, you will receive customized healing advice.
Okay, so where should you start? Start with the first healing step – the survey – to see where you stand. Get an instant, on screen evaluation. The survey contains 16-questions and can be completed in about 2 minutes. If you’re ready to see which of the 4 types of broken heart you suffer from, then let’s go.
Ready? Take the Survey Go
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Break up. Split up. Separate. Divorce. Those verbs have pretty powerful, dramatic weight. They are vivid and active. They do damage—especially to the heart. A broken heart feels heavy, laden with sadness and fear, but a broken heart can heal.
There is hope.
Many years ago, I suffered a horrible break up. Sometimes the camera of my mind replays the scene of my younger self, lying on the bedroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably in devastation. I didn’t want it to end, but I couldn’t let that unhealthy relationship continue. My body shattered, and I could do nothing but fall to pieces on the floor. We broke up. I broke down, and somehow I had to find a way to live without this man that I loved.
While there is no accurate description of what a broken heart feels like, there are emotional reactions and behaviors that many who’ve suffered a broken heart have experienced. They are not pretty.
According to therapist Joyce Marter, Founder and CEO of Urban Balance, “a broken heart mirrors a depressive episode, and someone might have a decrease in appetite, disruptive sleep, and anxiety about the future,” Marter said.
Happiness Specialist, Rebecca L. Norrington said, “A broken heart is probably one of the most painful experiences this life has to offer…I know if I had a dollar for every heartbreak and disappointment I’ve felt, I’d be able to finance a cruise around the world…well, maybe a cruise half-way around the world.”
Part of the pain of a broken heart comes not only from the fear of being alone but also from the fear of feeling alone—as if no one could possibly understand what we are experiencing. “It’s not only losing the person you were with, but also the life you thought you might have,” said Marter.
Not one of us is an island. As human beings, we are social animals who thrive on relationships. “People come into our lives for different reasons, and we are shaped and molded by relationships,” said Marter.
When we invest ourselves, our time, our emotions, and our hearts into building a life with a partner, we are feeding our hope, nurturing our happiness. A break up cannot only destroy that happiness but also diminish or even rob us of any hope of ever finding love again. “There is a lot of grief, and people often feel like ‘I’m not lovable,’” said Marter.
There is no socially established mourning process for the death of a relationship. It’s just sad.
Sure, people felt sorry for me. Friends affirmed that I was a “great catch” and that l would meet someone else, but all the while he still existed, living in the same apartment only miles away, taking calls on the same phone that he never answered when I called because he wanted nothing to do with me any longer. It took many long months for that pain to begin to subside.
If breakups were easy, they would have a more accurate name—like a “filter” or “cleanse”—but what if we approached a break up as an experience to learn about ourselves? Marter said, “even though broken hearts are painful, there are lessons we learn if we honor the feelings of grief. Surf through the feelings and there is a lot of wisdom that can come.” The process of moving on from a relationship that has run its course can be an opportunity for growth and self-betterment.
What can people do to help heal a broken heart?
Norrington said, “Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to eliminate all heartbreak and disappointment. The secret is…choose to prioritize happiness.”
While this advice might seem like an oversimplification of healing, prioritizing happiness takes a lot of work, and Norrington teaches that eliminating expectations is the first step in healing a broken heart. “People with broken hearts have one thing in common—having expectations of other people. Having expectations of how someone else is supposed to act, feel, think, speak and behave. If you never want to experience a broken heart,” Norrington said, “eliminate all expectations from your relationships.”
More than anything, people who are pained need to learn strategies for coping with the pain. Because people can sometimes, “unrealistically expect or hope that life is all unicorns and roses,” said Marter. Finding the strength to search for the wisdom embedded in the hurt can be daunting though. Recognizing that healing is a process helped me to try to focus on living my new life one day at a time.
Those feelings that the result from this crisis of self-esteem can drive people to say terrible things to themselves, to devalue themselves. “Be mindful of self-talk, become rooted in the present moment, practice deep breathing and meditation,” advised Marter, who also said that, “practicing gratitude helps to shift perspective.”
“When we are rooted in the present moment we feel our best. Often people who are suffering from a broken heart tend to worry about the future or obsess over the past, and that’s where practicing mindfulness can be a helpful coping mechanism,” said Marter.
Keeping a gratitude journal can help to shift the perspective from focusing on the negative to recognizing the positive. There were, however, many days when I struggled to find anything for which I was grateful. Then a friend reminded me, “sometimes we need to remember that we can and should be grateful for a good cry.”
Feeling heartache is part of the healing process, and there is no shame in letting the body, mind, and soul experience all that it needs to in order to feel happy again. Marter advised, “get support. Talk with friends and family. Journaling can be cathartic. Remember self-care. Rest, eat nutritious foods, exercise to the point of sweat,” because the endorphins released through exercise will help.
I have found running to be therapeutic, and a lot of people take comfort in re-connecting with spirituality in times of emotional turmoil. “What is most important,” Marter said, “is to surround yourself with people who bring you up. And, to have hope that you will love again. If you aren’t there yet, have hope that you will hope to have love again.” Hope does indeed spring eternal, and when the heart is ready, it will open up to love again.
About the Author:
Explore this Article Taking Care of Yourself Making Connections and Enjoying Life Separating Yourself from Your Ex Questions & Answers Related Articles References
This article was co-authored by
Paul Chernyak, LPC
. Paul Chernyak is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Chicago. He graduated from the American School of Professional Psychology in 2011.
There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
Coping with the loss of a relationship may be one of the hardest things you ever have to do. Whether you were with the person for three months or thirty years, breakups can leave you feeling profoundly hurt, confused, and rejected. You won’t feel this way forever, though! You can heal your broken heart by working to move past the pain, taking good care of yourself, and developing a fulfilling social life.
Method 1 Taking Care of Yourself
- Get moving with a little exercise.
Go to the gym, go for a jog in the park, or just get outside for a brisk walk. Physical activity increases the amount of serotonin in the brain, which acts like a natural antidepressant and improves your mood. You’ll also have more energy and feel better about yourself in general.
- Take some group fitness classes or hit the gym with a buddy.
- It doesn’t matter what exercise you choose, just get your heart pumping. Within just 5 minutes of moderate exercise, you may start feeling your mood lift.
- Find things to laugh about.
Laughter really is one of life’s best medicines! Take some time to engage in activities that make you laugh. Watch films that you find hilarious, revisit some funny memes you’ve seen on social media, call up one of your humorous friends for a chat, or go see a stand-up comedian perform at a local club.
- Try to avoid funny things that will remind you of your ex at first. Skip the film if it was one of your faves as a couple, for example.
- Do things you’ve never done before.
Whether you choose to go hiking, surfing, or dancing, take some time for yourself to do new and exciting things. Enjoy your new freedom and independence! Take this time to do all of the fun things that your partner never wanted or enjoyed doing with you.
- For instance, perhaps your partner never wanted to try Indian food. This is a perfect time for you to do so.
- Consider linking up with other people who also want to try new things. For example, you could join a special interest group on Meetup.com.
- Change your look.
Reinvigorate your look by getting a haircut, color, or style change. Clean out your wardrobe and give away anything you no longer wear. Buy yourself a few new and fun outfits. A new look can give your self-esteem a much deserved boost!
- Consider getting a facial, massage, pedicure, or manicure. Treat yourself! Plus, massages can help to release the tension in your body.
- Call up a few friends and hold a spa day at one of your homes.
Start a journal to record how you feel. Writing things down can be a powerful release. Write about whatever you want to write about, whether that’s the breakup or any other issue you’re going through. Give yourself space to vent. You’ll feel a lot better after you do.
- Make a list of your strengths.
Breakups can leave you feeling really down about yourself. It’s common to blame yourself after a breakup, and this may damage your self-esteem. Take some time to think about all of the good qualities that you possess. Write them down and remind yourself of them daily.
- Strengths can include humor, intellect, beauty, persistence, diligence, or compassion.
- You might consider writing them on sticky notes and putting them in certain places in your room or house. Seeing them throughout the day can boost your self-esteem.
- Try to manage your other responsibilities the best you can.
It’s okay to take some time to grieve during this sad time, but don’t forget about your other responsibilities. Continue to work hard at your career or in school. Stay connected and in touch with family and friends so that you don’t lose those crucial support systems. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and avoid negative coping mechanisms like excessive drinking.
- For example, keep up with your bills and stay on top of cleaning tasks. Make yourself a healthy dinner each night.
- Even completing a small task can help you feel like you are making progress and moving on with your life.
Method 2 Making Connections and Enjoying Life
- Spend quality time with your friends.
Your friends can help you, comfort you, and get you out there having a good time. You don’t have to do anything particularly special. Try planning a movie night, going to the zoo, hitting the beach, or trying a new restaurant. Remember the fun you used to have with them and try to recapture that part of your life.
- Lean on your friends as you deal with a broken heart. Give yourself a chance to vent to someone who completely has your back.
- Channel your energy into new activities.
Use this time to reinvent yourself by exploring potential areas of interest for you. It’s never too late to be the person that you have always wanted to be! Explore new hobbies, try new foods and live a life of excitement and novelty every day.
- Pick up a new skill. For example, you could try glass-blowing, ceramics, a new instrument, or cave diving.
- Invite friends to try these new things with you if you prefer, or do them alone.
- Volunteer in your community.
Volunteering will help you see the real impact you have on people’s lives, and can show you how fortunate you are to have everything you do. Find a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen, nursing home or school to volunteer at and focus on helping others.
- Research local organizations with missions that align with your passions and volunteer with them.
- Adopt a pet for comfort and companionship.
If you have the time and resources, caring for a pet can be a rewarding and healing experience. Consider adopting a cat or dog from your local shelter. That way, you’ll gain a new friend and also save the life of an animal that deserves a forever home.
- If you rent rather than own your living space, make sure you’re allowed to have a pet by checking with your landlord first.
- Having a pet can also help you connect with other pet owners. For example, if you walk your dog at the park, you can chat with other dog owners.
- If you already have a pet, spend more time with them. Bring home a new toy or a special treat and just enjoy their company.
- Start dating again when you feel ready.
After whatever time you deem necessary, you might feel ready to date again. You’ll meet interesting new people and it may help you to move on. However, don’t feel pressured to date if you aren’t emotionally ready! Take your time.
- Once you do start dating, you don’t have to get serious with someone else right away. Move at a comfortable pace and try to avoid rebound relationships.
- If you’ve spent very little time in your past being single, or if you seem to have relationships one after the other without a break in between, you may need to watch out for rebounding.
Method 3 Separating Yourself from Your Ex
- Cut off all contact with them.
One of the most important steps to moving past your breakup is cutting off all communication with your ex. Do not call, text or email them. If they reach out to you, don’t reply. You can even consider blocking them if you feel tempted to respond. Give yourself a minimum of 90 days while you detach emotionally from them.
- If you have children or assets together, this won’t be possible. Try to limit your interactions to only those that are absolutely necessary.
- If you don’t have any reason (like children) to speak after 90 days, consider a full break from that person with no communication. Otherwise, you may prolong your pain and have a hard time moving on.
- If you feel like reaching out to them, write them an email but don’t send it. Putting your feelings into words can be cathartic.
- Disconnect from the person on all social networks.
Unfollow or delete the person on Facebook and unfollow them on Twitter and Instagram. You may want to make the social media disconnection permanent, since there’s no reason to remind yourself of them in the future. Consider cleansing their pictures from your own social media profiles, too.
- You don’t have to delete the images forever! Just remove them from your accounts so you don’t have to see them constantly.
- You may also want to unfollow their friends for now, so you don’t run the risk of seeing a picture or post about your ex.
Avoid places where your ex hangs out. Seeing your ex frequently may keep wounds open longer than necessary. Try to avoid places they frequent. Take a different route to work or class. These small inconveniences will help you heal much faster.
- Schedule time to grieve.
True healing can only come if you allow yourself to feel your emotions rather than constantly stifling them. Set aside private time every day to think about the breakup. Don’t hold in your tears; let them flow, freeing you of some of the sadness you’re carrying.
- Every day, devote less and less time to grieving. You’ll eventually find yourself thinking about the breakup less often.
- Cleanse your space of reminders of your ex.
Remove all the memories of the person from your everyday life. The goal isn’t to pretend like the person never existed, but simply to remove reminders which are currently painful for you.
- Collect all pictures, letters, and references to your ex and pack them away.
- Removing is different from destroying. Don’t burn or destroy any objects associated with the person, unless you’re sure you’ll never want to look at them again.
Add New Question
Can a 13 year relationship be saved if both people have PTSD?
Paul Chernyak is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Chicago. He graduated from the American School of Professional Psychology in 2011.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Depends on the basis of the relationship. I would suggest seeing a professional for this kind of information. Ideally, you both need to work on your own PTSD.
I’m a single dad with two kids what should I do?
Paul Chernyak is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Chicago. He graduated from the American School of Professional Psychology in 2011.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Depends on your situation. Can you start dating again? Are you in financial trouble? Write down your concerns and try to proactively work on them. Get help from your family if possible.
My heart is broken, but I want to be with him again. What can I do?
Why would you want to be with someone that broke your heart? You deserve better than this. If you go back to him, he’ll most likely do the same thing again. Break this cycle and move on with your life. Use the tips in the article.
How do I let go of my first love?
Just remember that it is what it is, “your first love” not your last. Let go and know that one day you will look back on this experience fondly.
What do I do if I have a child with someone but the relationship isn’t working?
Don’t stay with a person you don’t want to be with just because you have a child together. Try to keep things as friendly/respectful as possible, because this person will always be in your life. Just tell them that the relationship isn’t working out.
What if it was a family member who tremendously hurt my heart?
If the person has hurt you, being related doesn’t mean anything. If the family member is bad for you, eliminate the person from your life.
What if the person I like is moving to a new school soon and I may never see them again?
Ask if them for their number or email to keep in touch. If they don’t have one, ask for their new address so you can send letters.
I have tried to forget about my past but i keep having flashbacks of things I do not want to recall. What should I do?
Make new happy memories for yourself doing things you love to do. Maybe you can’t forget the past, but each time you can turn the page and train your mind to think about something else new and exciting.
How can I forget about someone I miss?
You need to fill a void in your life that makes you miss someone who is no longer there. Engage in activities, meet new people, do volunteer work, cultivate your interests. Keep yourself busy, and you’ll find that you gradually miss the person less and less.
What do I do if I’m hopelessly in love with someone and I don’t even know if he likes me?
Find out if he likes you. Don’t waste your time suffering in silence. Once you know one way or the other you can accept it and move forward. If he’s not interested in you, remember that this doesn’t mean that you are not a person worthy of love and move on with your life.
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Can I do all these tasks other than continuing with my business? What don’t have any friends what to do?
How can I sever ties with somebody I have to be in contact with?
How do I get closure in a relationship if I have a broken heart?
How do I heal a broken heart if I need to see someone daily?
What should I do if we are both married and I have a broken heart?
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