10 Tips to Overcome Breakup Stress

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Honey, sweetie, lovey. If you’re reading this, the odds are high that your heart is hurting, and I’m so sorry. Breakups are tough and can come with a lot of stress in the following weeks and months. Some studies have shown that after a breakup, the same parts of your brain that respond to physical pain are triggered by this intense emotional pain. After a breakup, your brain will be looking to reform neural connections that they once made to create emotional attachment to another human, creating stress around the loss of such an important part of our emotional foundations. During this time it is important to take care of yourself and find ways to manage and relieve your breakup stress.

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1. Chocolate

One of my all-time stress relief techniques for anything and everything. In Legally Blonde, Elle copes with her breakup from Warner with a big box of variety chocolates – what an iconic scene. While stress eating should always be approached with moderation, I take comfort in knowing that dark chocolate contains flavonols that help lower stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine, in your body.

Plus, on the bright side, dark chocolate will never show up late for a date or snore too loud and keep you up at night.

2. Cry

Maybe you’ve been doing this already, but maybe you’ve been holding your feelings in. Healthy expressions of emotions are great resources when looking to relieve breakup stress. Crying can help you feel more comforted and calm while you sort through your breakup, and help reduce the repression of negative feelings that might erupt later.

The science behind the benefits of crying focuses on what tears are taking with them when they leave your body. Tears lower your manganese levels, as well as your adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels, both of which are associated with stress.

3. Affirmations

Positive affirmations function as a form of meditation. It keeps you focused on a positive saying, or mantra, while allowing you to come away from whatever the source of stress in your life might be at that moment. Stress and anxiety cause your brain’s happy hormones, serotonin and dopamine, to decrease, leading to a drop in optimism and confidence. By focusing instead on positive sayings such as “my distress is a result of brain chemistry, I’m not crazy, just off balance” or “I am enough” or “I am moving towards healing.”

Check out these positive affirmations from Deepak Chopra for more inspiration.

4. Take Care of Yourself

We’ve all heard of the revenge diet. You break up with someone, you want to get hot fast and make them sorry they ever broke your heart. However, this pattern of behavior can reinforce feelings of rejection and the sense that you aren’t good enough – which isn’t true!

Instead of going on a super restrictive diet, consider focusing on eating nourishing foods full of fiber, nutrients, and protein. Be patient with yourself, and don’t put pressure on yourself to be a certain way in order to make someone else feel bad or make yourself feel worthy of love. You are always worthy of love.

5. Reconnect with Friends and Family

While most of us never intend to, when we become involved with a significant other, we often begin to neglect the other relationships in our lives. After a breakup, a great way to relieve stress is to rekindle those old relationships to remind yourself of how loved you truly are. Companionship has been shown to reduce stress and feelings of anxiety, and especially after a breakup can make you feel less lonely.

friends help breakup stress

6. Practice Gratitude

After a breakup, it can feel like you’ve lost everything. But this isn’t true! Practicing gratitude either through a meditation, a journal, a daily mental list, is a great way to remind yourself of all the great things you still have in your life.

You may have lost your Saturday night date plans, but you still have your friends and family (see above), your health, your job, etc. When you focus on the positive in your life, you take the opportunity to displace negative feelings that so frequently accompany a breakup.

7. Move It

Physical activity is another popular go to after breakups. It helps with that whole brand new hot body to make them jealous and/or want you back thing. But do you know the science behind it? Exercise is a great way to relieve breakup stress because it enables you to produce more endorphins which in turn lowers your cognitive functioning, boosts your mood, and decreasing your stress levels.

After you take the space to vent and cry, a great way to break up the breakup pity party. As with all of these prescriptions for breakup stress relief, exercise should definitely be practiced in moderation. The key is to help you healthily get over the split with a significant other, not to help you develop additional unhealthy obsessions.

8. Breakup Playlist

This sounds, and feels, so cheesy–I speak to you from a place of experience–but also so helpful! Music as a stress relief tool is a powerful way to influence your mood. It gives you the opportunity to find artists who have produced material you can relate to, reducing the feeling of alienation that comes with a breakup.

Many breakup songs are incredibly empowering, think “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor while some empathize with your negative feelings like “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson. The value in music as breakup stress relief is that it helps you get your feelings out instead of repressing them.

9. Do Something for YOU

A breakup is a perfect opportunity to reinvent yourself! You were previously devoting all this time to another person, and a great way to view a breakup is that you now have time for yourself again. Pick up an old hobby you put on the backburner because your partner wasn’t interested. Learn a new language. Evaluate how you can level up in your career.

By reinvesting that energy back into yourself, you’re proving to yourself that you are worth it, and sunny skies will return again soon. You might be sad and stressed right now, but channeling that energy into a positive future is a great way to move on.

10. Remember Why You Broke Up

You and your person broke up for a reason. Something wasn’t working in the relationship, and it ultimately had to come to an end. When you are feeling down or are missing that person, it can be easy to only develop nostalgia for the good times. However, doing this will not help you move on from your breakup stress any quicker. By approaching the situation with an honest and realistic approach, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to be objective in what your personal needs and wants are, preparing you for the next time you find happiness and love with a new person!

Breakups are hard, and shaking the breakup stress can be even harder. Take time and space for yourself. There’s no set time or way to move on and cope with breakup stress, so listen to your own internal cues for techniques that do and do not work for you.

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About the author

Emily Strickler
Emily is a public health nerd with a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology and Health Policy from Stanford. As a writer Emily focuses on ways to make health more approachable in order to give readers a sense of agency in their own lives. She loves talking about easy ways to live a healthy life, pinterest hacks, and fuzzy socks from Target. For tweets about what’s going on in the public health world, follow her on Twitter, @healthyemily16

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