Over the past year, many of us have been physically disconnected from our friends, families, and spaces we typically enjoy. However, those in romantic relationships may have spent more time together than ever before, especially if you share a home. This may have been a positive experience for some people – perhaps they feel closer to their partner physically, emotionally, and mentally.
However, this period might have been incredibly challenging for many others (including myself) or served as a point of reflection, possibly even leading to the end of your relationship. Whether with a romantic partner, sibling, friend, or peer, relationships are where we tend to learn and grow the most. It’s no surprise then that breakups are incredibly hard. They often fuel us with intense emotions or ruminating thoughts like, “What if I did this differently? Would we still be together?” However, despite what society may try to tell us, there is no right or wrong way to navigate this stage of our lives.
Although my partner and I broke up many months ago, I still find myself crying at times and reflecting on what was. The healing journey will look different and is unique for each individual, but by being present in the moment, we can heal in a way that truly works best for us. When we are going through a breakup, there’s this tendency to find the “quick fix” in order to move on. We may be drawn to finding a new hobby or bouncing back onto a dating app. Maybe our friends are motivating us to move on and forget about our partner. At times, we may even turn to an unhealthy habit so that we can run away from what we’re actually feeling.
Yet, these quick fixes don’t allow us to fully experience the natural ebb and flow of our emotions that arise during this process. In this avoidance, we also miss out on the opportunity to just be human! It’s important to allow the dust to settle and find steady ground rather than trying to just ‘get over it.’ Breakups invite us to acknowledge the impact that heartbreak has on mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Experiencing things like low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and despair, and even insomnia are normal.
Beyond the mental and emotional state, research has shown that experiencing a breakup is related to intense responses of the physical pain network encompassing regions of our brains. So, we often feel the need to rush back into our previous relationship or find a new one quickly to feel good again. So, how do we go about healing ourselves after a breakup?
One of the first things to acknowledge is that healing is not a linear journey; it’s more cyclical. Your emotions are going to change every day, and that’s okay. One day you might feel sad and lonely, while the next day, you might be fueled with energy and joy, but this is how life works. We may revisit experiences that we thought we had dealt with, but these are opportunities to meet ourselves on a deeper level. If we were on a straightforward path in life, just checking off boxes and arriving at life moments with ease, then there would be no growth. And to be honest, life would be quite boring.
I also recommend being aware of what is happening in the present moment. This means embracing your mind-body connection and allow yourself to really sit with what you are feeling. I like to ask myself, “What is true for me at this moment? And how can I honor that?” There might have been an added layer of pain for those who experienced a breakup during the pandemic. Rather than spending time with friends or traveling, we had no choice but to be alone. But going through your healing journey alone is a beautiful thing because it truly lets you get to know yourself in the most authentic way, instead of depending on other people to define how you should be feeling. This is a chance for you to rewrite your own story.
That’s why I recently created this new 10-day meditation course for Headspace called “Healing After A Breakup.” This course can serve as a guide to integrate and process what has happened in the time after a breakup and isn’t limited to just romantic relationships. So even if you have lost a dear friend or cut off communication with a family member, I encourage you to try this course. Allow yourself the time to pause, reflect and sit with your feelings before taking any action.
It’s important to remember that the tenth session is not intended to be the end goal. Again, healing is not a linear process. If something doesn’t feel right during the meditation, that’s okay too. Get curious and see if you can find your own meaning in the experience. At the end of the day, it’s important that we do what feels best for ourselves, but my hope is that through the practice of meditation, you get the chance to reconnect to your sense of self again.