Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Going through a separation can be very difficult, no matter the reason for it. It can turn your world upside down and make it hard to get through the day.
In this blog we're going to look at some things you can do to get through this difficult adjustment.
Don’t try to control your feelings – It’s normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It’s important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the process.
Something important has happened and our feelings are like the instrument panel on an aircraft telling us that we have to take action to bring ourselves back on course towards living life as we want to live it.
Taking time to be aware of how we are feeling, adopting some basic self-care and refocusing on behaviours that will move us towards living life to the full helps us stop prolonging our pain. We're not suddenly going to be filled with joy - something unpleasant has happened and, frankly, it would just be bizarre if we didn't feel something. We are human beings with hearts, after all - but we don't have to make things worse for ourselves by fusing with these feelings and giving them power over us.
Talk about how you’re feeling – Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Journaling can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.
Don’t let your feelings control you – Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyze the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger, and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing.
Remind yourself that you still have a future – When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It’s hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.
Give yourself a break. - Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period of time. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you’re accustomed to for a little while. No one is superman or superwoman; take time to heal, regroup and re-energize.
Take some time out. Try not to make any major decisions in the first few months after a separation, like starting a new job or moving to a new city. If you can, wait until you’re feeling less emotional so that you can make better decisions.
Avoid power struggles and arguments with your former partner - If a discussion begins to turn into a fight, calmly suggest that you both try talking again later and either walk away or hang up the phone.
Make a routine (and stick to it) - A relationship breakup can disrupt almost every area of your life, amplifying feelings of stress, uncertainty, and chaos. Getting back to a regular routine can provide a comforting sense of structure and normalcy.
Take time to explore your interests -Reconnect with things you enjoyed doing when you weren’t with your partner. Have you always wanted to take up painting or play in a football team? Sign up for a class, invest time in your hobbies, volunteer, and take time to enjoy life and make new friends.
Learning to take care of yourself can be one of the most valuable lessons you learn following a breakup. When you’re going through the emotional wringer and dealing with major life changes, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The strain and upset of a major breakup can leave you psychologically and physically vulnerable.
Make time each day to nurture yourself. Help yourself heal by scheduling daily time for activities you find calming and soothing. Go for a walk in nature, listen to music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, read a favourite book or savour a warm cup of tea.
Pay attention to what you need in any given moment and speak up to express your needs. Honour what you believe to be right and best for you even though it may be different from what your ex or others want. Say "no" without guilt or angst as a way of honouring what is right for you.
Avoid using alcohol, drugs, or food to cope. When you’re in the middle of a breakup, you may be tempted to do anything to relieve your feelings of pain and loneliness. But using alcohol, drugs, or food as an escape is unhealthy and destructive in the long run. It’s essential to find healthier ways of coping with painful feelings.
A Short Progressive Stress Release Exercise
Sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable. Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth, even tense your ears up if you can. Hold this for the count of five as you inhale. Now exhale and relax completely for a count of ten. Let your face go completely lax, as though you were sleeping. Feel the tension seep from your facial muscles, and enjoy the feeling. Next, completely tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to five. Then exhale and relax for a count of ten. Continue down your body, repeating the procedure with the four main muscle groups:
•neck, shoulders and arms
•abdomen and chest
•buttocks, legs and feet
Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flows down and completely covers you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.
A Simple Breathing Exercise
Find a comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes and feel yourself relax. Spend a few moments appreciating yourself, your seat and the world around you. Now bring your attention to your breath.
Where do you most feel the breath? Follow the movement of the breath from where it enters at the tip of your nose all the way to your belly, and see where your attention is most keen. Feel the breath entering and leaving. What sensations are there? Does it feel hot or cool? Is it short or quick? Is there a pause between breaths or between the inhalation and exhalation?
Just watch your breath, observe its natural movement, be aware that you are breathing. Closely observe every detail about your breath from the place where your attention rests - the tip of your nose, chest or belly. Watch one whole breath entering and filling and leaving and emptying, then watch another, and then another.