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Working Through A Breakup You Didn’t See Coming. 5 Ways To Move On And Get Back To You

Updated: Apr 16

You were in a relationship and breaking up didn’t appear to be on the table. Maybe you were both happy or maybe it was one small rough patch, but it seemed like you would keep going. There weren’t signs that your relationship would end or that you would be left brokenhearted, but now it has happened.

Instead, you are left wondering what went wrong. You spend your days looking at relationship articles and your nights crying into the pillow. You struggle to find joy in doing anything you normally do and feel like you are going through the motions. You just feel so empty and hollow. You wonder how you’ll move on or begin to feel like your old self again.

You want to get back to being that happy person who felt lightweight and free. Back to enjoying time with friends and feeling happy about where you are in life. Back to waking up and going to sleep without crying or feeling sad. But how?

1: Grieve The Breakup

In order to feel better, first, you have to feel. Pushing feelings down is like standing on a life jacket in the middle of a lake–eventually, it will pop back up and hit you in the face. Let yourself feel what you feel, not what you are “supposed” to feel or what anyone else expects you to feel. This may be rage, sadness, disappointment, annoyance, frustration, hurt, confusion, or fear–but feel those feelings.

Ways To Feel Your Feelings Post-Breakup

  • Write in a journal what you feel, your thoughts, and anything you weren’t able to express to the person

  • Watch sad movies or read sad books that allow you to cry and feel with the characters

  • Paint or draw your feelings

  • Meditate or utilize EFT tapping for breakups

  • Write a letter to the person and rip it up

2: Do Something Different Routine Wise

If you let go of activities you enjoyed while you were in your relationship–this is a great time to get back to those. If there was something you always wanted to do but couldn’t because of your relationship or it wasn’t the right time–now may be the right time.

Sometimes, breaking up routines and doing something new can be exactly what we need to feel better. By doing new things, we can get shock and awe and see new things. Having an adventure can make us remember why we are alive. Yes, part of you may still be grieving the breakup, but it changes up your physical environment to where it isn’t as present and you are somewhat distracted.

A Few Ways To Stop The Persistent Ache Of A Breakup

  • Travel somewhere new. Plan an adventure to a beach, an amusement park, an excursion–wherever you would feel alive again and experience something new.

  • Do a staycation. Try new restaurants in your city with friends, attend a fun new event, find nature in your area–whatever will help you feel alive again.

  • Try something new exercise-wise. Maybe this is a rock climbing gym, hiking, a new exercise class. This can give you more self-esteem, a great place to meet new people or find a place of belonging, and a way to tunnel through the emotions of a breakup.

  • Try a new hobby such as an art class, cooking class, or sewing class-something that you’ve always wanted to do.

3: Work On Self-Love After An Unexpected Breakup


After a rejection it can be easy to pick yourself apart, feel hurt on a physical level, or want to stay inside and ruminate on what went wrong over and over again. This is a great time to practice some self-care to help your mental health.

Self-love after a break-up can look like finding quotes that you like and that inspire you, listening to positive affirmations or positive songs that uplift your mood or writing down all the things you love about yourself.

This could also be the part where you begin to put yourself first by setting boundaries with those who bring you down or saying no to obligations that you are not interested in or going to therapy.

For an awesome workbook on self-love, click here.

4: Establish A New Habit To Help Heal From The Breakup

What is the one thing that you’ve always wanted to do or be accomplished? Is it playing a musical instrument? Training to run a marathon? Learning how to craft? Whatever it is–sit down and think about what would be one thing that you would love to learn.

Then commit to it. Find an instructor, a YouTube video, or a group in your area and begin to learn whatever that thing is. Add it to your schedule somewhere and make it a priority and a part of your routine. This is a great way to get excited about life again and add something into your life that you want to do instead of continuing to put it off for “tomorrow.”

5: Do A Social Media Cleanse For Your Mental Health

When all else fails, do a social media cleanse. Social media can drive depression, anxiety, and fear of missing out. If you are in a breakup, it can make it hard to not compare yourself to others who are happy, in love, or moving on with their lives perhaps by getting married or having children.

This can lead to thoughts of why you, should you go back to your ex, why couldn’t you make it go? Negative thoughts tend to lead to more negative thoughts.

The benefits of a social media cleanse include a better mood, less anxiety and depression, stronger social connections, better sleep, and even more creativity.

To do a social media cleanse, start by deleting the social media apps on your phone or tablet. This makes it harder to do compulsive checking. Set a date on which you would like to re-engage. At the end of each day reflect on what you learned, when you reached for your phone, your mood, and your energy. Some research shows a 7-day cleanse is enough to boost mental health.

Breakups are hard, especially ones you don’t see coming and may not know why it ended. You may feel stuck replaying the relationship and the conversations and wondering where you could have done better. However, you can also grow from breakups and make new memories, start new hobbies, and work on bettering your mental health.

If you find yourself stuck and unable to move on, therapy may be right for you. For help getting through your breakup, call us at 757-296-8794 for a free 15-minute consultation.

f you are looking for counseling after a breakup, Mary Willoughby (Romm) Prentiss is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia who provides online therapy for Willow Tree Healing Center. She enjoys transforming the lives of women, college students, kids, tweens/teens, and families through providing communication strategies, coping skills that work, allowing a safe space to be heard, and actively working towards helping you with your challenges. She is certified in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (ages 2-7) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, counsels substance abuse in teens and adults, and practices Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.

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