How to Recover from a Breakup

15 Lessons on How to Recover from a Breakup the Healthy Way

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I’ve been where you are. And I learned the hard way, these lessons on how to recover from a breakup the healthy way. Everything could be going perfectly well. You’re strolling through life, working, eating, exploring, hoping, living.

And then someone new enters your space and somehow becomes an unquestionable part of your day-to-day experience. Though you’ve lived a majority of your life just-fine-without-this-person-thank-you-very-much, suddenly it feels impossible that you ever be without them again.

But whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship or familial connection nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes things end. Sometimes they last, too! Of course they do. But this post isn’t about those times.

Sometimes things end and what matters then is resilience, growth and grace. If you’re suffering through the loss of a relationship or wondering how to help a friend through a breakup then this post is a labor of love especially for you. 

Guide on How to Recover from a Breakup the Healthy Way

Why do breakups hurt so bad?

Breakups shock our systems. They challenge our sense of safety, security and self-worth. Our identities are shaken, whether it’s a marriage break up, the demise of a long-term relationship or even a friend breakup (ugh, those really suck).

Researchers have said that coping with a breakup is similar to coping with physical pain or even drug withdrawal. This article offers a high-level explanation. Essentially, the reason breakups hurt so bad is because of where they’re processed in the brain.

It’s how we’re wired. And I hope you find some comfort in this — your gut-wrenching pain is normal. And it will be hard, but it will pass. It will take time, though. 

Your body, mind and soul are relying on you to push through this difficult time and the aches and pains that come with it. Healing from a breakup has the potential to be one of the most growth-filled paths you’ll walk in life.

What not to do after a breakup?

Of course, you should take some time to just be and to feel your emotions. But avoid wallowing for too long, ruminating on what could have been or beating yourself up for the breakup.

The quicker you can move toward acceptance, the quicker your breakup recovery process will begin. Also avoid saying hurtful things or projecting your pain on to others. You are likely hurting, and it is helpful to be as mindful as possible about what we say or do when hurting.

How long does it take to get over a breakup?

The answer varies depending on length and depth of the relationship, as well as your mindset. The latter is critical. I’ve had breakups that took me years to get over and breakups that took only a couple months.

One key differentiator that was within my control was how quickly I accepted the breakup and followed the tips outlined in this post.

Signs you’re healing from a breakup:

You’ve probably heard that healing is not linear. Some days, you might notice signs you’re healing and other days you might feel like you’re back to square one.

This is normal. Focus on the wins, the days when you see the signs and recognize that the process of healing is unfolding as it should:

  • You find yourself making it through minutes, hours or days without thinking much about the breakup or your ex
  • You notice you’re rebuilding your self esteem
  • You find moments of true happiness and joy
  • You feel hopeful about your future
  • You accept the breakup and recognize why it happened, you feel a sense of peace about it even if it is still painful

15 Tips on How to Heal From a Breakup

From experience, I can confirm there is a right way and a wrong way to healthily recover after a breakup. If you’re wondering how to be happy after a breakup, or simply how to survive a breakup, I. Have. Got. You.  

This is not a post where I tell you to listen to sad songs, buy yourself pretty flowers or even f**k it all and travel. It’s not that those are terrible ideas. It’s that they’re highly superficial. They don’t address your underlying issues or sources of pain. And dealing with a breakup in a way that helps you thrive is all about dealing with the underlying issues.  

If you’re wondering how to handle a breakup with tenacity and intention then this advice is for you. Implement as many of these practices as you can, even one is enough. Sending you love and light, here we go:

1. Feel your feelings

how to heal from a breakup feel your feelings ouch
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

For a long time, I didn’t understand what the heck this meant. Of course I’m feeling my feelings, and you know what? They feel really bad. Are we done with this yet? Am I healed yet?

I very much wanted to unlock the secret to “feeling my feelings” because I’d learned that not doing so could slow down my healing process.

So, I focused on learning more about this. I started noticing that I was not, in fact, feeling all my feelings. How many times had I sensed them bubbling up and decided to numb them out with Netflix or a burger? Many, many times.

I knew I felt sad but I knew it on the mind-level. I was avoiding feeling it at the body level I actually medicated it away a couple times with ibuprofen because according to the brain, pain is pain. (Please note: I’m no kind of medical professional and this should not be taken as sound medical advice).

What truly feeling my feelings looked like was allowing the pain or anger or hopelessness to come up in my physical body and letting the molasses-like sensation work through me:

  • Breathing through the waves
  • Verbally naming the feeling of the moment
  • Sitting in it for a bit, honoring it, accepting it at least for as long as I could take it before then putting on a lighthearted TV show for moral support background noise.

2. Self soothe

I started doing this almost instinctively from day one, when I first recognized the beginning of the end. I’d already been practicing more kindness toward myself, showing myself the kind of love I needed and (was learning) I deserved.

For me, self soothing looked like stroking my own hair through heavy sobs, calming myself down with words of affirmation (my love language), holding myself and speaking to myself the way I’d want someone else to speak to me:

“It’s okay, sweetheart. It’ll be okay, I love you. You are strong. You are safe. I know it hurts and it’s okay to let it out. Deep breaths, love.”

Maybe this sounds weird to you. But the amount of comfort I was able to bring myself by accessing the most loving, grounded, strongest parts of my core in service of myself for a change was life-giving. And I’m sure it will be for you, too.

Think of how you might want someone else to speak to you or comfort you. Or think of how you’d comfort someone else. And then do those things for yourself.

We build trust with ourselves through actions like these. We build the kind of independence that allows us to move forward with strength and confidence.

3. Journal and reflect

coping with divorce by journaling
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Years ago, I was an avid journaler. It was cathartic for me, the quickest path to understanding myself. I’d start writing about something and have constant epiphanies about my thought process or any question at hand. It was mind-blowing.

But, over time, I started actively avoiding the process. I didn’t want to face certain things I knew journaling would bring up for me. The beauty of it is, the practice of journaling is like riding a bike and we can come back to ourselves through it anytime.

Journal when you feel lost, when you’re aching, when you’re inspired and having one of those days when you magically feel glimmers of hope. It will happen! Healing from a breakup is not a linear process, you’ll have ups and downs. Capture them and learn from them, or lean on them when you need reminders and courage.

If you need prompts, some of my journal entries in the months since my separation included:

  • A letter to me from my future self
  • A letter from me to my potential future daughter
  • Processing a feeling of heaviness I was struggling to work through, my aspirations, my many blessings.

4. Prepare to feel it all

how to cope with a break up emotional roller coaster
Photo by Olia Nayda on Unsplash

Like I said, dealing with a breakup is not a linear process. In addition to grief and anger, you’ll likely experience regret, guilt, confusion and disillusionment.

You’ll likely also experience positive emotions (though it may take time) like freedom, lightheartedness, hopefulness, gratitude.

It can be overwhelming to feel such a wide range of emotions. One of my most-used phrases in the last few months has been, “it’s hard to be human!”

On the path to being happy after a breakup, be prepared to feel it all. If you can, take a mental step back and simply observe. You might find it amusing or awe-inspiring, this journey of yours.

5. Remind yourself why

Confusion could hit you in spades. You may have moments when you’re absolutely sure the end of the relationship was a must (whether you did the ending or not). And then you may have moments of wondering whether things were really so bad? Had you imagined it all?

I will tell you, these thoughts are a major mindf**k. This is one of those times when journaling comes in especially handy. In moments of clarity around why you’re broken up, write down all the reasons you know the relationship wasn’t right for one or both of you. Refer back to it as needed.

A book I’ve heard great reviews for (though I haven’t read it myself) to help in these cases is It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.

6. Focus on your future self

how to heal after a breakup crystal ball
Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

It is really freaking hard not to give in to our current feelings and cravings. Whether it’s that fast food joint calling your name or a desire to get back together with someone who isn’t right for you because the alternative feels scary. Our default mindset seems to be set to instant gratification.

Folks say to live life in the present but I’d argue that can’t be your constant state of mind. Living in the present leads to only thinking about creating comfort for yourself now. And this is a huge disservice to your future self. The way to grow and succeed is to think about where you want to be and then set the cogs in motion today to get there.

It takes a lot of discipline and is something I’m putting a lot of energy into myself. When I couldn’t handle the thought of all the day-to-day discomfort I’d experience by walking away from my marriage (broken dreams, heartache, judgement from others, paperwork, finding a new place to live, etc) I focused on my future self and his future self.

What would be best for each of us long-term?

To take it steps further, when my own future wasn’t worthy enough to prioritize (this could be its own post) then I thought of my future kids and the kind of home I wanted for them.

I thought of the future of all my loved ones, whose happiness is directly correlated with my own, and how I wanted to save them from the burden of worrying about me.

Anchor yourself in your purpose, your ambitions, your future self. And if not for your sake, then for the sake of your progeny and your tribe.

7. Nurture compassion for yourself

how to recover from a break up self love
Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

If you’re the slightest bit codependent, chances are high that you put others’ happiness and comfort above your own. Not necessarily because you’re super generous just for the hell of it (though I’m sure you’re a kind soul!), but because you believe that to receive love you have to sacrifice your own needs.

Does this sound like you? Let me tell you something that magically clicked for me some months ago:

Each individual life on this planet matters. Each individual life on this planet contributes to the collective whole of life energy on this planet.

BUT we can each only have direct impact on ONE.


I cannot save anybody else. I cannot heal anyone else. To do so, to divert my attention away from my own self and soul in efforts to heal someone else’s wounds, is fruitless. Not only that, but to actively harm my own self and soul “in service” of healing someone else is a huge misstep. Our intentions may be noble, but the results are harmful to the universal spirit.

You may think this is too woo-woo and I wouldn’t blame you. It took me months (or if we’re being honest, in the grand scheme of things it took me 3 DECADES) to have this realization.

And once I did, it was life-changing. It got me to start putting myself first without feeling that doing so was selfish. It’s not selfish, it’s my right and responsibility.

Just as it’s your right and responsibility to care for your own soul first and foremost. And that may look like cutting people out who do not allow this or who harm it, even unintentionally. It may look like limiting contact with those who don’t yet understand.

8. Go to therapy to talk it out

If you’ve never been before, therapy can feel intimidating. Certainly in the South Asian community there’s still a huge stigma around it. I contemplated it for so many years and when I wasn’t actively avoiding it I was being plain lazy about it.

Therapy was one of the best gifts I had coming out of my short-lived marriage.

To have someone to talk to who is not directly impacted by my life choices means I have an objective sounding board. I never feel guilty about unloading my stressors or worries on my therapist because it’s her literal job to listen to me talk for an hour and give me advice if I want it. Hah!

In all seriousness, if you’re feeling hopeless and alone I highly recommend looking into therapy. Start here as a jumping off point. You may want to try a few different ones to see who you connect with most.

And please realize seeking therapy can and should also be a proactive vs reactive step. We all have areas for growth and a therapist is trained to help you see your blind spots while providing tactics for addressing them.

9. Leverage support and resources

Dealing with a breakup is hard and even harder if you try to go it completely alone. Lean into your support network. This has been challenging for me, because I don’t want to burden my loved ones and I also don’t want them to see how much I sometimes hurt.

I want to protect them from the pain of seeing me at my lowest, and want to reassure them (and myself sometimes) that I’m more than strong enough to handle this.

Still, they are there when I need them and I encourage you to reach out to your support system when you truly need them. But, stay mindful of boundaries and self soothe as well.

There’s more! There are all sorts of resources you can tap into. Here are a few that helped me:

  • The Mender’s Club Facebook group: I never posted in here myself, only lurked, but it was comforting to know other people were also coping with and healing from breakups. A breakup can feel very isolating, this group made it feel less so.
  • Calm app: Guided meditations, body scans and more. I subscribe to Calm premium and my favorite feature are the bedtime stories and sounds to help me fall asleep when my mind is racing.
  • Articles on Psychology Today: Reading up on the psychology behind the issues in my marriage, breakups and relationships in general helped me make sense of life on days when my faith wasn’t enough to sustain me.
  • Mark Groves’ podcast: I’m a podcast junkie across genres but if you’re looking for one that focuses on relationships, this is the one for you. Check out his videos on Instagram for helpful advice, too.
  • Eat, Pray, Love: I know it sounds cliche, but this book has been my light through more than one bad breakup now and if you haven’t read it yet, may as well give it a chance. This time around, I listened to it on Audible and it was exactly the break I needed on days when my brain felt especially in need of an escape.

10. Learn to enjoy your own company

how to deal with a broken heart parasailing
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

I was most scared of this one, and that’s how I knew it was the one I needed to focus on the most. While I’ve always liked alone time in doses, I didn’t love the idea of constantly being alone.

Now that I’ve been living alone for a few months I absolutely love it. I’ve realized the value of just being with myself and am experiencing big internal shifts around this.

Learning to enjoy your own company doesn’t have to look like eating alone at restaurants or going to the movies alone (though it can). It’s as simple as finding comfort in your own silent presence. Or in your own dancing-in-the-kitchen moments, whatever.

Or discovering things you love to do and doing them without waiting for anyone else to join you. For me, this includes exercising, traveling, blogging and trying new recipes. How about for you? If you don’t know, this is a great opportunity to learn and lean into new aspects of yourself.

11. Embrace discipline as a form of self love

Another big revelation for me this year has been that self love is not only about doing what feels good. It’s about doing what’s best for yourself even when you don’t feel like it! Read that again.

When you’re healing from a breakup, there will be days when you don’t want to do anything but know it’s in your best interest to get moving. Other days, you probably should go easier on yourself. If you work on parenting yourself with discipline you’ll have a much clearer idea of when to push through vs when to take it easy.

There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed, nights when I want to skip the gym, weeks when I want to order fast food multiple days in a row.

Loving myself means recognizing when I’m simply being lazy or petulant (as opposed to really needing a break) and disciplining myself to get up, turn off the TV and read a book or cook a healthy meal instead of succumbing to bad habits.

This has been a game changer for me. When you practice self-discipline you again build trust with yourself. You prove that you will act in your best interest, whether that means leaving a toxic relationship or getting your butt to the gym.

Then, the days when you truly do need a break or a treat you’ll be able to accept them guilt-free because you know you’re always doing what’s best for you.

If you want to be happy after a breakup, practice self-discipline.

12. Infuse gratitude into your daily life

gratitude helps recover from a breakup
Photo by Freshh Connection on Unsplash

Even if you’re not trying to recover from a breakup, this is a power habit that benefits all. If you know, you know. And if you don’t, it’s time to get in on this. Gratitude is a surefire way to pull yourself out of a slump.

In its simplest form, you can literally count your blessings. Even better, list them out in your journal. Refer back whenever you need a reminder of how much you do have, even if you no longer have that relationship.

To further infuse gratitude in your daily life, challenge yourself to find at least one small thing to be grateful for every day. Over time, you’ll notice yourself doing this instinctively. These can be small moments of joy that you make it a point to notice. Moments that may have otherwise passed by you.

Like the way your coffee dances when you pour creamer into it. Or the way the sun hits the dew on tree branches. Or the soreness you feel after a great workout, affirming you have a healthy body that lets you move.

Or the fact there are puppies in the world. Anything, anything that brings you joy. Tap into it daily and I guarantee, the more you focus on this the more reasons you’ll uncover to be thankful.

13. Set your standards and do the work

I’d be straight up lying if I said I wasn’t jaded after my divorce — the romantic within me feels deeply exhausted (which is at least a step up from deadened) but I hope to revive her because that’s no way to go through life.

People ask me what I’ll be looking for in my next relationship whenever (if ever?) I do start looking again. And that is a great question!

If you’re wondering how to be happy after a breakup, perhaps in your next relationship, great! When you want to heal after a breakup with the goal of dating again, take the time to yourself first.

It’s easier when you may be feeling rejected or left out of coupledom to latch onto the next warm body that’ll have you. But hurt people hurt others and if you don’t take the time to learn from your last relationship you’ll likely repeat the same cycles.

You don’t have to be 110% healed before putting yourself back on the market as some of the healing can take place within the boundaries of a healthy relationship. But do take time to do a good chunk of the work on your own.

Evaluate your most recent relationship. What was good about it? What was not-so good? What did you not give? What did you not receive? How or why did you end up in that relationship?

These are important questions for understanding what you need from others, what your own areas of growth are and how you can build a more fulfilling partnership the next time around.

Using your answers to these questions and your learnings become very clear about what you’re looking for in your ideal relationship. Literally make the list. Write it down. And as you evolve, add to it, remove from it. Keep what you’re calling in at the top of your mind.


Become. Those. Things.

Want active? Funny? Easygoing? Passionate? Successful? Fun? Thoughtful? Become these things you’re waiting for someone else to be for you.

If you have these qualities in your life, in yourself, you’re not operating from a place of want. You’re not looking to someone else to fill a void. You’re looking for someone who complements these aspects of yourself.

A true partner.

14. Establish healthy boundaries and honor them

Even if you decide to remain friends with your ex, my personal recommendation is to go no-contact for a while. In my experience, it takes longer to get over someone when you’re still in regular contact.

Take some months to focus on yourself, your healing and adjusting to your life without them before broaching friendship.

If your relationship was toxic, set healthy boundaries accordingly. Perhaps this is not someone you should keep contact with at all.

15. Reconnect with friends and loved ones

After a breakup is a great opportunity to reach out and reconnect with your network. Sometimes, we lose ourselves in our relationships. Nurture the other loving relationships in your life, with friends and family.

Conclusion: How to Recover from a Breakup the Healthy Way

It’s not easy to deal with a breakup and healing from a breakup can feel difficult. I hope these lessons and tips bring you closer to healing a broken heart through self care and reflection.

Remember, breakups are part of a love-filled life. You are not alone, and you will get through this!