By: Yashoda Valliere
A quick Google search of “how to get over a breakup” will yield thousands of articles written in a well-meaning but slightly condescending tone, by authors who may not have been through a breakup themselves recently and thus have a bit of an “outsider’s” perspective. I do not want to contribute to this collection. Currently spinning off the tail end of a two and a half year relationship, I’ve been giving close attention to my mental gymnastics of the past week, as well as the coping strategies that I have found work well for me. I figure I might as well share some of these insights, in the hopes that they can help at least one Sil reader through a difficult time.
- Get your thoughts outside your head. They are much easier to examine if you make them tangible in the real world. As you notice thoughts and feelings arising in your mind, scribble them down on a scrap of paper or even an online journal. For example, if you feel disappointment, don’t allow it to just simmer in your subconscious. Ask yourself, “Am I disappointed in my ex? Am I disappointed in myself?” and write down whatever comes to mind. If writing just doesn’t work for you, try talking it out – you can easily book a free appointment with a counsellor at the Student Wellness Centre, or drop into the Student Health Education Centre (SHEC) for peer counselling with someone your own age.
- Don’t bottle up your emotions. You are justified in feeling them. Like me, you might feel a wide range of emotions such as grief, anger, disappointment, resentment, guilt, and even gratitude for the weight of an unhealthy relationship being taken off your shoulders. These are all a natural part of loss. Get to the bottom of each emotion by asking “why?”
- Write letters. If you feel like you have so many things to say to your ex and you never got the chance to, write and rant and explain to him/her in your journal, and simply don’t send the letter in real life.
- Enjoy your newfound free time. Trying to save a sinking relationship takes up a surprising amount of energy, which is now free for new use! Focus on school with renewed determination. Call up old friends, try your hand at a new cooking recipe, or play soccer on the BSB lawn. Personally, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the pool at DBAC – I never had time or energy to go before, but these days I’m swimming at least 3 times a week! Being in the water can help a lot when you’re feeling cranky.
- Take time for self-care. If, some days, you just don’t feel like you can do it – it’s okay. Breakups are extremely taxing on both your mental and physical health, and you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to perform at the top of your game. Nobody is expecting you to right now. Go to bed early; read books just for fun; listen to music; treat yourself to a delicious dinner. Don’t be afraid to say no to external obligations, just like you would if you had the flu.
- Keep things in perspective. Re-evaluate your personal philosophy on how to ride the ups and downs of life (it’s easy to preach when you’re not currently in one of the downs!). At the end of the day, no one else but you is in charge of how you feel, so you need to take responsibility and be in control. Check out the podcasts at zencast.org for a perspective on living in the present and accepting things as they really are, rather than pining for how you wish they were. I personally recommend “The Wisdom of Impermanence,” “Patience,” or “Exploring Forgiveness and Loving Kindness” from zencast.org.
Let go of the pain, but don’t let go of the valuable lessons that can be learned. If you treat this like a growth opportunity, it will be one.