11 Expert-Approved Ways To Get Over A Breakup Successfully And Healthily

"We have to — as a general rule — really do our work when it comes time for a breakup."

Let's just come right out and say it: breakups suck. No matter how mutual or amicable the separation, it can still be a painful, and even traumatic, experience. That probably explains why so many people search far and wide for advice on how to get over a breakup. Because when it comes to mourning lost love, we could all use as much help as we can get. 

That's why it's so important to find healthy ways to get over a breakup, even when all you want to do is listen to sad breakup songs and watch classic breakup movies with a pint of ice cream. While those coping mechanisms can certainly help us get through the early wallowing stages, they're not viable long-term solutions to heartbreak

Luckily, this expert-approved breakup advice will get you through every stage of the breakup process and beyond. These 11 breakup tips won't just help you get over an ex, but empower you to get into your single life.  

1. Cut off contact.

This is the first thing you should do to get over an ex, according to breakup expert Kate Galt. "Give it 30 days," she told A Plus. "I find it's important for our brains to have a deadline... so put it in a calendar." At the end of the 30 days, you can reassess your feelings and decide if you've made enough personal progress that reinitiating contact with an ex is healthy. 

"Of course, the reason that works is out of sight, a little more out of mind," Galt explained. "The heart is very busy trying to figure out how to feel now because there's a void there and so... just let the heart relax a little bit." That's why she encourages newly single people to make it as hard as possible to get in contact with their ex. "Don't even have their phone number, in case you have a weak moment where you've had something to drink and you feel like you're just gonna call them because everything makes sense at that moment," she said. "...I have seen it a hundred times where [exes] get in contact with each other, and all the wounds reopen." While you may want to get closure, it's important to give yourself enough time to heal those wounds on your own first.

2. Stay away from your ex's social media.

A 2012 study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that people who cyberstalk their exes' Facebook profiles are more likely to have negative feelings for the person, more likely to desire that person, and less likely to grow from the breakup. On top of Galt's suggestion to cut off direct communication with an ex, it's important to resist keeping tabs on them via indirect forms of communication, like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, too. And just like deleting their phone number, it may be best to block your ex — temporarily — so you take away the temptation of "just checking up" on them. Even looking at the most seemingly harmless Instagram story can open up a whole can of worms.

To give yourself a fresh start, you may want to consider taking some time to go off the grid, even if that just means an hour less a day. If that feels good, you may want to try a social media cleanse for a few days and use that time to reconnect in person with family, friends, and nature. 

3. Go out into nature.

"Let nature soothe you; let nature heal you; let nature allow you to grieve," Galt said. "The grieving process is really important." She especially recommends sitting by a body of water, like a stream or lake, for a few hours to give yourself as much time as you need to heal. 

Getting out into nature aids in the healing process because it's a form of change you can control. You can choose where you want to go and what you want to do there, even if that means nothing. Simply appreciating nature can put your breakup into perspective by reminding you that the world is still full of possibilities, and you're free to explore them all.

4. Make new friends.

If you and your ex share mutual friends, you will most likely have to let some of them go as you work through the breakup process. "This is really tricky, and it's sad ... but at least for the first year your friends have to choose sides because you can't hang out with somebody who knows your ex and who's hanging out with your ex all the time," Galt said. "It really does just not work, so do yourself a favor and cut that bond." That doesn't mean you can never be friends with them again; it just means you choose not to associate with someone who serves as a painful reminder of your ex until you moved on. 

In the meantime, Galt recommends making new friends by trying new things and going to new places. "Get some freshness into your life because ... you cannot stay stagnant in your life," she said. "It's such a beautiful window when you do break up to reinvent yourself." 

5. Celebrate your single self.

While a breakup may not seem like the time for celebration at first, the more time you devote to rediscovering yourself as a single person, the more you'll realize how awesome you've become. "The personal power of overcoming any traumatic event is huge for self-growth and development," Galt noted. That means it's a great time to try new things and/or rediscover your love of something you stopped doing when you entered into your relationship. Whether it's binge-watching a TV show your ex didn't like or taking long solo runs, if it makes you happy, it's worth doing. 

Still, Galt advises against completely reverting back to your pre-relationship self. "It takes a whole paradigm shift. You're a new person now," she explained. "... Come from a different place of not what you used to do, because you're not going backwards. You've actually grown from this relationship, and now you might have some new interests to pursue." 

6. Keep yourself busy.

When you're going through a breakup, you often find yourself with more free time. Galt encourages people to make the most of it by finding productive ways to stay busy. "It doesn't mean zone out all the time and watch TV. It means being methodical in the ways that you keep yourself busy so your mind doesn't race," she said. This is especially important at night or any time you find yourself thinking about your ex. One of the toughest parts of getting over an ex is not letting yourself get stuck in vicious thought cycles wondering what went wrong. 

Instead, Galt suggests doing a meditation or visualization that can help you refocus and get you out of your own head. Guided meditations have proven helpful in calming anxiety and alleviating stress for many people, especially at the end of a long day. If you've never done it before, try meditating for a week and see how you feel. It won't work like magic, but it can be a helpful resource to have at your disposal throughout the breakup process

7. Journal.

Many relationship experts cite journaling as a productive breakup strategy. "Just keep writing. It doesn't matter what you write ... Don't judge it," Galt advised. "It's just letting yourself process the breakup through writing and being alone and getting to know yourself better that way." 

While you should feel free to get all your emotions out during the initial grieving process, some research does suggest that journaling about the negative feelings caused by a breakup can actually make you feel worse. However, writing about the positive things, no matter how small, can help you cope, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Participants who spent four days writing "redemptive narratives" about how their breakup turned into a positive experience, such as giving them the opportunity to pursue a new interest or make a new friend. At the end of the experiment, they felt less distressed. Journaling is also a powerful tool because it provides you with concrete evidence showing the ways your breakup has actually benefitted whenever you need it.

8. Talk through it.

While it may be painful to talk about your breakup with friends and family, it's one of the best ways to receive support and validation of your emotions. Others outside the relationship can provide some insight on your situation that you wouldn't be able to achieve on your own. That said, it's important to establish healthy boundaries with your loved ones so every conversation doesn't become about your ex. Galt recommends asking a friend to be your "accountability buddy" that helps you avoid from unhealthy breakup behaviors, from texting your ex to talking too much about them. 

It may also help to talk to a neutral third party, like a breakup coach or general therapist, as they can provide an additional level of expertise. "Trained coaches move forward, and they help the grieving process as well," Galt said. "...That coach can help you make boundaries so that [your] accountability buddy isn't rolling their eyes every time you talk about your ex. They know what to say, and they know when to cut it off when it's not healthy processing anymore." Ultimately, the key is finding someone(s) who you can talk to that helps move the conversation forward, not backwards. 

9. Run it out.

You can't run away from your problems, but you can run to overcome them. Or do strength training, ride a bike, take a yoga class — however you like to exercise. We all know exercise gives you endorphins, which in turn make you happy, but exercise holds additional stress and anxiety-relieving benefits as well. 

Beyond the regular mental health benefits, exercise can help increase your self-confidence and sense of accomplishment. Every time you look in the mirror, you'll know how strong, fast, or flexible you are and everything you've done to make that possible. 

10. Take your time.

It took time to get into a relationship, and it may take even more time to get yourself out of one. While many consider the general recovery time to take half as long as the relationship, let yourself go at your own pace. "Don't tell yourself you should be over this person by X time because the heart doesn't work in our chronological time world," Galt said. "... Your heart does not know the difference between a car accident and a breakup. It all feels so harsh."

So while friends may try to tell you it's "about time" you got back into the dating scene, listen to your heart and trust your judgment. As anyone who's gone through a breakup will tell you: it's a marathon, not a sprint. So cut yourself some slack if it's taking you longer to process your emotions than you expected. After all, one perk of being single is not having to worry about sticking to anyone else's schedule — except your own. 

11. Do the work.

Getting over a breakup is often a bigger challenge than we let on. It's easy to pretend like you're OK, but it's a lot harder to work through the breakup process to get to the point where you're actually OK. But that's why it's important to do it. "We have to — as a general rule — really do our work when it comes time for a breakup," Galt said. "Because if we don't process the grief, if we don't start to understand ourselves better, and if we stay in saboteur mode where we're beating ourselves up, then the next time we get into a relationship... and we break up with that second [person], we'll have to process all the things in the first boyfriend or girlfriend over and over." 

Entering into a new relationship before you've given yourself the time and space to get over the old one is a quick fix that might make yourself feel better at first, but can have dangerous long-term effects. Because every failed relationship teaches you something new about yourself, it's important to learn those lessons — as hard as they may be — and strive to apply them in your everyday life. Eventually, you'll realize that working through your breakup helped you become a better person for your next relationship.

Cover image via rawpixel on Unsplash

GET SOME POSITIVITY IN YOUR INBOX

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.