I Broke Up With My Girlfriend: Coping Strategies To Move Forward

Updated February 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When you experience a breakup, it may feel complex or emotionally draining. Yes, you have succeeded in learning how to break up with your girlfriend, but still, the pain and heartbreak alongside it could be overwhelming, leaving you feeling lost and uncertain about the future. However, you're not alone, as break ups are a part of life for many. Over 60% of Americans have experienced the end of a relationship at some point, and the majority of them have come out on the other side feeling optimistic for the future.

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Discover coping strategies to possibly help you after a breakup

Coping strategies that may help you move forward after a breakup

If you're feeling heartbroken and ready to start the healing process, these coping strategies can potentially help you move forward.

Take time to grieve 

It can be normal and okay to feel sad and experience a range of emotions after a breakup. It’s important to allow yourself to feel and process your feelings rather than trying to push them aside or ignore them. Studies show that suppressing your emotions may harm your physical and mental health. 

Practice self-care

Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get plenty of rest, eat well, and engage in activities that may help you relax and feel good about yourself. You might also try an activity like mindfulness, which has been studied and proven to improve mental health and focus. 

Seek support 

It might feel rewarding to talk to someone about your feelings, whether they're a trusted friend or family, a therapist, or a support group. Communicating your experiences with others may help you feel less alone and give you a sense of perspective, especially if it’s been a long time since you’ve been single.

Regardless of your situation, you are not alone. You might seek support from friends and family or professional help through therapy. There may be many ways to cope with a breakup and start feeling better with the right resources and support. Additionally, becoming a solid support system for yourself may help you feel safe, cared for, and loved if you struggle to find an external support system. Therapy can help you learn to practice self-compassion and care. 

Find healthy ways to cope 

It’s best to find healthy ways to cope with your feelings rather than turning to unhealthy habits like substance use. Engaging in activities that bring you joy and help you relax, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones, may be helpful.

Additionally, finding a release for your emotions could be beneficial. For example, many individuals try journaling or expressive writing, like poetry, to be beneficial when trying to release emotional pain. 

Research has shown that active coping strategies, such as exercise, journaling, or engaging in meaningful activities, can help increase resilience following a breakup and benefit you in the long run. While the healing process may feel challenging and take time, these coping strategies can provide helpful support and ultimately lead to increased self-esteem and improved well-being. 

Set boundaries 

After a breakup, it’s time to consider establishing boundaries with your ex. It's not impossible for you to ask, "Should I break up with my girlfriend?" Doing so may mean limiting contact or setting guidelines for communication. Establishing these boundaries could help you move on or feel you have the space to process the breakup, which is especially important if it took a long time to break off an unhealthy relationship.

Refocus on your goals 

Breakups could be an opportunity to refocus on your personal goals and dreams. If you had a goal during your relationship that you put off, consider returning to it. Draft up a plan for how you could start to move toward your goal and make changes in your life. 

Take it one day at a time 

Moving forward after a breakup can be difficult, so don't pressure yourself to get over it quickly. You may find moving on even more challenging if the thought “it’s time to break up” was due to circumstance rather than a change in your feelings. It's okay to take things at your own pace and to try different coping strategies until you find what works best for you. Try to be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to heal. With time and self-care, you may move forward.

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Have a "closure ceremony" 

If you feel that having closure would help you move on from your relationship, it may be beneficial to make a ceremony out of it. Gather items from your relationship that you feel comfortable parting with. Pack them in a box. What you do with the box is up to you. 

You might bury the items somewhere significant to you, burn a letter from your ex, or throw them away. As you do so, consider writing a letter to your past self, letting them know you're ready to move on. You might also write a letter to your ex, but try not to send it, as it may cause future hurts. 

Often, the purpose of closure is to decide that you're ready to move forward and cut off any future contact or possibility of romance with your ex. If there are any unsaid words or feelings, you might benefit from writing them down or speaking them out loud as you get rid of the items from your past. Consider if you want to involve friends and family if they’ve helped you process the end of your relationship.

Practice self-soothing 

Breaking off a relationship can take a toll on your body and mind. Have a night at home where you commit to indulging in your five senses through self-care. Find one calming activity that allows you to interact with each sense. For example, you might try the following: 

  • Sight: Watch your favorite movie, light candles, look at photos that make you feel happy, paint a picture, do a puzzle, look at scrapbooks, create a photobook
  • Smell: Light a scented candle, light incense, clean your home, wear clean laundry, add clean sheets to your bed, open a window, and smell nature (if possible) 
  • Sound: Play your favorite calming music, play rain sounds, play an instrument, listen to white noise, sing a song 
  • Taste: Eat your favorite treat, have a snack, make a delicious dinner, go to your favorite restaurant, order takeout
  • Touch: Wear comfortable clothes or pajamas, ensure your bed is comfortable, sit in a comfy chair, play with a sensory fidget, cuddle with your pets, take a warm bubble bath or shower, put on lotion 

When you can target all five of your senses, you might find that you start to feel better or more emotionally calm. Caring for yourself can mean allowing yourself a night to relax and indulge in what feels best to you, as long as it is healthy. 

What to do if these strategies don't work

If these strategies don't seem to be helping, it may signal that you need additional support. Consider speaking with a therapist or counselor who can offer professional help and guidance as you work through your emotions after the breakup. 

A mental health professional may provide an objective perspective and may be able to give you tools and techniques to help manage your feelings in healthier ways. Everyone may heal differently, so try not to be discouraged if one approach doesn't work for you. With time and patience, healing is possible.

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Discover coping strategies to possibly help you after a breakup

Counseling options

Online therapy may be a convenient and effective way to receive mental health support. One benefit of online therapy is the flexibility it offers. With online therapy, you could seek support from anywhere with an internet connection, making it a valuable option for those who may have difficulty making it to in-person appointments due to location, mobility issues, or busy schedules. 

Another benefit of online therapy is the possibility of choosing from a wide range of online therapists and the ability to choose which approaches you want to take. Whether you're struggling with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, or something else, online therapy might be a valuable resource for finding the support you need.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, online counseling can effectively manage mental health issues following a breakup. The study found that online therapy may help reduce depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms. Further, some participants reported improved social functioning and quality of life after using online therapy. These findings suggest that online therapy may provide practical support for those who have recently experienced a breakup and are struggling with related mental health issues. 

Takeaway 

Breakups may be a challenging and emotional experience. However, you can try several coping strategies, including journaling, expressive writing, mindfulness, exercise, eating healthy, and practicing healthy sleep habits. Not only will you feel better after the breakup, but you’ll be in a healthier place when you’re ready to pursue a new relationship. If you want further guidance, consider reaching out to a counselor for support. 

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