5 steps to get over a breakup, according to therapists

Break up
During a breakup, you should lean on your friends and family for support. Jamie Grill/Getty Images
  • Before you start the healing process of getting over a breakup, you should give yourself space to feel your feelings.
  • You should also focus on self-care by meditating, exercising, or doing what you like to do for fun.
  • To truly get over a breakup you should also cut off communicating with your ex – at least for now.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

A breakup is the closing of a chapter, and it’s absolutely normal to grieve this. Not only are you grieving the loss of a romantic relationship, but you’re also grieving the loss of everything that comes along with it. No wonder it hurts so much.

Here are five therapist-approved tips for how to get over a breakup:

1. Rely on your loved ones

Just because you’ve lost a loved one in a breakup doesn’t mean that you don’t still have plenty of other people who love you. Use that network to your advantage.

“A lot of people’s instinct is to isolate when they’re going through a break-up rather than lean into their natural support system. While some downtime to let yourself cry and process feelings in solitude is also an important breakup tool, community support is the number one tool for getting over it,” says psychotherapist Haley Neidich, LCSW.

Neidich says you should talk to the people you feel the most supported by, and tell them what your needs are. For example, sometimes you might feel like pouring your heart out and venting about the breakup, and other times you might just want some company to help you get your mind off of the breakup and onto something more fun. Either way, your support system is there to help you through tough times like these.

2. Feel your feelings

The pain from a breakup isn’t fun, but it’s important to allow yourself to feel all the emotions that come along with the breakup in order to process it and ultimately grow from it.

“When processing a breakup, you want to strike the right balance between staying busy and distracted and allowing yourself to be down and feel your emotions,” says Neidich. Some things you can do to get in touch with your emotions are:

  • Make a breakup playlist
  • Talk through the breakup with friends and family
  • Journal about what you are feeling

Neidich says journaling is a great tool during breakups, and just a five-minute daily practice can help you purge your emotions and get in touch with your feelings. You can write about anything, but a 2015 study showed that writing about negative memories associated with your breakup can help you move on faster.

“If you’re having panic attacks or don’t feel emotionally safe to feel those feelings on your own, you may want to seek out a counselor who can support you through your journey,” says Neidich.

3. Focus on self-care

Self-care is key for getting over a breakup with grace, says Neidich. Breakups can wreak havoc on your mental health, so it’s crucial to practice self-care to keep yourself mentally well.

You’ll want to focus on self-care that is both emotional and practical. For emotional self-care, you want to come up with ways to help you cope with feelings of emotional insecurity, self-scrutiny, and other negative feelings that may arise.

4. Limit social media usage

One of the most common reasons that breakups drag on is because of social media, Neidich says.

If you’re constantly on social media and either seeing your ex or their friends and family pop up on your feed this is going to trigger you and only prolong the healing process. This is even backed by research. A 2012 study found that keeping up with your ex’s facebook resulted in more distress and longing.

For this reason, Neidich recommends unfollowing your ex’s social media accounts and the accounts of any friends or family members that are triggering.

However, even if you aren’t seeing your ex on your feed, social media can still contribute to negative emotions. Seeing pictures of happy couples, engagements, and weddings may be equally as triggering to you because you will be sucked into the comparison game.

If you feel like social media is making your breakup worse for whatever reason, Neidich says you can take a 10-day social media hiatus to give yourself a break and time to focus on healing.

5. Cut off communication with your ex

Lastly, to truly get over your breakup, you need to cut ties with your ex, at least temporarily. “When a relationship is done, let it be done,” says Neidich.

This can mean on top of unfollowing on social media, you might need to also delete your ex’s number, depending on your self-control. Neidich also recommends not speaking to your ex at all for several weeks.

“Some people want to remain friends after a break-up. While this might be possible in the future, cutting off all communication for a lengthy period of time is essential to let your heart heal and move beyond the deep pain that often accompanies the end of a relationship,” says Neidich.

Insider’s takeaway

We can’t sugar coat it. Breakups aren’t easy. It’s important to be patient as you proceed with the healing process. You won’t get over a breakup overnight. Wounds take time to heal, and the emotional pain from a breakup is no different. Follow these tips, and above all, take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. With time, you’ll be feeling much better, guaranteed.

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