I remember so well my first broken heart. It was 9th grade and Bobby Fortunato, the guy of my dreams, had just broken up with me. We had been going out for two whole weeks. My mom took pity on me and let me stay home in bed and eat jello. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Truly, there might be nothing as bad as a broken heart.
The pain, both in your heart and in your head, is almost unbearable. The end of a relationship is like a death… you grieve for your loss and you feel a huge emptiness, one that you are sure you will never again be able to fill.
I am here to tell you there are ways to survive a broken heart not only intact but even better than you were before.
#1 – Pay Attention your body.
Most likely your body is in physical pain, the result of psychological suffering. And the most likely center point of that pain is your stomach. The pain is sharp and relentless and makes you feel like you are going to die.
That pain is from anxiety. Anxiety that you are less than, that you will never love again, that you will be alone, that you are unlovable. That pain comes directly from your brain, from your thoughts.
Not so helpful, right?
There are two ways to deal with that pain.
The first is to talk back to that brain of yours. Tell it that it is being ridiculous. That you are amazing, that this loss will only create new opportunities, that you aren’t now, nor ever will you be, alone. It’s not easy but you can do it.
The second is to remember to breathe. Big deep breaths that go down to your belly. Breath in for 3 seconds and out for 4. This kind of breathing will actually calm the stress response in your body, ease your stomach pain and help clear your head. Repeat as necessary.
#2 – Manage your media.
This is a key element in grief management. You have music, you have video, you have social media. USE THEM. They will get you out of your head and inspire you to be powerful. I make a playlist when I am going through hard times. The songs are about empowerment, about survival, about living life fully. They go on my I-phone and then get played in my car as I go about my day. And yes, I sing along. Loudly.
Movies work the same way. There are so many movies out there about overcoming the odds, getting through hard times and emerging better than before. Find them. Watch them. Be inspired by them. Even cry with them (yes, crying is ok. even good. sometimes great. but don’t wallow).
Be careful of social media. Yes, it is a great tool for feeling connected and distracted but if you have a tendency to stalk, and it causes you pain, then tread lightly. YouTube might be better than Facebook…or so my teenage daughter tells me.
#3 – Do Good.
Nothing feels better than helping out someone in need.
Helping out someone else while you are at your lowest feels even better, believe it or not. When you are grieving it is really easy to turn inside yourself, to feel like you are in the worst place a person could be. And while where you are does suck, there are others out there who are as bad off or worse. And by helping them you are also helping yourself.
There are plenty of ways to help out. You can help an elderly neighbor mow their lawn, you can volunteer at a library and help children learn to read. Hospitals are always in need of people to help in a variety of capacities. I worked in palliative care for a while. Wow, did that give me some perspective and appreciation of the life I was living.
Pick one. Do it. See how good it makes you feel and make someone else feel better in the process.
#4 – Get hot.
Yes, you read that right. Get hot.
Exercise is one of the best ways to manage grief. During exercise your body produces endorphins and endorphins actually make you feel better. And, as a side benefit, exercise also gets you in shape.
Imagine having the body that you have always wanted – you know what body I am talking about. Now is the time to get it. Start exercising to help manage your grief and use it to get in great shape and to feel better about yourself.
And, while it’s not about revenge, let your ex eat his heart out when next he sees you!
#5 – Believe, believe, believe.
Yes, right now your heart is broken. You just can’t imagine being able to get through this day or the next. You know that you will never love or be loved again. Sigh.
No! You have to believe. You have to believe that your great love is out there. That you are more than a little loveable and that what you are going through is only temporary. Think about what you want and work on truly believing that you will get it. And then take the steps to do so.
You can do it!
And, if you are feeling hot and full of self confidence from all that exercise and surviving your grief, imagine what that special someone will think when they first lay eyes on you. WOW! Now that’s a great place for your pesky brain to go, don’t you think?
Your world seems like it is over but it’s not. There are ways to survive a broken heart, even if it seems impossible.
Use my coping techniques and not only will you get through today and tomorrow in one piece but you will build the strength of body and character that will ultimately help you achieve your dreams and find the love of your life.
If you’ve made it this far you must really be struggling with a broken.
Let me help get you there, NOW, before your pain overwhelms you.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.