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Getting Over a Break-Up

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

If you've just had a break-up and are feeling down, you're not alone. Just about everyone experiences a break-up at some point, and many then have to deal with heartbreak — a wave of grief, anger, confusion, low self-esteem, and maybe even jealousy all at once.

What Exactly Is Heartbreak?

Lots of things can cause heartbreak. Some people might have had a romantic relationship that ended before they were ready. Others might have strong feelings for someone who doesn't feel the same way. Or maybe a person feels sad or angry when a close friend ends or abandons the friendship.

Although the causes may be different, the feeling of loss is the same — whether it's the loss of something real or the loss of something you only hoped for. People describe heartbreak as a feeling of heaviness, emptiness, and sadness.

How Can I Deal With How I Feel?

Most people will tell you you'll get over it or you'll meet someone else, but when it's happening to you, it can feel like no one else in the world has ever felt the same way. If you're experiencing these feelings, there are things you can do to lessen the pain.

Here are some tips that might help.

Let It Out

  • Share your feelings. Some people find that sharing their feelings with someone they trust — someone who recognizes what they're going through — helps them feel better. That could mean talking over all the things you feel, even having a good cry on the shoulder of a comforting friend or family member. If you feel like someone can't relate to what you're going through or is dismissive of your feelings, find someone more sympathetic to talk to.
  • Don't be afraid to cry. Going through a break-up can be really tough, and crying can be a big help. If you don't want to cry in front of anyone, just a find a place where you can be alone, like crying into your pillow at night or in the shower when you're getting ready for the day.

Be Kind to Yourself

  • Remember what's good about you. Sometimes people with broken hearts blame themselves for what's happened. They may get really down on themselves. If you find this happening to you, remind yourself of your good qualities. If you can't think of anything because your broken heart is clouding your view, ask your friends to remind you.
  • Take good care of yourself. Get lots of sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly to decrease stress and feel better about yourself.
  • Do the things you normally enjoy. Whether it's seeing a movie or going to a concert, do something fun to take your mind off the negative feelings for a while.
  • Keep yourself busy. Sometimes this is difficult when you're coping with sadness and grief, but it really helps. This is a great time to redecorate your room or try a new hobby. That doesn't mean you shouldn't think about what happened — working things through in our minds is all part of the healing process — it just means you should do other things too.
  • Give yourself time. It takes time for sadness to go away. Almost everyone thinks they won't feel happy again, but the heartbreak almost always gets better after a while. But how long will that take? That depends on what caused your heartbreak, how you deal with loss, and how quickly you tend to bounce back from things. Getting over a break-up can take a couple of days to many weeks — or longer.

Sometimes the sadness is so deep — or lasts so long — that a person may need some extra support. If you feel depressed, are not starting to feel better after a few weeks, are using alcohol or drugs to feel better, or feel like you want to hurt yourself or someone else, talk to your doctor, a trusted adult, counselor, or therapist.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2018