5 steps to heal from a relationship break-up

A lot of people come to me following a relationship break-up as they struggle to cope with the heartbreak they are going through. Break-ups are horrible, whether the relationship lasted a few weeks or multiple decades. The steps below are designed to help you navigate your way through it so that you can heal and become the best version of yourself.


1. Cry

Give yourself permission to grieve for the relationship. It’s important to remember that you’re not just grieving the past, you’re also grieving the future you envisioned spending together.

When a relationship ends, we go through the stages of grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross theorised that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You might experience some or all of these stages. Some people dip in and out of different stages until they come to a state of acceptance. Do you recognise any of these stages in your own experience?

Denial is where we’re still in a state of shock that it’s over and we think there may be a chance of getting back together. Anger is where we feel rage toward our former partner. Bargaining is where we wonder if we could have done things differently to prevent the break-up from happening. Depression is when we feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and hopelessness. Acceptance is where we accept that the relationship is over and we need to move on.

2. Spend time with friends and family

Go to that party! Yes, I know you don’t want to but go anyway. It’s so easy to isolate yourself and retreat into the doom and gloom. Friends and family can be a great distraction and can make you feel a little less alone in the world. Think about who you can contact right now for support, what’s stopping you from reaching out? Surround yourself with those who care about you as much as possible, particularly during those first few weeks following the break-up.

3. Start therapy

I know I’m biased with this one but talking really does help. Therapy can really support you through a break-up and help to speed up the process. Therapy gives you a safe and supportive space where you can say out loud all of the thoughts that have been racing through your mind. It helps you to process what has happened and work on who you are now and where you go from here. As we go through heartbreak, we experience a loss of part of our identity which leads to us feeling lost and confused. Therapy can support you to find out who you are outside of that relationship and work to rebuild your self-esteem.

4. Exercise

Working out regularly keeps your mind and body healthy. Exercise is proven to reduce stress. If you’re a couch potato, a full-on gym routine might feel too daunting but a short walk each day is manageable. Think about what is realistic for you and what will fit into your life. Try to make exercise enjoyable. This could be attending a dance class with fun music or going for a jog around a beautiful country park.

5. Try something new

This could be a course, a new sport, a new hobby, or anything that gets you out of your comfort zone and challenges you. Learn Greek, start kickboxing, plan the trip of a lifetime, train for a marathon, the list is endless! The idea here is to make life exciting again and to give you hope for the future. You will get through this.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Written by Zara Whiteley, BA (Hons), CertEd, PGDip, MBACP
Manchester M3 & London NW4

Zara Whiteley is a psychotherapist and freelance writer.

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