When a relationship ends, it’s really hard to move forward—whether you were the one to end the relationship or not. That’s partly due to a chemical called Oxytocin that is released in the brain when you affectionately touch another person. This chemical is tied to feelings of trust, attachment and positive memories (which seem to be remembered more intensely than the bad times). After a relationship ends, this trust and attachment doesn’t just go away. You have to actively break the bond.
Breaking the Bond
Here are some practical ways to help yourself heal after a breakup, or finally cut ties with your Ex:
1. Avoid them
No pictures, no touching, no interacting. What does that mean? Well, try starting with no contact on Instagram or Snapchat, put away their pictures, no more calling/texting, etc. Every time you see a picture of them, touch them, or even hear their voice, your brain releases a little more Oxytocin, which can trigger those feelings you had for that person. That’s not the effect you want if you are trying to move on. By avoiding them, you allow your brain to break the chemical bond you shared with them. If you have to see them in school, do your best to focus on your friends while walking the halls, consciously looking for them instead of looking for your ex.
2. Talk and cry it out (safely)
It is SO important to find someone trustworthy that can help you process this loss. It’s also important to give yourself time to grieve. It’s okay to cry! Even if you are a guy. Just make sure you give yourself a safe, private place to do so, or you may be at school in the middle of a math test and suddenly not be able to hold it together.
3. Stay busy, get distracted!
Staying busy will not only get your mind off the breakup, but can also help you heal, especially if you are volunteering or doing charity work. Studies show that volunteer or charity work increases self confidence, combats depression and helps you stay physically healthy. So join a sports team, start that hobby you’ve always wanted to try, pick up an instrument, join a club, or volunteer to help get your mind off and past your Ex.
4. Move it….Exercise!
Exercise is not only good for your physical health, it also helps repress the stress hormone released in the brain that can cause feelings of depression and anxiety.
5. Use music or videos to redirect your thoughts.
The message in music DOES seep into your brain and affect your thinking, so pick music that will give you positive messages, makes you feel confident, and reminds you that you will survive this break-up. Look around for awesome break-up playlists on Spotify, or find some fun, hoppin’ youtube videos that cheer you up or make you feel empowered.
6. Journal (write down emotions and thoughts)
Writing can help you process your emotions, get out your frustration and anger, as well as record your moments of clarity about why you think it’s best that the relationship ended. That way, in times when you can only remember the good things in your relationship, this written record can help you remember why it may be a good idea the relationship is over.
7. Eat protein, reduce sugar.
Sounds random, but it actually helps! Eating sugary foods (like ice cream, candy or even carbs like pasta, pizza and breads that eventually turn to sugar), causes spikes and drops in your blood sugar which leads to mood swings. Ever feel super tired, depressed or cranky if you go too long without food but then feel better after eating something? That’s from your blood sugar levels. If you replace the sugary treats with forms of protein (such as chicken, steak, tofu, beans, nuts, quinoa, etc) your blood sugar stays more level throughout the day. Yay for no mood swings!