This month I have been using IPT strategies to help my clients express emotions as a way of helping some of my clients cope with relationship breakups.  

Going through a breakup can be difficult, even if you’re the one who’s chosen to end things. You may experience a rollercoaster of emotions, and some of these can last for a long time. There’s also the practical side of things; maybe you lived together or spent a lot of time with each other’s families, meaning that when you break up, your social life, living and financial circumstances are impacted.

All things considered, it’s not surprising that many people feel as though their world has been turned upside down after a breakup. You’re not only saying goodbye to a partner, which is hard and confusing enough, but you’re also closing that chapter of your life. So, even if splitting up feels like the right thing to do, the process of moving on can be painful and it can take a while for you to get back on your feet.

How can a breakup impact your mental health?

Like all stressful life events, a breakup can take its toll on your wellbeing. After a relationship ends, it’s normal to go through a whole spectrum of emotions, from sadness to anger, loneliness, hopelessness and sometimes even relief, depending on the circumstances.

Another common emotion that people feel is grief. A breakup is a loss; you’re losing a meaningful person in your life and the prospect of a future together, and it’s natural to mourn this. Breakups affect everyone differently and there’s no right or wrong way to feel, but it’s healthy to acknowledge and process your emotions as this will help you to move on.

How significantly a breakup impacts your mental health can depend on the circumstances around you. If you’re going through a stressful time outside of your relationship ending, you may find it harder to get over the breakup as it can bring other negative emotions to the surface or exacerbate how you’re already feeling.

Even if everything else in your life is running smoothly, a breakup can still cause short-term adjustment difficulties, like situational anxiety or depression, which manifest following a stressful event. You may also experience self-esteem issues or worry that there’s something wrong with you and that you won’t find love again. It’s important to remember that most of us will go through at least one breakup in our lives and reaching out for help can help you start to readjust your life.  Breakups don’t mean that we’re unlovable. More often than not, that person or the relationship timing just isn’t right for us.

How to move on from a breakup

When going through a breakup, there might be times when you question whether you’ll ever be able to move on, but try to be patient with yourself. There’s no set length of time for how long it takes to get over a relationship and it’s different for everyone. But eventually, you will be able to put it behind you and you may even find that positives come from the situation, like learning more about yourself and what you want from future relationships.

In the meantime, there are things that you can do to help yourself move on while building your self-esteem and protecting your mental health. You’re bound to have good and bad days, so try not to be too hard on yourself if you slip up or take a step backwards. The most important thing is that you show yourself kindness and patience during this difficult time.

Find ‘you’ again

When you’ve been in a relationship, especially long-term, it can be easy to forget yourself. It can be difficult to focus on the positives of coming out of your relationship right now, but you can learn to embrace this time as an opportunity for self-exploration.

Are there any activities you’ve always wanted to try, or places to travel and eat that you couldn’t before? Now’s the time to consider doing these things.

Give yourself space

‍When you break up with someone, it’s natural to miss them or wonder how they’re doing. You might be tempted to get in touch with them or check their social media. However, in order to move on, you need to create some distance so that you can adjust to life without them. This isn’t to say that they can never be in your life again, but space might help you to figure out what their new role looks like.

Prioritise self-care

‍There’s no doubt that a breakup can be tough on your wellbeing, so you need to show yourself extra care during this time. Be sure to pay attention to your needs and don’t push yourself to take on too much. It’s also a good idea to get into a healthy routine where you get enough sleep, exercise and make time for acts of self-care. Perhaps you could try a calming activity like reading a book or spending time in nature, or something fun, like hanging out with your loved ones.

How you handle new relationships

For some people, it’s tempting to ease the pain of a breakup by entering a new relationship. However, “rebounding” isn’t always wise, as it can negatively impact your new relationship.

Give yourself enough time to grieve and fully process your emotions before moving on. This time can, of course, vary from person to person.

Talk to someone you trust

‍A breakup can bring up a lot of emotions. Rather than bottle these up, it’s a good idea to talk about how you feel with someone you trust. This can help you to process what’s happened and get another perspective on the situation. Perhaps they’ve been through something similar and come out the other side, so they can offer you advice or hope for the future. Don’t go through it alone, the people in your life will want to know that you’re struggling.

Seek professional help 

Consider talking therapy with IC Therapies.  We offer Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which are both evidence-based therapy for treating depression.  IPT can encourage you to learn more adaptive patterns of coping with grief.  CBT encourages you to challenge negative thought patterns and help you to develop coping strategies. At IC Therapies, we provide a safe space where you can open up about your feelings without being judged. We can offer remote or face-to-face sessions.  

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