After all, the emotional stages of a breakup don’t happen linearly, so you might feel intensely angry early in the day but stricken with sadness later that evening. If you were the one dumped, you may also feel like any problems in the partnership were more reflective of a rough patch than a reason to break up. But even if you had planned to initiate the breakup, actually doing it is a different thing—and can leave you in a similarly chaotic state as if you were dumped.
- Aimee Daramus, PsyD, LCP, Chicago-based psychotherapist
- Jennifer Teplin, LCSW, psychotherapist and founder of Manhattan Wellness
- Susan Winter, relationship expert and author of Allowing Magnificence, Older Women/Younger Men, and Breakup Triage
- Maggie Mistal, certified life purpose and career coach
- Larry Letich, LCSW, Maryland-based psychotherapist and couples counselor
- Krystine Batcho, PhD, licensed psychologist and professor at Le Moyne College
- Kristina Headrick, yoga instructor, meditation expert, and founder of Yia Mas
- Kimberly Lucht, New York City-based life coach
- Katie Sandler, MS, life coach and mental health counselor based in Virginia
- Jess Carbino, PhD, relationship expert and former sociologist for Tinder and Bumble
- Helene Brenner, PhD, licensed psychologist and creator of the My Inner Voice app
- Alicia Sinclair, certified sex educator, certified sexuality coach, and founder of b-Vibe
- Goali Saedi Bocci, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist
- Erika Ettin, dating coach and founder of A Little Nudge
- Erica Feldmann, owner and founder of HausWitch
- Ellen Huerta, founder and CEO of Mend
- Dylan Grace Essertier, Brooklyn-based travel coach, writer, and speaker
- Debra Roberts, LCSW, relationship therapist, conversation expert, and founder of The Relationship Protocol
- Colin Bedell, astrologer, author, and the founder of QueerCosmos
- Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist, life fulfillment expert, and author of Date Smart, Joy From Fear, and Aging Joyfully
- Susie Moore, life coach and author of Stop Checking Your Likes
No matter the instigator and the circumstances around the end of the relationship, navigating how to deal with a breakup starts with addressing your personal needs. Because figuring out how to do that can be mentally taxing in and of itself, we tapped several experts across different wellness fields to compile this list of 99 things to do after a breakup. This way, you can spend less energy determining what to do after a breakup, and more energy doing it—and moving on.
99 things to do after a breakup to become a happier and healthier you
To take care of your immediate needs
1. Remember that you are human. “Heartbreak causes major physiological and neuro-chemical changes, and knowing that these changes are normal and expected will help you feel less alone in how you feel.” —Ellen Huerta, founder and CEO of the breakup app Mend
2. Cry. Don’t hold back your tears if you feel them bubbling up.“When we allow ourselves to cry, we feel better due to the release of pent-up emotions.” —clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD
3. Breathe. “Close your eyes, and slow your breath so that the length of your inhale matches the length of your exhale. Count to six as you breathe in, and six as you breathe out.” —Huerta
4. Hydrate. If you're crying often, this is especially important. Be sure to drink plenty of water.
5. Feel your feelings. “Drop any resistance to feeling your feelings, and just let them be. When you pay attention, listen, and sit with the sensations in your body, the pain will start to melt and subside.” —life coach Kimberly Lucht
6. Leave the house. “Get some fresh air. Go for a walk, get groceries, do an errand. The more quickly you reacclimate yourself to normal life, the more quickly you'll feel normal again.” —relationship expert Susan Winter
7. Make plans in advance—and stick to them. “When you have plans, it can be easier to get up in the morning.” —Lucht
To create some separation from your ex
8. Unfollow your ex on social media. “If you are tempted to internet-stalk your ex late at night, turn off your phone and hide it.” —clinical psychologist Goali Saedi Bocci, PhD
9. Resist any contact with your ex while feelings are raw. “Giving yourself time and space to separate from your ex helps you to regroup and start building your life away from them.” —relationship therapist Debra Roberts, LCSW
10. Think hard before reconnecting with any ex. “Try not to make decisions based on your current acute need to connect with someone. Instead, weigh the positives and the negatives of reconnection, and make your decision based on that info.” —Roberts
To heal your heart
11. Take a mental-health day from work. “It’s important to take some time off, especially if your performance might suffer or hurt your team.” —career coach Maggie Mistal
12. Laugh. For as long as possible, because doing so releases happy hormones.
13. Embrace the quiet. “You might have a hard time feeling your feelings. If you quiet yourself, you make room for feelings to come out, so they don’t eat at you.” —clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD
14. Meditate. There are so many different types of meditations you can explore to feel more centered and at ease when emotions are running high.
15. Be happy for others. “If we see everyone’s lives as their own experience rather than being in competition with one another, we can avoid some of the negative feelings.” —psychotherapist Jennifer Silvershein Teplin, LCSW
16. Lie on the ground for a few minutes. It’s a surprisingly simple way to get, well, grounded.
17. Hug extra hard. Hugging can be healthy for you, so make those squeezes count.
18. Send yourself little love notes. “We often let others know that we care for them, yet we rarely pause to give ourselves healthy doses of self-love. Sending a sweet love letter to yourself can be a tremendous way to increase your sense of self-appreciation.” —Dr. Manly
19. Consider going on a dating sabbatical (for a while, at least). “Many people jump back onto dating apps the minute they break up, which doesn't leave any time to process things. Online dating shouldn't be a Band-Aid or an ego boost—it's a tool to meet people. So, to start before you're emotionally ready does a disservice to both yourself and the people you may meet.” —dating coach Erika Ettin
20. Practice thought stopping. “When you're feeling down, imagine a big red stop sign, and yell ‘stop,’ then do something to switch gears. Go out, take a walk, call or text a friend or family member.” —clinical psychologist Helene Brenner, PhD
21. Follow an inspirational account on social media. “Inspirational quotes and bonding with others going through a breakup can often be highly therapeutic.” —Dr. Bocci
22. Seek out some inspiration from people you admire. Look for words of affirmation and healing from people you look up to, whether it’s your mom or Beyoncé.
23. Challenge your sadness. “Set a timer on your phone, and give yourself permission to feel bad for a certain amount of time. When the timer goes off, plan on doing something that will take you out of that feeling.” —psychotherapist Larry Letich, LCSW
To tend to your physical health
24. Take walks. Walks are one of the best wellness habits you can maintain as they offer a host of physical and mental health benefits, namely the ability to clear your head.
25. Exercise. Make time for movement of whatever type you like best. After all, exercise releases endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters) and myokines (aka “hope molecules”) that researchers suspect can act as a bulwark against depression.
26. Masturbate and orgasm. It’s no secret that masturbating can make you feel good, and we’ve got plenty of ideas for spicing up your masturbation practice if you could use something new. “Exploring your body on your own terms is incredibly empowering, and investing in your pleasure means you’re in the driver's seat of your sex life.” —certified sexologist Alicia Sinclair
27. Dance. Play your favorite song, and get to grooving, or try out this 10-minute cardio dance workout. “Movement is a great way to become deeply, inescapably present, which is tough when you're stuck in the pain of a breakup.” —Kristina Headrick, movement and meditation guide, and founder of wellness retreat company Yia Mas
28. Pick up a hula hoop. Just for a burst of childlike fun.
30. Give boxing a stab (then a jab). If you need to get out your aggression, try this boxing combo for beginners.
31. Take a pole-dancing class. Because this is just the time to be feeling yourself.
To get some emotional support
32. Find a therapist. “Not everybody needs to see a therapist post-breakup, but if you do, try a therapist database, like GoodTherapy.org or Psychology Today to find one who can support you.” —Dr. Daramus
33. Download a breakup app. “It plugs you into a community of people around the world who are sharing stories and advice with one another.” —Huerta
34. Capitalize on that first sympathy-heavy week. “Gather your allies, and surround yourself with loving and supportive friends. Ask them to make sure that you leave the house and, if need be, to call you to see that you've taken a shower and gotten dressed. Make time to see these allies for coffee, lunch, or dinner.” —Winter
To embrace self care
35. Practice self-care Sunday on any day of the week. “Get a haircut, paint your nails, or throw on a face mask.” —life coach Susie Moore
36. Find a soothing nighttime routine. “When I was single, candlelit yoga was one of the healthiest ways I'd spend a Friday or Saturday night. I was decompressing and tending to myself instead of hitting up loud and overwhelming clubs or bars.” —Dr. Bocci
37. Read. There are numerous emotional and mental health benefits of reading books. “It's a gorgeous, healthy escape, and you'll have interesting book stories to share on future dates.” —Moore
38. Binge-watch that buzzy show everyone's talking about. Consider your breakup a welcome reason to finally dive into that one show you haven’t gotten the chance to watch. (If you prefer to rewatch the same TV shows and movies, go for a more familiar favorite.)
39. Pet an animal: “A pet’s unconditional love and supportive presence does wonders for boosting a mood. Contact with loving pets naturally increases the level of feel-good neuro-chemicals in the nervous system.” —Dr. Manly
40. Make a Pinterest board of your favorite things. “When we're creating a Pinterest board, we're surrounding ourselves with things that feel and look good, which influences our overall feelings.” —Teplin
41. Enjoy hygge nights in. Embrace the JOMO (joy of missing out) that comes with fewer social obligations. Make your home a cozy and comfy oasis, then grab your favorite book or crossword puzzle, or put on your comfort movie.
Revisit your relationship (but only a little bit)
42. Note your ex's faults. “Make a detailed list of all the ways this person wasn’t right for you, and consult it often, but especially when you’re about to give in to the temptation to call, text, or follow them on social media.” —Letich
43. Write a letter to your ex—but don’t send it. “Let it all out, then mindfully burn it.” —impact coach Katie Sandler
44. Revisit the places that were "your spots" with your ex. Take a good friend to these places, and use the concept of exposure therapy to neutralize any emotions you may tie with them.
46. Declutter your space. Take after the time-honored saying, “Out with the old, in with the new.” A good place to start? Clearing out anything in your home that belongs to your ex.
47. Burn incense or candles to ignite your sense of smell. “Our senses are powerful tools, and while you may be feeling a lot of things during a breakup, sweetness and light may not be among them.” —Erica Feldmann, owner of metaphysical shop HausWitch
48. Redecorate. A little home refresh can help inspire a fresh start. Look through social media, magazines, and store displays for inspiration, and commit to getting a couple new decorative items. Strapped for cash or can’t find anything you like? Reconfiguring what you already own can have just as big an impact.
To reflect and introspect
49. Journal. Cracking open that Moleskine offers myriad mental health benefits.
50. Practice gratitude. It may be hard to feel grateful in the wake of a breakup, but if you make a point of looking for them, you’ll find things in your life for which you can practice gratitude. Doing so has been proven to decrease stress and improve sleep quality.
51. Introspect for personal growth. “As we look forward, we have a renewed freedom to grow beyond who we were in the relationship to become the person we genuinely hope to be. We shouldn't rush that process of becoming. We should cherish the time to recover the best of our past authentic self and discover new dimensions of our ideal self.” —clinical psychologist Krystine I. Batcho, PhD
52. Get in touch with your heritage. “Breakups rattle our sense of who we are. What better way to repair this, organically, than by connecting to your lineage? You may learn new things or discover a hobby that can help distract you and bring you out of rumination.” —Headrick
To expand your world with new experiences
53. Take yourself on a solo date. It's confidence-bolstering and reconnects you to the most important person in your life: you.
54. Travel, but only after researching. “The last thing you want is to spend a lot of money only to realize you've been duped 3,000 miles from home, especially after a traumatic event. Read reviews and email people who have been there.” —travel coach Dylan Grace Essertier
55. Take a trip with friends. Go anywhere in the world that you’ve been wanting to visit with the people closest to you, and get ready to make new memories.
56. Challenge your inner strength with a solo adventure. “Go to a new city by yourself, and rent a car to explore, or take a walking or boat tour. This focuses your mind, rallies your resources, and gets you away from the cues that remind you of your ex.” —Dr. Brenner
57. Begin learning how to speak a new language. It’s a helpful distraction that makes good use of your cognitive resources.
58. Try forest bathing. “[As you’re walking in nature], choose a tree that appeals to you, and feel the energy that's flowing into it from its roots all the way up into its leaves. Let yourself connect to all that life-giving energy.” —Dr. Brenner
59. Find a flow-state-inducing hobby. Entering flow is a soothing emotional distraction… and the perfect excuse to finally take up knitting (or whatever creative hobby you’ve been meaning to start).
61. Go on a wellness retreat. “Attending a retreat can be a great way to explore a beautiful new place, stay busy, and surround yourself with an uplifting community.” —Essertier
62. Buy a new sex toy. “If your go-to toy just doesn’t spark joy anymore, it’s time to retire it for an updated and upgraded one.” —Sinclair
63. Cook a new recipe. The possibilities are endless here. Try this soothing avgolemono soup recipe if you'd enjoy some Mediterranean comfort food.
64. Attend a sound bath. See if the vibrational energy shakes out any new sense of catharsis for you.
To tap into your spirituality
65. Try a reiki session. Any energy healing is welcome energy healing in the wake of a breakup.
67. Learn tasseography. It's similar in spirit to reading tarot cards, but with caffeine.
68. Hold healing crystals. Figure out the best types of crystals for your needs. You might like rose quartz, moldavite, or moonstone post-breakup.
69. Get familiar with your astrological chart. Your birth chart can unlock all sorts of interesting insights into your personality, which can bolster your self-confidence. “Focus on [astrological] houses five through eight and your Venus, moon, and Mars signs to consider how the relationship meshed with or clashed against your chart.” —astrologer Colin Bedell
70. Use those crystals to make a gem tincture. “Place a crystal in a clear glass of water in the sun for at least four hours. Fill a small dropper bottle halfway with the water, and then top it off with some brandy to preserve. Take a few drops under your tongue in the morning, or add it to your bath water, tea, or even cocktails.” —Feldmann
71. Reflect on your behavior in the relationship. Ask yourself if you like who you were with your ex. “If the answer is ‘no,’ resolve your intention to manifest a relationship in which you love the you that you are.” —Dr. Brenner
72. Listen to any music that helps you feel your mood. But for specific recommendations, try Joni Mitchell's Blue or Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel...when you're sad, Amy Winehouse's Back to Black when you feel despair, Cher when you need to be empowered, and Taylor Swift's Reputation when you're plotting your world takeover after picking yourself back up.
To reinvent your physical appearance
73. Give yourself a post-breakup makeover. But maybe enlist some second opinions before you grab the scissors.
74. Learn how to French braid. It's never too late to master the sleepover-chic look.
75. Start a new skin-care routine. It's called a "post-breakup glow" for a reason.
To focus on personal growth
77. Turn toward work. Now is a great time to build your career and boost your sense of personal ambition.
78. Build up your personal savings (when you're done impulse shopping). “Adopt the discipline of saving a set amount per month with automatic savings. It doesn’t have to be much—even saving five dollars at a time helps.” —financial expert Angela K. Holliday, president of Frost Investment Services
79. Find your unique genius. “Do something that feeds the genius in you and speaks to your interests, passions, or talents. You might not feel like it at first, but once you have time to really appreciate yourself and express all the wonderful qualities you possess, you'll feel better about life and work.” —Mistal
80. Project confidence even if yours is at a low point. Widening your stance and lifting up your chin can make a difference.
81. Reevaluate your finances. “Take a look at your budget with fresh eyes. You just went through a life change, and goals may have shifted.” —Holliday
82. Say "thank you." Express your gratitude often, especially to pals who are helping you through the breakup.
83. Smile. Smiling has many benefits1, and receiving a smile back can create a positive feedback loop.
To reconnect socially with others
84. Spend time with your family. “You’ve lost an important connection, so you might need to strengthen the connections you still have.” —Dr. Daramus
85. Be present when your loved ones go through their own difficult times. Empathy is a two-way street.
86. Make a friend in a different age bracket. You stand to learn a lot from an intergenerational friendship.
87. Get coffee with a coworker who you really admire. “When reaching out, point out accomplishments the person has achieved that impress you.” —Mistal
88. Talk to other people about your breakup, but avoid "the loop." “When you first go through a breakup, it's important to purge conflicting feelings. But after all that is said and done, resist the temptation to repeat endlessly.” —Winter
89. Talk to others about their breakups. Get yourself some outside perspective as a reminder to yourself that you're not alone.
90. Record "love memos." “When you're thinking about how great your ex is, instead, ask your closest friends to tell you how great a person you are, and how much they love you. Record them saying this on your phone, and play it as often as you need.” —Dr. Brenner
91. Meet up with the most interesting people you know. Whether it feels like networking for pleasure, or simply seeking out intriguing people with whom you may be able to work in the future, you can have fun in the process.
92. Have a long phone convo with that friend with whom you lost touch. Phoning a friend comes with serious health benefits, so why not reach out to someone you’ve been missing? You’ll have more free time on your hands and less intimate connection in your life without a partner, making the post-breakup period ideal for rekindling a friendship.
93. Be kind to everyone, even your ex's friends. “Put a smile on your face, say ‘Great to see you,’ and keep moving [if you spot your ex’s friends].” —Roberts
To find love again
94. Flirt. Lean into your flirting style, and test it out on anyone who gives you that spark.
95. Create a dating app profile. If you feel up to it, put together a dating app profile that encompasses your interests to find a fling or maybe your next partner—but don’t rush the process. Even just the act of compiling the profile can offer some helpful introspection.
96. Get the birth dates and times of anyone to whom you're attracted. Astrological compatibility is complex, but worth the deep dive.
97. Go on a real date again. “Get back out there, learn, and grow when you feel great about yourself.” —Sandler
98. Kiss someone new. When you're emotionally ready, relearning how to kiss someone new will be a delight.
99. Know that time heals all wounds: And that, truly, everything will be okay. You’ve got this.
Frequently Asked Questions About What To Do After a Breakup
What should you not do after a breakup?
You may have 99 ideas for what to do after a breakup, but for the sake of your mental health, it’s just as important to consider what experts say not to do. According to dating expert Jess Carbino, PhD, former sociologist for the dating apps Tinder and Bumble, it’s wise to avoid “doing things that are hyper radical” in the wake of a breakup, like moving across the country when you’ve never mentioned it before, or quitting your job without having considered the potential consequences.
You might feel like you have to do something drastic to recreate your new single identity, but because the post-breakup period can be emotional, you likely won’t be in the headspace to make the most considered decisions.
It’s a different story, however, if you’ve thought about making a particular change previously; for example, let’s say you’ve been talking about moving from New York to Los Angeles for years, and your breakup is what finally acts as the catalyst for doing so. This is a fair move to make, since it’s not a snap decision, says Dr. Carbino, “but give yourself a few months to really say to yourself, ‘Is this me talking, or is this hurt-me talking?’ [before making any net-new changes].”
For much the same reason, it’s also not a great idea to dive right into a new relationship after a breakup, says Dr. Carbino; the emotional stages of healing from a breakup won’t allow you to give a new bond a fair chance to develop. And by distracting yourself with a new relationship, you also may not be giving yourself adequate time and space to heal your previous one.
“I don't think it is beneficial for anyone to maintain contact with a [recent ex] because it doesn't allow for them to individually [heal].” —Jess Carbino, PhD, dating expert
Don’t contact your ex, either. More often than not, nothing helpful comes from these conversations, says Dr. Carbino. “I don't think it is beneficial for anyone to maintain contact with a [recent ex] because it doesn't allow for them to individually [heal],” she says. Instead, make a clean break—at least until you’ve processed the breakup and can move toward friendship.
How long does it take to get over a breakup?
The acute pain of losing a key person in your life won’t last forever. But it can take quite a while to process a breakup and truly move on, says Dr. Carbino, whether you're the individual who initiated the breakup or the one on the receiving end.
Generally, the dissolution of a lengthier, more committed relationship will take longer to recover from than that of a shorter one, where you didn’t form as much of a bond or connective tissue, as Dr. Carbino calls it, with your ex. (Even so, every person and relationship is different, and sometimes, the breakup of a short-term relationship can take a long time to get over, particularly if it happened in the honeymoon phase, when your hopes were nothing but high.)
So, how long can you expect it to take? For most shorter relationships, a general rule is that you can expect to process the breakup for about as long as you were in the relationship, says Dr. Carbino. So if you were in a hot and fast fling that ran its course over three months, you will likely feel mostly healed and like yourself again by three months after the breakup.
If you were in a lengthier relationship where your lives were intertwined for a year-plus—perhaps you met each other’s families and/or lived together—you can expect to be in at least some stage of healing from the breakup for at least one year, says Dr. Carbino. That’s because different seasons of the year may remind you of this person in different ways. “You go through the year and the journey of thinking, ‘What would I have done with this person that now I’m doing myself or with others?’ for each season,” she says.
What are the symptoms of a traumatic breakup?
Some breakups stay with you and live in your mind in ways you might not expect. If a breakup “really impacted [you] super emotionally in a way that [you] otherwise would not have expected, you may have gone through a traumatic breakup,” says Dr. Carbino. (To be clear, this is distinct from the ending of a toxic relationship that involved emotional or physical abuse.) Below, Dr. Carbino outlines the signs that you may be experiencing a traumatic breakup:
You’re neglecting your basic needs: A traumatic breakup can leave you so overcome with emotion and grief that you aren’t able to function normally. If you find yourself unable or unwilling to shower, eat regular meals, drink enough water, move around, or sleep post-breakup, seeing a mental health professional can help you get back on track.
You’re constantly thinking about your ex: If you find that your ex occupies the vast majority of your mental real estate such that you can’t focus on really anything else, that’s another key sign that you’re experiencing trauma in the wake of a breakup and may benefit from some outside support.
Your deepest insecurities have been triggered: “If a breakup doesn’t just feel like a rejection, but also like a simultaneous incitement of all these other issues you’re dealing with, that could mean it was traumatic,” says Dr. Carbino. For example, if you have a hard time trusting anyone because of childhood trauma, and an ex admits to cheating on you when they break up with you, that breakup is likely to stick with you and worsen your trust issues.
The same thing goes if the reason for the breakup relates to one of your insecurities—say, you have body-image issues, and your ex shared that your appearance is why they ended things. That kind of breakup is bound to dredge up old trauma and feel harder to shake as a result.
- Coles, Nicholas A et al. “A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable.” Psychological bulletin vol. 145,6 (2019): 610-651. doi:10.1037/bul0000194
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