Whether you’re freshly going through a breakup, recently went through one, or need to remember this post exists should you need it in the future (although I hope you don’t!), consider this your ultimate guide to nourishing yourself through a breakup.
This is the post I needed during my recent breakup that I didn’t have.
[Disclaimer: to any of my exes if you’re somehow reading this and take offense in any way, that’s okay. I’m sorry but this post isn’t for you.]
Okay back to my intended audience! The person who is going through a breakup and your earth feels shattered beneath you. Like your legs are made of jell-o and you have no clue which way is up, where to turn, or what the fuck to do now.
I broke-up with my fiance 3 months ago, cancelled our (nonrefundable eek!) wedding and moved home to Cape Cod where I hadn’t lived since I left for college at 18 years old.
Let’s just say the relationship didn’t work out the way I had hoped it would.
This post could also be for anyone just going through a rough time in general. Loss of a loved one, loss of any kind, health issue, big life transition, and more.
I’m a scorpio rising, aquarius sun and leo moon which means i’m not afraid to talk about hard shit especially if it will help others and i’m comfortable getting vulnerable in front of an audience.
I got your back. Let’s do this.
But first, just a little compassion and empathy for those who may feel shitty for engaging in any behaviors that may not feel super positive to you right now. To be honest, this was the first breakup EVER i’ve gone through in what I would consider a “healthy” way.
Absolutely no judgement for wherever you’re at in your breakup journey or what behaviors you are or aren’t partaking in that may not be considered “healthy.” Because what is “healthy” anyways?!
Sometimes we need to get through whatever we need to get through in whatever way we’re able to at the time. Judging ourselves for our journey doesn’t help us in any way.
So just to normalize some of the stuff that may currently be happening for you… After every other breakup i’ve gone through, I either:
- Numbed out with food
- Numbed out with booze
- Refused to eat
- Made myself sick anytime I did eat
- Rebounded on dating apps
- Got right into another relationship
- Became a couch potato
- Or stayed so busy I couldn’t hear myself think
Send yourself a boatload of compassion for whatever you’re doing right now to cope. It’s normal. Try and just take one teeny tiny piece of a suggestion from this post and see if it helps. If it doesn’t, no matter what you do just keep breathing. This too shall pass I promise.
Oh and here’s a little pick me up before we dive into our 10 ways to nourish yourself through a breakup. Did you know that single people are actually being studied for how happy they are?
There are TONS of benefits of being single so if you’re not jumping at joy at the thought of being alone that’s okay. Just know there are some serious bright sides even if you’re not ready to see them yet.
Without further ado, here are my top suggestions for how to nourish yourself through a breakup. You can skip to whichever section you’re feeling most drawn to by just clicking on it.
- Feel your feelings and breathe.
- Grab a journal.
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary.
- Move your body.
- Find fun with your friends/family.
- Food – do the best you can
- Get outside.
- Be grateful. (“ew, what?!”)
- Get a hobby
Feel your feelings and BREATHE
(Ew, I know..) I drank alcoholically for decades literally to avoid this so trust me I get it if that’s the last thing you want to do when going through something uncomfy. But I’ve also learned the hard way that your brain REALLY needs to poo too.. 💩
Meaning if you don’t flush your own mental health shit and process those feelings, they will buildup and come out one way or another and usually not in the healthiest way.
What i’ve learned is that if I allow myself to just feel the feeling, it’s WAYYYYY less painful than trying to avoid the feeling. Avoiding the feeling is way more painful (for me at least) than just feeling the feeling in the first place. You know?
I cried a lot this time around and let it ALL come pouring out. In the shower, the car, while packing up my shit to move, while unpacking my shit, listening to sad songs, at the dinner table, with friends, alone, on the phone, in the bathtub, at the spa, during a massage, literally everywhere.
If anyone is looking for my tears they are scattered across New England.
And remember… Grief comes in waves and back and forth stages. One minute you may feel relief or peace, and the next intense anger or sadness. Feeling something other than happy is not a setback.
Along with feeling your feelings, it’s good to just simply remember to breathe. Our natural response to stress is to tense up.
Personally, i’m a teeth grinder, shoulders-jacked-up-to-my-ears, instant headache type person when i’m stressed. It’s normal. It’s what our bodies do. The last thing our brains naturally want to do when we’re stressed is even THINK about anything to relax us.
But taking a few deep breaths sends the signal to your brain that you’re not being chased by a bear and starts to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
A few deep breaths can give your body and brain just even a tiny bit of space to act from a more grounded place, vs. react and potentially make things worse.
Grab a Journal
And start word vomiting all over it. Talking to other people is great, but talking to yourself is sometimes even better. Maybe there’s some shit you need to talk to yourself about that you’ve been avoiding.
Maybe you’ll have a realization via journaling that opens your eyes to what you truly want in a relationship, or why you’ve accepted unacceptable behavior from partners.
Or maybe it’s just a good place to say anything you want to about your ex or the relationship that won’t hurt anyone else in the process.
Specifically, I suggest stream of consciousness journaling. It’s kind of like writing without any boundaries, prompts, or censoring. It allows your real thoughts and feelings to just dump out right onto your page. Talk about healing.
Try writing 3 pages a day or set a timer for 10 minutes and just write whatever comes out. This little journaling moment helps SO much to reconnect you to your voice within that REALLY wants to come out.
My fave journal for simplicity sake is a classic Moleskine. I get analysis paralysis trying to choose a pretty journal so i’ve taken all the thinking out of it with this one!
Make your bedroom a sanctuary
I cannot emphasize the importance of doing this enough. For all the breakups I’ve gone through, there has always been some sort of living situation nonsense. Either they moved out, I moved out, we both moved out, I moved home, blah blah.
There have been times i’ve had the whole previously shared apartment to myself (depressing) and there were times I had to move in with roommates and only had one room that was completely my own.
This time, I moved in with family last minute and I have finally learned the importance of making your bedroom a sanctuary for healing.
You may feel totally unsettled, frustrated, annoyed, confused, and overwhelmed in your life going through your breakup. It’s one of the most de-stabilizing experiences we can go through for sure. Things may feel so up in the air you wonder if they’ll ever return back to earth.
Creating a safe space for healing – your bedroom – is essential for your growth and healing during this difficult time. You need a space that’s just yours where you can cry, journal, read, be sad, etc.
My recent breakup came with a lot of financial mess so I only spent $30 on revamping my room. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or time to make it your space.
Simple things like candles, fresh flowers from outside (free!), and just reorganizing or cleaning your room are quick and easy ways to create a space that feels welcoming.
Move your body
We gotta get those emotions moving through you my friend! As tempting as it is to turn into a pool of tears on the couch forever, I had to get my body moving and I think it could help you too.
We hold emotions in our body tissues that can be released via therapy of course, but movement can also help.
If you think of emotions as energy, you can imagine that those emotions/energy get bottled up in the body because where else do they have to go if we don’t release them?
Running, yoga, strength training, boxing, or whatever floats your boat for exercise is definitely going to help those pent up emotions and energy move through you. Otherwise, they may sit stagnant with nowhere else to go.
I randomly got super into running during my recent breakup and it felt SO good to feel like I was literally sweating out and running off the negative energy. Throw on a good breakup playlist and get moving!
I like to suggest Joyn inclusive movement for all bodies, the Class (which feels like an exorcism in the best way) or Yoga with Adrienne for working out from home. Because ya know, pandemic life sometimes throws a wrench in our workout plans!
Read – books to help you through your breakup
Personally, I’m a HUGE bookworm and have always loved to read. I like thrillers, as well as romance (when not going through a massive breakup LOLZ!) but my top fave has always been self-help.
I’ve always used books as a way to help me through tough times and this last breakup I found a BUNCH of really great ones that helped me so much and I hope will help you too.
It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola Behrendt. Although this one is SUPER heteronormative and definitely not queer friendly, if you can read with an open mind coming from that perspective it has so many helpful parts to it. I really felt like this was my “breakup buddy.”
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron. This one speaks for itself. Enough said!
Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser. This was recommended to me by someone in my drug and alcohol recovery community and it hit home HARD for me.
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur. Honestly any of Rupi’s books can be helpful when going through a breakup but this one definitely takes the cake.
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie. Sometimes we can lose ourselves in others. This book will help you find your way back to yourself and finally prioritize your own needs and healing.
Single on Purpose: Redefine Everything. Find Yourself First. By John Kim. This one was surprisingly helpful to me. I haven’t been single since I was 16 (I know – it’s a thing…) So this book helped me understand ALL the benefits of actually being single on purpose.
On My Own: the Art of Being a Woman Alone by Florence Falk. Building on John Kim’s book above, this one helped me realize why serial dating and settling in relationships is so common for women. There’s a LOT at play there I couldn’t even begin to explain as well as Falk so honestly just read her book. It helps.
Buy Yourself the F**king Lillies by Tara Schuster. This one isn’t a typical “breakup” book, but more of a how to take care of your own damn self book which I think we could all always use more of.
It’s Just a F**king Date by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola Behrendt. When you ARE ready to get back out into the dating pool, this is a no bullshit approach to doing that in your healthiest ways.
Find fun with your friends (and family)
I had to literally hear my astrologist say, “let your friends pick you up and take you on little friend outings,” to remember that I should do that. Towards the end of my relationship things were so dark for me that I had isolated a LOT from my family and friends.
I felt a little shitty reaching out and asking to hang or for help to be honest. Thank god I have amazing friends and family who welcomed me with open arms, houses, couches, yoga dates, crying sessions, dance parties, and vacations.
Just know that you DO have friends who want to be there for you and are able to. And when it’s time to return the favor, they know you’ll be there for them too.
Ask a friend to coffee or brunch. Doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. Just get off your couch and onto theirs even. It helps to just feel heard and seen, and of course to laugh!
Food – do the best you can
Omg finally! The dietitian is talking about food! You thought this part of the post would never come huh…
Here’s my advice about food. Work WITH your body when it comes to food.
For me, I either totally lose my appetite when I go through hard shit OR I eat much more than I normally do. Both of these reactions are totally understandable and it takes a little effort to find the middle ground.
If you find yourself struggling to eat enough, go for super easy to make and kind of bland foods like smoothies, soups, crackers and peanut butter, toast, stuff like that. They tend to be easier to get down than some big, complicated super flavorful meal.
Also breakup meals into smaller, more manageable ones vs. larger meals as that makes it easier for a low appetite.
If you find yourself eating more than feels good often, food may be filling a void that needs attention in a different way. Try asking yourself the question, “what am I really hungry for?”
If you want more support around this check out my blog post on emotional eating and turning to food for comfort.
And if you are absolutely craving the f*ck out of some chocolate cake, EAT IT! The last thing your body or brain need right now is deprivation of any kind. I went through a big chocolate cake kick during this breakup.
To be specific, my birthday cake – a double chocolate masterpiece from Fare and Just Kitchen in Brewster, MA. Somehow gluten free and somehow amazing.
Rather than eating too much at one sitting which would give me a stomach ache, a huge sugar crash, and make me tired, I decided to have a slice for breakfast or with my tea in the afternoon.
Allowing yourself to have your favorite/comfort/fun foods is ESSENTIAL to your healing process.
You’re a spiritual and emotional being having a human experience. You’re not just a robot that needs fuel.
Just consider the most satisfying way you could have it so that you actually enjoy it and feel good about eating it.
Like Albert Einstein said… “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
If you’re leaving any type of abusive or toxic relationship, your brain could definitely use the consistency and peacefulness that nature brings us. Try catching the sunset most days of the week with a beach or nature walk. Take a book and have a picnic in the park.
Getting outside does wonders for our mental health, so get outside and get some fresh air as much as possible.
You may be thinking, “Ew. She had me until this bullshit. Now she’s gonna have me lOoK fOr ThE SiLvEr LiNiNg?! Barf!”
But yeah. I am. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, have had some pretty intense trauma in my life, had serious health issues, and i’m an alcoholic which is many people’s worst nightmares LOLZ.
I know sometimes shit just sicks and silver linings are hard to find.
I love to sit on the pity pot as much as the next gal but I also know that what we feed grows. If you wanna stay stuck in a downward spiral of doom, go for it.
But I promise you that as bad as shit sucks right now, you DO also have a lot to be grateful for and if you put some attention to it, I can almost guarantee it will lift your mood.
Start simple. You can be grateful for the fact you’re alive and breathing. Or your job, or your cat. Try making a list every day of just 5 things you’re grateful for. And ps – you can be on the self pity pot AND be grateful at the same time. It doesn’t have to be either or.
Check out these templates, apps and ideas for gratitude journaling.
Get a hobby
It’s likely that your relationship with your ex drained you in some way. I imagine this to be true since if it wasn’t, you’d perhaps still be together. It didn’t work out for one reason or another and when things go sour in relationships, it’s easy to lose ourselves along the way.
Set an intention to find some hobbies to lift your spirits. Hobbies help to enrich your life and can make you feel alive again. Even if that’s just reading, that’s a hobby. Some other ideas may include yoga, painting, pottery, puzzles, or travel.
If you need help thinking of some hobbies check out this list of hobbies for singletons. It’s a cool club to be a part of (the singleton club!), so don’t worry. I’m in it with you and actually learning to love it!
That’s it my friend! Now go on with your bad self!
I hope this post was helpful considering I poured basically my entire heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into it.
Feel free to leave a comment and/or join my email list below where you can get loads of support with food, your body, and all things self-care and mental health.
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