How to Sit with the Stress of a Breakup
This week's guest blog comes to us from Julia Colangelo, LCSW, MSW, SIFI, a Licensed Therapist, Wellness Consultant, Coach, and Educator in New York City. Julia works with high-achievers to change the way they relate to stress, uncertainty, and anxiety in their relationships and as they begin to date so they can maximize their full potential in their personal and professional lives. While nothing can change the emotions you may feel post-breakup, below are Julia's recommended three tools you can use to center yourself, reassess the relationship you were in, and prepare to move forward (and Onward!).
You’re newly single- maybe anticipated or totally unexpected, and you’re stressed out. While it’s hard to anticipate the stress or the feelings of loss related to an ending of a relationship, you can prepare yourself by developing some tools to cope with stress, grief, anxiety, loneliness that may ebb and flow around your relationship ending, and soon enough, a new relationship beginning.
1. Acknowledge your stress.
Notice I didn’t say "befriend," because sometimes our stress feels like an enemy that is attacking our overall wellbeing. Similarly, if we try to run from our stress, stress is amplified. When we acknowledge and sit with our stress response, it becomes less of a balloon in the room and more of a presence, similar to the other emotions zooming in and around us as we exist and try to function amidst radical changes in our lifestyle and connections. You can acknowledge your stress by practicing mindfulness through movement, eating, connection, or writing as we discuss further below.
2. After acknowledging your stress, I invite you to write, write, write.
Maybe you’ve tried journaling before and it “hasn’t worked.” But during this transition, I want you to write purposefully. Writing can help us explore on a deeper level what is happening, internally and externally with our emotions. Then, we can clear room in our brain and body for nuanced experiences of emotions. No one is going to read these entries except for you, so I challenge you to be as precise and explicit as is helpful.
Here are your prompts:
a. What worked in this relationship, if anything?
b. What didn’t work?
c. What were you attracted to about this person at the start?
d. What changed if anything? (perhaps what changed in you?)
e. What do you want in your next partner (and if you’re thinking there won’t be another, or you don’t want another, you can skip this, or revisit)
3. Sit with these feelings, writings, and reflections.
Be kind about your goals. If your goal is to join that new dating app, relocate, or shed everything about your previous relationship asap, acknowledge those goals as powerful insights. If you’re feeling a multitude of intense emotions all at once, I encourage you to give yourself permission to make one decision per week so that you’re moving thoughtfully through your breakup while also experiencing a sense of control.
Breakups can bring up deep questions about our choices, our lives, and amplify worries about the future. I hope these strategies bring you some sense of possibility as you move through this process and remember to be kind to yourself amidst this transition!