I discussed in my last post that I’d recently gone through a relationship break-up. The relationship lasted nine years and the situation in which it happened have been two huge factors in the level of my distress and upset following the break-up. It’s only been six days and so far, I’ve experienced emotions ranging from grief, frustration, and anger to feeling happy and positive that I can begin a new chapter in my life and find someone much more suitable to my work and my personality. It has been the biggest rollercoaster…
And it’s taking me some time to develop coping strategies and ways to deal with the intense and overwhelming feelings that are flooding my mind and body. So I thought that I’d share what I’ve learnt so far with you guys to help you manage your own mental health during a relationship break-up without it taking negative experiences to learn them.
One. Distance yourself from them.
This might seem childish but it’s so completely necessary to ensure the smallest chance possible of you having to deal with even more drama and criticisms from your ex, their friends, and their family. You have like, a 40% chance that you’ll remember every single person that you’ve met through your ex so try typing each letter of the alphabet into the search feature of your chosen social media account to start with.
Two. Avoid all reminders for at least a week and then surround yourself with them.
This is called ‘flooding’ and the whole concept is that eventually it’ll have been so much that things will lose their meaning and you’ll be free to make new memories with them. But it’s important to get a balance of when the time is right to do this, to avoid intense, overwhelming, negative feelings.
Three. Allow yourself time to be sad.
This is probably one of the most important lessons that I’ve been taught recently – the importance in allowing yourself to feel negative emotions and to accept them as completely ‘normal.’ The way I was taught to look at it was to imagine that it’s a friend who’s in your situation and what emotions and behaviours you’d expect from them at this stage in the break-up.
Four. Use a measurement scale.
We used to do this on escorted leave from psychiatric hospitals, we’d have a scale from 0 – 10 and the higher you were then the worse you were struggling. It was a great way to tell people how you were feeling without having to tell people how you’re feeling! I have an agreement that if I’m above a 7 then I need to take Lorazepam or ring the Crisis Team but yours can be absolutely anything from needing to call a friend, to staying with your Mum, to needing to get a massage.
Five. Take the time to self-soothe.
Kind of related to number four in that it is definitely something you need to do when you’re struggling but why wait until you’re above a 7? Personally, I like reading, writing, doing something creative (I’ve recently been doing a paint by numbers – I’d recommend The Works, or The Range for these sort of activities), listening to music, spending time with my Mum, friends, and pets, and doing something cosmetic e.g. painting my nails, doing my makeup or my hair etc. It’s so important to acknowledge that you deserve to do something nice or something special for yourself.