99 things to do after a breakup that are actually healthy and healing

February 12, 2020 at 05:00PM by CWC


The morning after my most recent breakup from a serious relationship, I woke up, wiped off my mascara-stained face and wrote out advice for myself in list form. Item one read: “Breakups are excruciating as a default, you can’t escape that.” While that bummer of a truism isn’t the most empowering, I charged on with my list and ended up with a huge document of ideas of things to do after a breakup. And I found it to be hugely helpful as I navigated the healing process.

Since my personal list included items I wouldn’t recommend to others (though I do contend that whatever your version of “have too many gimlets,” “Facebook messages different exes” and “wake up in last night’s dress” is part of the process.), I asked experts what they thought. So below, find an expert-informed list of actually healthy and healing things to do after a breakup that allow you to feel your feelings and evolve into a better version of you.

99 things to do after a breakup to become a happier and healthier you

1. Remember that you are human⁠. “Heartbreak causes major physiological and neurochemical changes, and knowing that these changes are normal and expected will help you feel less alone in how you feel.” —Elle Huerta, founder and CEO of the break-up app Mend

2. Be sure to unfollow your ex. “If you are tempted to internet-stalk your ex late, turn off your phone and hide it. Stay away from all temptation to do something you might later regret.” —clinical psychologist Goali Saedi Bocci, PhD

3. Find a soothing nighttime routine. “When I was single, candlelight yoga was one of the healthiest ways I’d spend a Friday or Saturday night. I was decompressing and attending to myself instead of hitting up loud and overwhelming clubs or bars.” —Dr. Bocci.

4. Find a therapist. “Not everybody needs a therapist post-breakup, but if you do, try a therapist database, like GoodTherapy.org or Psychology Today.” —clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD

5. Read. “It’s a gorgeous, healthy escape, and you’ll have interesting book stories to share on future dates.” —life coach Susie Moore

6. Practice self-care Sunday on any day of the week: “Get a haircut, paint your nails, throw on a face mask.” —Moore


7. 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 neurochemicals in the nervous system.” —clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD

8. Download a breakup app. “It plugs you into a community of people around the world who are sharing stories and advice with each other.” —Huerta

9. Leave the house. “Get some fresh air. Go for a walk, get groceries, do an errand. The more quickly you re-acclimate yourself to normal life, the more quickly you’ll feel normal again.” —relationship expert Susan Winter

10. Exercise.“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” —Elle Woods

11. 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.” —psychotherapist Larry Letich, LCSW

12. Take long walks. It’s a head-clearing, soul-cleansing break from your day.

13. Take the mental-health day. “Especially if your performance might suffer or hurt your team.” —career coach Maggie Mistal

14. 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

things to do after a breakup

Cracking open that Moleskine offers multiple mental health benefits.

16. 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

17. Dance. “Movement is a great way to become deeply, inescapably present, which is tough when you’re stuck in the pain of a breakup. It’s also a great way to get stagnant emotions moving and connect with others.” —Kristina Headrick, movement and meditation guide and founder of wellness retreat company Yia Mas

18. Practice gratitude. There are so many great things in the world.

19. 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 to aspire to discover new dimensions of our ideal self.” —licensed psychologist Krystine I Batcho, PhD

20. Make 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.” —psychotherapist Jennifer Silvershein, LCSW

21. Hydrate: If you’re crying often, this is especially important.

22. Try forest bathing: “Choose a tree that appeals to you, and feel the energy that’s flowing into it from its roots and going all the way up into its leaves. Let yourself connect to all that life-giving energy.” —licensed psychologist Helene Brenner, PhD

things to do after a breakup

“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

24. Enjoy hygge nights in. Embrace the JOMO that comes with fewer social obligations.

25. Follow an inspirational account on social media. “Inspirational quotes and bonding with others going through a breakup can often be highly therapeutic.” —Dr. Bocci

26. And follow strong women: Jennifer Aniston, Emma Watson, Rihanna, and Lizzo are just a few of the many greats.

27. Consider going on a dating sabbatical: “Many people jump back onto the 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 both a disservice to yourself and to the people you may meet.” — Erika Ettin, dating coach

28. Try a reiki session. Any energy healing is welcome energy healing.

29. Resist contact with your ex while feelings are raw: “Giving yourself time to separate from your ex helps you to regroup and start building your life away from them. If you can hold off until you feel emotionally ready to be in contact, that‘s the best way to approach it, but there‘s no set time frame.” —relationship therapist Debra Roberts, LCSW

30. 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.

31. Binge-watch that buzzy show everyone’s talking about. Consider it a welcome reason to finally watch Cheer, Fleabag, or anything else on your list.

32. Cry. “When we allow ourselves to cry, we feel better due to the release of pent up emotions.” —Dr. Manly

33. Laugh. For as long as possible, because doing so releases happy hormones.

34. Write a letter to your ex. “Let it all out, then mindfully burn it.” —impact coach Katie Sandler

35. Embrace the quiet: “You might have a hard time feeling your feelings, so if you quiet yourself, you make room for feelings to come out so they don’t eat at you.” —Dr. Daramus.

36. Orgasm. “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

37. Meditate. There are so many different types of meditations you can explore to help you feel grounded and centered.

38. Be happy for the happiness of others. “If we see everyone’s lives as their own experience rather than being in competition with one another, we can avoid the negative feelings.” —Silvershein

39. Lift yourself up. “Be patient and kind with yourself—but also get your shit together and move forward.” —Sandler

40. Hold healing crystals: Like rose quartz, moldavite and moonstone.

41. Use those crystals to make a gem tincture. “Place your 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.” —Erica Feldmann, owner of metaphysical shop HausWitch

42. 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.” —says Dr. Brenner

43. Energetically refresh your bedroom: Sage your home and neutralize the negative energy.

44. Declutter your space. Start by moving out your ex’s stuff.

45. Find a flow-state-inducing hobby: Entering flow is a soothing emotional distraction and the perfect excuse to take up knitting.

things to do after a breakup

“Most likely the answer is no. So, resolve your intention to manifest a relationship in which you love the you that you are.” —Dr. Brenner

47. Attend a sound bath. See if the vibrational energy shakes out any new sense of catharsis for you.

48. Listen to any music that helps you feel your mood. But for specific recommendations, try Joni Mitchell’s Blue when you’re sad, Taylor Swift’s Red when you’re angry, Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black when you feel despair, Cher when you need to be empowered, and Lizzo every single day.

49. Pick up a Hula-Hoop. It supports core strength, and it’s Mrs. Maisel-approved.

50. Do a vinyasa flow. Get in the flow to support your brain and heart(break) health.

51. Give boxing a stab (then a jab). In case you need  to get out aggression.

52. Take a pole-dancing class. Embrace your inner J. Lo, and feel yourself.

53. 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. ”

54. Redecorate. “Buy something or a few things you know your ex-partner would hate but you really like.” —Letich.

55. 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.” —Feldmann

56. Learn how to French braid. It’s never too late to master the sleepover-chic look.

57. Start a new skin-care routine. It’s called a “post-breakup glow” for a reason.

58. Focus on work. Now is a great time to build your career and boost your sense of personal ambition.

59. 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 $5 at a time helps.” —financial expert Angela Holliday, president of Frost Investment Services.

60. Get yourself a confidence coat. Or any other self-esteem-boosting statement piece.

61. Go on a wellness a 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 toy starts to malfunction or it just doesn’t spark joy, it’s time to retire it for a updated and upgraded model.” —Sinclair

things to do after a breakup

Sharpen your cognitive skills to lower communication barriers while you travel the world.

64. Cook a new recipe. Here’s my YiaYia’s avgolemono soup recipe, if you’d enjoy some Mediterranean comfort food.

65. Learn to read tarot cards. You won’t feel frustrated anymore when you pull the death card.

66. Learn tasseography. It’s similar in spirit to reading tarot cards, but with caffeine.

67. Give yourself a post-breakup makeover: But maybe enlist some second opinions before you grab the scissors.

68. 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 you and express all the wonderful qualities you possess, you’ll feel better about life and work.” —Mistal

69. Project confidence even if yours is at a low point. Widening your stance can make a difference.

70. Challenge your inner strength. “Go to a city by yourself, rent a car, take some walking or boat tours, and explore the city. This also focuses your mind, rallies your resources, and gets you away from the cues that remind you of your ex.” —Dr. Brenner

71. Reevaluate your finances: “Set your financial goals, budget, and remember to be flexible. You just went through a life change and goals may have shifted.” —Holliday

72. Consider creating a dating profile. “For most apps, less is more. For example, a Bumble profile of 25 words will do much better than one of 50 words.” —Ettin

73. 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 it. Be gentle with yourself through this whole process.”—Letich

74. Take yourself on a solo date. It’s confidence-bolstering and reconnects you to the most important person in your life: you.

75. Spend time with your family. “We’ve lost an important connection, so we might need to strengthen the connections we still have. —Dr. Daramus

76. Be kind to everyone, even your ex’s friends. “Put a smile on your face, say ‘great to see you’ and keep moving.” —Roberts

77. Make plans in advance—and stick to them. “When you have plans, it can be easier to get up in the morning.” —Lucht

78. Say “thank you.” Express your gratitude often, especially to pals who are helping you.

79. Take a trip with friends. Go anywhere in the world, and get ready to make new memories.

80. Get coffee with a co-worker you really admire. “When reaching out, point out accomplishments the person has achieved that impress you.” —Mistal

81. 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, it’s important to resist the temptation to go repeat endlessly.” —Winter

82. Talk to others about their breakups. Get yourself some outside perspective as a reminder to yourself that you’re not alone.

83. Be present when your loved ones go through their own difficult things. Empathy is a two-way street.

things to do after a breakup

Don’t make the chat all about you—but right now is the perfect time you reconnect with lost loved ones.

85. Flirt. Lean into your flirting style, and test it out on anyone who makes you spark.

86. Try bird-watching. “Put up a bird feeder and watch the birds.” —Dr. Brenner

87. Meet ups with the most interesting people you know. Whether it feels like networking for pleasure, or simply seeking out intriguing people you can work with, you can have fun in the process.

88. Get the birth times of everyone you’re attracted to. Astrological compatibility is complex, but worth the deep dive.

89. And get familiar with your own astrological chart. “Focus on houses five through eight, the Venus/Moon/Mars stories, to see and review how the relationship matched up or clashed against your chart.” — astrologer Colin Bedell

90. Hug extra hard. Hugging can be healthy for you, so make those squeezes count.

91. Kiss someone new. When you’re emotionally ready, relearning how to kiss will be a delight.

92. Smile. Receiving a smile back can create a positive feedback loop.

93. Think hard before reconnecting with any ex. “Try not to react based on your current need to connect with someone. Instead, weigh out the positives and the negatives, where it could go wrong. Make your decision based on that info.” —Roberts

94. Record “love memos.” “When you’re thinking how great the other person is, ask your closest friends to tell you all the ways they were bad for 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

things to do after a breakup

“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

96. Make a friend in a different age bracket. You stand to learn a lot from intergenerational friendships.

97. Start revisiting the places that were “your spots” with your ex. Take a good friend and use the concept exposure therapy to neutralize the emotion you tie to the physical setting.

98. Go on a real date again. “Get back out there, learn, and grow when you feel great about yourself.” —Sandler

99. Know that time heals all. And that, truly, everything will be okay.

If you’re ready to get back out there, here’s how to start dating after a breakup, divorce or dry spell. And here’s how long it *really* takes to move on

Author Mary Grace Garis | Well and Good
Selected by CWC