If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve experienced a breakup. Breakups can be difficult depending on how long they’ve lasted and/or how much we’ve emotionally invested in the person. We can expect a period of grieving the loss, even if we know it should have ended. We need to take some time to process what happened that caused the relationship to end and learn from that experience. Here are therapist-recommended tips on how to get over a breakup:
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 8, 2022 breakups, coping with loss, divorce, healthy mourning, heartbreak, loneliness, loss counseling, relationship, self care, self care during grief, single0 comments
- Process what you’re walking away with rather than walking away without. This can look like thinking through, “What did I gain from this relationship?”, “What did I learn about myself?”, “What do I need to take note of for any potential relationships in the future?” Some possible answers to these questions may be: “I gained a lot more self confidence and the ability to be more self-sufficient.” “In the future, I want to make it clear how important time with my family is.” This can be a great journaling exercise.
- This is a time for good self-care: proper nutrition, regular exercise, and healthy sleep patterns. Invest in activities that are meaningful and where you can express your gifts and talents in ways that are fulfilling. You will have more time to invest in others, so engaging in volunteer roles where you are serving and helping others can add meaning and increase the quality of your life.
- Be mindful of how you are processing the loss. If you feel inadequate, unlovable, not significant, etc., as a result of the break-up, it might be helpful to process these beliefs with a therapist so you don’t end up with a distorted and negative view of yourself. If you sink into long periods of depression, anxiety, or grief, you may also want to process this with a therapist to be able to work through these feelings and return to a more positive view of life.
- Take a break from social media and spend more quality time with your most supportive friends. As humans, we require healthy attachments to others. Surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones (support system) can help soothe the attachment trauma. Also, allow yourself to grieve!! This is a loss and it is okay to feel it.
- Accept that feelings of sadness and loneliness are a normal part of any life change and they are not a signal that you should ‘be with’ the person who you are experiencing the break up with. Many people confuse sadness for a reason to continue on in that relationship. Remember, even people who struggle with substance abuse disorder crave their desired substance for a period of time after ‘quitting.’ Not everything we desire aligns with our higher goals and well being!
While it may not happen as quickly as you’d like, people have a resounding ability to heal from loss, regain autonomy and grow stronger. If you feel stuck or like it may be taking you longer than what feels appropriate, it may be helpful to reach out to a therapist for additional support.
Cover photo by Alex Green
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 20, 2022 cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive distortions, how to deal with loneliness, loneliness, reframing cognitive distortions0 comments
* a phrase coined by psychologist Jennifer Abel.
Loneliness, typically defined as the discrepancy between a person’s desired and actual social relationships, affects more than half of U.S. adults (58%). Additionally, Americans with mental health issues are more than twice as likely to be lonely than those with strong mental health.
Lonely individuals approach social encounters with a hypervigilance for social threats; they preferentially attend to negative social information; they remember more of the negative aspects of social events; they hold more negative social expectations; and they are more likely to behave in ways that confirm their negative expectations.
Research suggests that loneliness is not a fixed trait and can be improved or worsened by social interactions. Therefore, opportunities for social connectedness have the potential to improve the quality of social interactions and keep loneliness at bay.
How do we create these opportunities for social connection? What can we do about heightened sensitivity to social threats? Here’s our therapist recommendations for how to deal with loneliness.
- Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to identify the automatic negative thoughts you have around rejection and how other people perceive you. Then think of alternative or “better but believable” thoughts* that can help you have more neutral feelings.
- Look for and engage in everyday points of connection, even small ones, if it’s safe to do so. For example, wave to the neighbor down the street taking their daily walk, or engage in the impromptu casual conversation the person in front of you in line at the grocery store may start as you wait, usually about how you both always choose the longest line, etc. Those points of connection help you identify with others and underscore that while you may feel isolated, often you share a common experience with others.
- Are you feeling lonely with people you know? Maybe it’s time to hit “pause” with your current friends and build new relationships.. Look to see who has “friend potential.” If people are asking you to hang out and it seems intriguing, take a chance.
- Identify something you would enjoy or do enjoy or feel committed to and seek out a volunteer opportunity. You don’t even have to commit tons of time- it can be a one time step to start to see if you like it, and you`ll still garner the benefits of connection and being of service. Like animals? Seek out a volunteer opportunity at a local animal shelter during a pet supply drive or adoption day. If environmental concerns are more your thing, participate in a local clean up day and bond with your clean up crew as you compete to see which crew can stash the most trash! The options are as unique as you are! Who knows, you may even get to meet folks who share similar interests, which is an added bonus.
- Be the first to reach out to others. Many people remain lonely because they wait for others to engage with them or take the lead in setting up social interactions. Social people continually take the lead in calling, texting and making plans.
- Many people approach their social interactions in terms of what they get from them. They think, “What will this person do for me?” “How can *I* feel better from this social interaction?” This backfires. Instead, approach social interactions with the mindset of, “What can I give this person?” “How can I make them feel better?” Ultimately, people like being around people who make them feel good. If you focus on making the other person feel good rather than yourself, you stand a better chance of making a strong connection with the person.
* a phrase coined by psychologist Jennifer Abel.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 27, 2022 alone on valentines day, heartbreak, loneliness, Reducing holiday stress, rituals for self care, rituals to reduce stress, self care, single, single for valentines day, valentines day0 comments
Valentine’s Day can be a tricky holiday for us singles to navigate. It may bring up feelings of loneliness and comparison. Feeling jealous that we don’t have what others do. Or coming to the realization that life hasn’t gone according to plan. No matter how you slice it, February 14 will show up just as the sun rises and sets so be prepared and follow these 12 tips for how to enjoy yourself while single on Valentine’s Day.
- Write Yourself a Love Letter. Love letters may have fallen by the wayside once text messages showed up on the scene, but there’s something special about a handwritten letter or card. Buy yourself a beautiful card and write about all the great qualities you possess and why a future partner would be lucky to have you. Drop the card in the mail and in a few days you’ll be the recipient of a beautifully handwritten note.
- Book a Massage. Give yourself the gift of touch and relaxation and indulge in an hour-long massage.
- Plan a Date with Your Single Friends. There’s no better way to spend Valentine’s Day as a single person than with people who are unattached like you. Make plans for a nice night out with dinner and drinks.
- Find Your Act of Service. Be on the lookout for people who you can help to stay out of the doldrums during this holiday. You can hop onto reddit and lend a kind and supportive word to those who feel lonely, too. Or get out in person and help your local community. The neighborhood app Nextdoor is a great resource to learn which of your neighbors could use support. Sometimes the best way we can support our own well-being is when we are acting in the service of others.
- Remind Yourself the Grass Isn’t Always Greener and Social Media Can Be Deceptive. By now we all know that most people post the highlight reel of their lives on social media. And this couldn’t be more true for Valentine’s Day. Yet how many couples have posted a beautiful selfie and had an argument right before? Or gushed about their great love in a post only to break up a week later. The truth is we don’t know the inner workings of other people’s relationships.
- Temporarily Delete Social Media from Your Phone. For many people social media can be triggering. This is especially true during Valentine’s Day when your feed may be filled with couples professing their undying love for each other or sharing photos of the beautiful bouquet of flowers gifted to them by their partner. This may make a person who is single feel lonely or jealous they aren’t having the same experience. Allow yourself to take a break from this type of content so you’re not adding on to your emotional burden. It can be as easy as deleting the apps from your phone and reinstalling after Valentine’s Day.
- Buy Yourself Flowers. Who says flowers are reserved for those coupled up? Flowers are available to anyone at any time in a variety of price ranges. Get yourself exactly the type of flowers you like best and that will make you smile. Also why limit yourself to flowers? We love the Lawrenceville based City Grows which offers a wide variety of decorative succulents and cacti that will last far longer than a week.
- Cook Yourself a Gourmet Meal or Enjoy Your Favorite Comfort Foods. If you like cooking, find yourself a special recipe and enjoy the process of shopping for the ingredients. Make a ritual out of it by playing your favorite tunes and sipping on a glass of Malbec as you prepare the meal. Fully immerse yourself in the experience.
- Order Takeout from Your Favorite Restaurant. If cooking isn’t your thing, order your favorite comfort foods from DoorDash or pick up takeout from your favorite local restaurant. Make this day about doing things you love–like indulging in your favorite foods. And crack open that bottle of wine you were saving for a special occasion.
- Binge Watch Your Favorite Show. Now that you’ve got your delicious food and drink covered, enjoy this guilt-free opportunity to do nothing but binge watch that new show you’ve been waiting for.
- Pamper Yourself With a Bath at Home. Try an epsom salt bath which can be used to relax muscles and relieve pain in the shoulders, neck, back and skull. Add in some lavender essential oils to activate your sense of smell and invite calm.
- Cuddle with Your Pets. Cats provide us with companionship, which can ultimately reduce the risk of depression or anxiety. With a cat by your side, you won’t feel alone. Plus, those who have cats are more likely to have lower blood pressure than those who do not. This is attributed to the fact that cats create a calm and relaxing atmosphere in a home, which can naturally reduce blood pressure. Dogs also provide us with companionship and in turn we get positive benefits like: getting outside in the sunlight, partaking in exercise while walking our furry friend, and having the opportunity to socialize with people we come across. Don’t have a pet? Consider visiting one of the area’s cat cafe’s, offer to walk dogs at a local shelter or even dip your toe in fostering.
Challenging days give us the opportunity to realize and embrace our personal autonomy. While we may prefer Valentine’s Day partnered up, we do have control over how we spend the day and what we tell ourselves about it.
Remember that you are enough! It isn’t a relationship that completes our life—while love is a complement to a meaningful existence, being healthy, happy, and whole can be achieved while single, smiling, and not even looking!