5 Healthy Ways to Deal With Loneliness After A Breakup

Photo by Namita Azad
Photo by Namita Azad
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The Challenge: Breakups are hard. How do you deal with the inevitable feelings of loneliness?
The Science: We can find ways to be happy AND alone – the key to surviving any breakup.
The Solution: Here are 5 ways to find daily happiness after a breakup.

So, I recently went through a breakup. Yes, it is hard. Yes, I still get sad. Yes, I miss him.

Yes, I promise this post takes a turn for the better if you keep reading.

I feel my breakup was particularly challenging, because it was coupled with a move to a brand new city. Long distance wasn’t for us, and I knew it was coming. But I didn’t just lose my best friend. I lost all my friends. I was starting over in every way.

I recently had a friend that went through a breakup and a move as well. I was emailing him, and describing some of the little things I missed about my relationship. I realized the email was sounding pretty depressing, when in reality, I am all-around pretty cheerful these days.

I closed the email with “I’m painting a really horrible picture of my life here. It isn’t that bad. I’m rather pleasantly happy most days.”

His response: “ How do you stay pleasantly happy amid all this loneliness?”

And so, this post was born.

1. Yoga

It doesn’t matter what the problem is, I am certain the answer is yoga. This is pretty apparent to anyone that spends five minutes in a room with me. Sometimes I seem a little crazy passionate about it, but the benefits are real, and a lot of studies suggest so. Yoga helps to remind me that it isn’t about what I have, but who I am. I’ve never felt more beautiful, capable, and individually powerful than after a yoga class – even though I look like a sweaty drowned rat and smell like foot.

2. Writing letters

Writing in general has been the topic of many psychological studies, and been the subject of many books. Laura King’s particular study concluded “Writing about life goals was significantly less upsetting than writing about trauma and was associated with a significant increase in subjective well-being.”

I spend a lot of time writing about myself, writing about the trauma of the breakup, and about my personal goals as an individual. But I also recently started writing letters to friends and family. It is the mere act of thinking about someone else, and what they need to hear, that keeps me out of my brain and keeps me out of my problems. By helping others, I help myself. It is therapeutic for me to write to loved ones, but it also (hopefully) puts a smile on their face. Who doesn’t love getting physical mail where the return address isn’t US Bank or the DMV?

3. Coffee dates with myself

I’m not trying to preach chemical dependency, or encourage solving feeling of loneliness with a stimulant. But the facts are the facts: coffee can help make us happy. But it isn’t about the chemical for me. It’s about being secure and comfortable enough to go to a coffee shop, order my favorite beverage (dirty chai tea latte), and sit and read the newspaper for an hour. It is a simple declaration of “me.” It’s a date I have with myself. To reset, recharge, and feel good. And usually I instagram and artsy photo or two. The lighting in coffee shops is hard to pass up…

4. Exploring nature

I am fortunate to live in the land of 10,000 lakes. When I find myself feeling lonely, I force myself to get outside in nature. It is no new secret that being outdoors improves our mental health. A multi-study analysis published by Jo Barton and Jules Pretty at the University of Essex stated “Every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood; the presence of water generated greater effects.” And let me tell you, I believe it.

I spend time by the lake not only because it is beautiful, and the water has a way of making me forget any of my complaints, but it is a way to be surrounded by people.  Humans are fascinating. I take the time to watch the people at the lake. I guess their lives. I guess their stories. I try to think about their past. They were probably lonely and unhappy once. And now they aren’t. And just knowing that brings me a sense of comfort. (The fish tacos at Lake Calhoun aren’t bad either for improving my mood…)

5. A gratitude journal

I write down one thing a day that I am grateful for. I keep my daily doses of gratitude in a Google doc that I can access from my phone. So I am never without it. Just like I believe yoga is the cure-all for any problem, I also believe perspective and gratitude is key to finding moments of happiness, amidst darker, challenging times. Thankfully you don’t have to take my word for this. You can just read one of a million studies on gratitude, and then try for yourself.

I know these methods don’t (or won’t) work for everyone. Everyone deals with loneliness in different ways. Overall, I just want the stigma of “being alone” to not be…well…so stigmatized. Because everyone is enough, just as they are in this present moment. You, alone, are perfect. Just as you are. And there are so many ways to find happiness and joy in every moment that you spend with yourself.

Take these moments to get to know yourself, and find love for yourself. You are capable of showing yourself all the love you need. Take pride and comfort in this, and know that you are okay. Just as you are.

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Melissa Faulkner
I see myself as having two paths: I can be a country singer with the stage name Melissa Leigh. Or I can be a rap goddess, and the people will call me Reck-Lyss. I aspire to live in a city that has more summer than winter, and to own a Pomeranian Husky named Pocket. The other details will just be value added. Check out Melissa's blog here.
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  • Benji Sudolcan says:

    What a great article, Melissa! The ideas are applicable to so many situations in life too. Practicing gratitude and working on your health are definitely things I can get behind :)

    • Thanks so much Benji!!! It was very therapeutic for me to write this, so I am glad it could help some others along the way. Hope you are enjoying your summer – come up to Minneapolis soon!

  • MickeyM says:

    You are an amazing writer and love the five tips! Especially number #1 ;D

    • Right? I know you understand how important yoga is. So proud of your yoga commitment in Chicago! Thanks so much for the comment and all your support – can’t wait to see you again soon!

  • Ada says:

    I really appreciate your article. Thank you so much for this. Thank you.

  • I enjoyed reading your advice, Melissa! Thank you! I just got out of a relationship and have decided to date myself for the rest of 2015. Yoga and writing have definitely kept me sane through it all. I just need to incorporate being outdoors a few more days a week. I’ll be on the road to a much happier me :)

  • Sharon says:

    Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for a great article! It resonated deeply with me, and I will be needing it soon. Today I realized I have had enough of an empty marriage and I will take my life back. It is great to have the tools in hand as I embrace the change.

  • Linda says:

    Hi Melissa, your article is great. It gives me new hope that it is never too late to start anew and set new priorities in life. Thank you for writing this and for invoking this new sense in me. That there is so much more. Loneliness isn’t that bad afterall

  • Robin says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m going through a terrible, gut wrenching breakup and everyone seems to be telling me to “make new friends”. I want to find myself (alone) and these are great steps in doing just that.

  • Sharon says:

    At 52 I have found myself in a position I didn’t envisage. Now days go by when I don’t speak to anyone. I realise this is a terribel position to be in so I have decided I need to make some friends. Researching how to make friends I came across your article so thank you so much Melissa.

  • Nice sharing, thank you very much

  • Nonton Movie says:

    presentation of the article in this blog is very nice, I like it

  • Beatrice says:

    Thank you for the post.I will try some of those things.
    Its so hard for me

    • Kate says:

      Thank you for this article. Feeling alone after a break up & while I have been alone before it’s hard to remind yourself it’s ok to be by oneself. Good reminders & to know that there are others feeling like this.

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