How to be Happy after a Break up, according to Science

Showing Happiness after a Breakup

According to science, it is possible to learn how how to be happy after a break up so there is hope for you and how you’re feeling right now!

True, it might feel impossible right now, because, when you feel sad and lonely it can be overwhelming and make you wonder if things will ever change.  You may also be wondering if the pain of the breakup will ever go away.  

As someone who has been there, in the depths of depression, I know you will eventually begin to walk out of the haze you’re in.  Your friends and family may not understand what you’re going through. They may wonder when you’re going to pick yourself up, but sometimes it’s not that easy.

If you need immediate and urgent assistance, contact a crisis line. 

In Australia contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

In the United Kingdom call Samaritans at 116 123. 

In the United States call the American National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

For all other countries, please check this list of Suicide Hotlines servicing various countries around the world:

If you follow some of the steps in this blog post, you’ll be able to move forward and feel happy again, but keep reminding yourself that your feelings will take time to change. You will have good days and bad days.  So, always, always, be patient with yourself!

1. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be happy after a break up

You might feel all alone right now, but you are not alone in your search for happiness. Even people who haven’t experienced breakups search for happiness.

Everyone wants to be happy!

There’s a whole industry around the subject of happiness. There are books, journals, academic studies, TED talks and focus groups all measuring and searching for happiness.

According to research shared by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project,

  • 50% of happiness is genetic
  • 10-20% is life circumstances
  • 30-40% is based on thoughts and actions

So the part we want to explore in this article is focusing on what we can control – our thoughts and actions.

Here is what you can control

2. Surround yourself with people you love

Let’s keep it real.

Breakups suck, and some of the most helpful things you need to do to start healing, like 30 days of no contact can leave you in pain.  They can be isolating.  

Not only are you cutting your EX off from talking to you, you’re also cutting yourself off from talking to him.  

You will experience feelings of loss.

One of the most important things you can do is to surround yourself with people you love to help you experience feelings of happiness after a breakup.

During times like this, you’ll feel especially lonely and depressed however the intense pain you’re experiencing will eventually fade.  And there are things you can do as you wonder how to be happy after a break up and get ready to bask in your post-break up glo up.

So since you know all of this is on the horizon, you need to make sure you make up for it by giving yourself the chance to laugh, crack a smile, be playful and experience happiness again.

Be careful with this one. Call someone who will give you peace as you’re dealing with the break up or they can add to your stress.

And speaking of stress…

3. Give yourself time to stress out and then stop

There’s one more suggestion I want to give you on this conversation. Give yourself a time limit.

If you decide to tell your worries to your friend, decide, I’m going to talk about this for 20 minutes and then I’m going to stop. Some people call it a “worry period”.

This means you’re creating a place and time, like your bedroom, every day from 3:00 – 3:30. This is the space you’re creating to allow yourself to worry.

If you talk to a friend and you need to vent, give yourself a limit and then try to move on to other conversations.

You see, if you let yourself go on and on about it, you could take yourself into a tailspin of anxiety, doubt, sadness and depression.

The point is to unload, laugh and have fun not to regress back into a pit of dark depression. So phone a friend and destress your mind, but also keep it moving.

4. Show kindness

Kindness and community are very important to increasing happiness. I talk about this idea in my article, How to Deal with Feeling Lonely after a Breakup.

Sometimes, when we feel lonely or sad or unhappy, we look for people around us to give us community or pick up our spirits. The challenge is are we doing the same for others? Are we showing kindness and reaching out to others the way we want to be reached out to?

A study was conducted with Japanese university students called, Happy People Become Happier Through Kindness: A counting kindness intervention.

In the study they look at the relationship between kindness and happiness. They realised when the subjects of the study counted their kindness during the week, they were more likely to report being happy. In fact, “happy people became more kind and grateful through the counting kindness intervention.”

5. Gratitude goes a long way towards being happy after a break up

Did you know that being thankful can go a long way in your happiness journey?

In the article Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier published in Harvard Health, psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami followed three groups for 10 weeks.

The first group they had write things they were grateful for during the week. The second wrote irritating things that happened in their week, and the third simply wrote what happened, without saying whether it was good or bad.

According to the results of the study, “after 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”

6. Take a hot bath and relax.

This is mandatory.

I don’t care if you already think you’re squeaky clean. This wash is to clean your mind as much as it is to clean your body. And if you don’t believe me, believe the scientists!

Researchers say that a hot bath can be more powerful than exercise in fighting depression.

Make sure the shower or bath is very hot. Make it special with some bubble bath or bath bombs. Relax and let all of your problems wash off your back and circle down into the drain.

Let go of any negative thoughts you’ve been holding on to. Let these few minutes be an oasis of peace in the middle of the chaos that your life has become

7. Eat healthy food

We all know that healthy food is good for your body but did you know that it’s also good for your mind? Psychosomatic Medicine recently studied the relationship between depression and diet.

They found eating healthier, “more non-processed food, more whole foods – fruits, vegetables – is very beneficial in terms of your psychological well-being, particularly mood,” says Joseph Firth, the lead author of the paper and a research fellow at Western Sydney University.

8. But also, eat some comfort food

Sister girl, this is not the time to count calories. I want you to think of your favourite feel-good meal of comfort food. Even better if you don’t have to cook it and you can buy it or get it from your friend. Enjoy every bite.

While the studies say healthy food is good for your body, comfort food is attached to psychology – good memories, people you ate the food with in the past, etc. So, basically, it’s good for you in a different way.

Let the food take you back to a cozy place in your childhood.  Think of every bite – the way it tastes, smells, looks and feels in your mouth.  Savour the experience.  Treasure every little morsel.  It’s not called comfort food for nothing!

My favourite go-to foods (before I was vegan) would be:

  • Mac ‘n’ Cheese 
  • White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Cookies
  • Peach Cobbler 
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal

What are your favourite comfort foods?

9. Grab a funny movie (or comedy set) and laugh

Laughter is just what the doctor ordered when your heart is in pain. Find your favourite film, grab some snacks and prepare to laugh. Suspend all reality. Forget about your pain for a few minutes and let go.

Even though it seems like a silly thing, laughter helps your immune system, helps you forgive, forget about your problems and boost your mood.

A few of my fav Netflix comedies recently are:

  • Murder Mystery
  • Game Night
  • Always Be My Maybe

10. Eat your favorite ice cream.

Eat your favourite ice cream and then forget about it!  It’s the classic go-to move for girls post break up — curling up in front of the TV with a carton of ice cream.  As cliche as it may seem, go for it and for those few minutes, forget about anything that’s bothering you!  My favourite is Prailines and Cream.  What about yours?

Allow yourself

Eat your favourite ice cream and then forget about it!  It’s the classic go-to move for girls post break up — curling up in front of the TV with a carton of ice cream.  As cliche as it may seem, go for it an

11. Workout after breakup for happy endorphins 

Maybe it’s just me, but a good run seems to purge some of the sadness and anger out of me.  Maybe it’s the pounding of my feet against the pavement or the sweat that makes me feel like it’s making my body get rid of any bad associated with the relationship.  Even if you haven’t been a runner in the past, give it a go and see how you feel.

12. Self-Care after a breakup

Self-care isn’t all about manis and pedis and facials.  It’s about making sure you’re focused on being your best self, whether that’s your mental, physical or emotional health.

When the pain is absolutely to unbearable, it’s time to start thinking beyond just doing things to make you feel better and actually looking towards your emotional health.  Considering  support, like therapy after your breakup is one of the best ways to deal with the underlying issues and pain. Also, there are many things you can do to improve your mood after a breakup as well.

13. Try something new

It can be cliche to say that a breakup can be a blessing in disguise, but if you use it as an opportunity to try something new then it’s absolutely true.  The perfect timing to put yourself out there and open yourself to traveling to a new country, taking a class you’ve always wanted to take or being adventurous is after a big life change like a breakup.

14. Treat yourself nicely

Treating yourself nicely can be as simple as indulging in a new tea or something more long-term like investing in your sleep with a weighted blanket (best thing ever, let me tell you!) Check out my list of the best gifts for someone struggling with anxiety and wanting to experience happiness.

15. Take up a challenge

You might think this is the wrong time to challenge yourself, but giving yourself a goal and working towards it can take your mind off of the pain you’re feeling, boost your self confidence and give you a new outlook on life.

With time and effort, you can learn how to be happy after your breakup and being able to give yourself a new learning experience can be just the way to do it.

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