Going through a breakup under normal circumstances is tough enough. But breaking up while social distancing gives you every right to feel even more lost, upset, and stressed out.
After all, the best breakup remedies—going out, seeing friends, planning a trip, and eventually dating someone new—are temporarily off the table. Without these distractions, the pain of your relationship ending will take center stage in your mind. Usually, the trick is to stay as busy as possible. But how can you do that when you’re stuck at home?
Add in the anxiety associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and these feelings will be magnified. It’s certainly not the best scenario to find yourself in when dealing with the end of a relationship. But rest assured that there are still plenty of ways to take good care of yourself and cope with a fresh breakup, even while you’re self-quarantining at home.
Talk to friends on video chat. First and foremost, remember you don’t need to be practicing social isolation right now, but physical isolation, Dr. Lea Lis, a double board-certified adult and child psychiatrist, tells HelloGiggles. There is absolutely no need to face your feelings alone. So go ahead and call, text, or FaceTime your friends and fam, and ask for their support.
Seeing a loved one’s face will help ease the loneliness you’re undoubtedly feeling right now, Sofia Robirosa, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says. The face-to-face time will make it easier to communicate what you’ve been experiencing.
There’s also online therapy available, Lis says, if you need extra advice. Do a quick search, or use apps like BetterHelp or TalkSpace to find a therapist to chat with from home. They’ll be able to offer tips for recovering from your breakup that are unique to your situation.
Get plenty of rest. If you don’t want to pour your heart out right away, that’s okay. “Right now, coronavirus is giving us all a collective trauma response, and the stress hormone cortisol is surging […] in full force,” says Jennie Steinberg, LMFT, LPCC, a therapist in private practice.
You’ll likely need to adjust your expectations, accept that things are weird and difficult, and develop patience for the whole “moving on” process. “It will take some time to heal,” Steinberg says, “and that is very normal.” Her advice? Watch your favorite shows, take a bunch of naps, and/or go to bed early.
Re-evaluate what you want. Once you’re ready, check back in with yourself. As Steinberg says, “The only way to process your emotions is to let yourself feel them.” So if you need to cry, cry. If you’re mad, be mad. But don’t bottle anything up and dull the pain: That will ultimately extend the grieving process and make you feel worse.
While the timing of the breakup is awful, in many regards, social distancing could provide the extra privacy and space you need to process your feelings and to think about what you want in life going forward. Who knows? You may come out on the other side feeling clearer about what you want in your next relationship.
Unfollow your ex on social media. Don’t hesitate to unfollow your ex on social media in order to give your mind a break. You absolutely will not heal if you’re constantly checking in on them or seeing their updates. Unfollow them, get rid of any reminders lying around your apartment, and view this as a fresh start.
If you happen to still be living with your ex, and/or are going to continue self-quarantining together, set up a few ground rules. “It’s important to set boundaries while you are sharing a living space and to make that an ongoing conversation with room for renegotiation if something isn’t working,” Steinberg says.
You might, for instance, agree that one of you will sleep on the couch, or that you’ll have access to the kitchen at different times, etc., until new living arrangements are made.
Do nice things for yourself. Be gentle with yourself through this breakup, no matter the situation. “Make a list of things that make you feel good and do them,” Rubirosa says.
Fill your schedule with activities that are comforting, fun, and interesting that you can do from home—things like reading books, playing guitar, drinking tea, and eating good foods. You’ll have an easier time living in the present instead of focusing on anxiety and sadness—or your ex.
“When [you’re] going through a breakup, it can be hard to not think about it,” Rubirosa says. But make a concerted effort to stick to a schedule, and bring your attention back to these positive things. Keep going until social distancing is over, and, before you know it, you’ll officially be moving on with your life.