Leaving toxic relationships can feel like both the best and worst moments of your life. The best because, well, you’re out of a relationship that sucked your soul dry. And the worst, because you have no idea where to go next.
“Loving yourself is the most important step in a relationship, and recognizing when to leave a relationship is the second. Relationships can consume a vast amount of our mental and emotional space, and when they go wrong, they can cause immeasurable pain,” says physician Kristen Fuller, M.D.
If you’re recently free of a long-term relationship that turned out to be utterly toxic, here are the best ways to put yourself back together.
Here Are 10 Ways To Release Emotions and Heal From Toxic Relationships
These tips can help you let go and restore your peace of mind.
1. Get help!
Really, honestly. Get help. It doesn’t have to be a therapist, but once you’re free of a bad relationship, you’re going to want to find someone to help you deal with yourself. Maybe it’s your mom, or maybe it’s your best friend. You’re going to need a support system to get through the next few tumultuous months.
“People in toxic relationships need help from friends, family, and professionals to commit to change. There is no AA or NA for this. Changing is a process and not simply a decision,” adds Fuller. So even if you pride yourself on being a strong, independent woman, it’s time to text your bestie and ask for some support. You can thank me later.
2. Let yourself wallow outside of the toxic relationship
In the absolutely timeless words of Lorelai Gilmore: you have to wallow. Sure, you might be happy that the relationship is over, but feelings are way more complicated than that. When a relationship is over, trying to bounce back into your normal life isn’t the best solution. It’s totally okay, and recommended, to take a day or two over the weekend and eat an entire pint of chocolate ice cream while listening to the worst songs available on iTunes.
3. Okay, now stop wallowing
The wallowing stage needs to happen for a weekend, max. Then, it’s time to put on your big-kid pants and face the world again. You’re going to have many feelings to process, but it’s time to process them more healthily.
“Once you have given yourself four days of moping, it is time to cope. Sign up for community service, join a new yoga class, and go to brunch with your girlfriends … and plan your schedule out so that you are busy meeting new people and remembering how much fun life can be without your ex,” says celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert, Alessandra Conti.
Letting yourself feel your emotions is important. However, you want to make sure that you’re not letting them overwhelm you. Bad feelings happen, but there’s always a time to let them go and move on. Better yet, think of all the super cool things you can do with your newfound independence! Think positive.
4. Find a new outlet for stress (other than toxic relationships)
The relationship is over, and now you’ve got all these feelings inside of you. Not good, right? Definitely not. But now is the time to find your brand-new stress outlet.
“Spend time with people who make you feel good, treat yourself to your favorite meal, go to church, spend time outside, or do whatever brings you joy. Going through a tough time in a relationship can cause incalculable stress: It’s important to try to replace those negative emotions with positivity,” adds Fuller.
Maybe you’re the type of person that really needs to write out all of your feelings. If so, buy yourself a brand-new journal, some fancy pens, and let her rip. Or, maybe you’re a more physical person. Taking up jogging or hitting the gym is probably a better way for you to burn off all those excess feelings.
5. Get out of your house and hang out with your friends
Seriously. How tempting is it to hang out by yourself after the end of a relationship in your apartment? If your friends know about the break-up, they’re probably already chomping at the idea of getting you back in the groove. So, take them up on their offer. Treat yourself to feeling good and surrounding yourself with friends. It’s part of the healing process, so don’t think you can skip it. Because you shouldn’t.
6. Let yourself have brand new experiences
At the end of a bad relationship, you have the opportunity to experience all kinds of new things that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Don’t let yourself chicken out. You’re on the cusp of a brand-new chapter of life!
“Often, people in dysfunctional relationships start to lose themselves, forget themselves, and their happiness is often no longer a priority,” says therapist Samantha Carbon.
Moving on and keeping yourself sane after a breakup practically requires trying new things, even if those new things are something as small as a drink you’ve never tried before. New experiences are going to keep you going for a while, so don’t turn them down.