Build yourself up, stave off negativity and have some fun along the way
This is admittedly a somber topic to cover around Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, the big, red heart in the middle of your calendar isn’t a charm that can ward off romantic misfortune. If you recently experienced a breakup or even initiated one that simply needed to happen, you might need some impartial advice right now. As someone who has undergone rough romantic experiences and several sessions of therapy, I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to matters like this. If you find yourself in distress during this allegedly romantic month, the following strategies might prove helpful.
Develop a skill or start a project
“Stay busy” is a common piece of advice, but this strategy specifically asks you to practice something fun that you haven’t yet mastered. Perhaps practice an instrument, learn how to make a new recipe or write stories like your life depends on it. My personal strategy is to practice speed runs of “Super Mario 64,” but naturally you’re free to pick any activity that seems interesting. Regardless of what project you choose to undertake, the gratification you feel after a job well done will help reduce the strength of your negative emotions.
Break out of negative “loops”
After a fight or breakup, it’s easy to analyze your last encounter with a person endlessly. You might wonder what you could have done differently as a million alternative scenarios unfold in your mind. These “loops,” as I have dubbed them, won’t teach you anything new about a situation. Instead, you’ll simply harm your mood and, if you relive such memories at night, your sleep schedule. If you catch yourself in this situation, make a conscious effort to think about anything else. For example, you could ask a random question about something you’re curious about, such as how airplanes work or where this magazine’s paper came from. Envision the possible answers to your questions and look them up if you’re so inclined. This will help you disembark that negative train of thought and board a new, productive one.
Surround yourself with loved ones
It’s easy to forget during this time of year, but there are so many other valuable forms of love besides romance. Time spent with your family and friends will remind you that you’re still loved and appreciated. This doesn’t require much structure; just do what makes you happy. Your family and friends might not perfectly fill the void left by a breakup (much like how a square peg doesn’t fit in a round hole), but they’ll minimize it by showing that you’re needed and wanted by many.
Be kind to yourself
Life after a breakup is hard enough, and it doesn’t make sense to make it harder on yourself. Don’t berate yourself over events that weren’t even your fault in the first place. Instead, reframe such negative thoughts and learn from them. Rather than say, “I’m stupid because I did (that),” think, “(That) was a mistake, I won’t do that again, and I can prevent that from happening in the future by doing (this).” This both allows you to learn from past events and cast a specific occurrence, rather than yourself, as the antagonist.