Big life changes can trigger a lot of anxiety for us and the end of a relationship is a big change, whether good or bad. We separate from our partner and feel like we are losing a part of ourselves in the process. The question is, how do we cope with that anxiety and come out of it stronger?
Anxiety is a natural response to danger. Ending a relationship is something that can feel dangerous as we are moving away from what we know, and that often means losing a sense of security which by default means danger.
Practically all of us will have gone through a break up at some point in our lives. It often happens in our younger years but it can happen at any time. Even marriages end. Ultimately, people change and we are constantly learning about ourselves so finding a partner to share the rest of your life with can be difficult.
Heartbreak is awful. It is physically painful but it’s vital to keep in mind that that feeling won’t last forever. We all process things differently but here are a few things that I would suggest for managing that anxiety.
1. Try to understand the situation/closure
Most people try to shut down their emotions when things get overwhelming. It’s almost a form of self-preservation. The thing is, when we shut down, we don’t give ourselves a chance to process the situation. How do we move on if we don’t have closure? Well, the answer is… you don’t.
In an ideal world, you will be able to talk it out with your ex and gain an understanding of why it didn’t work. Some relationships don’t end amicably, which means that’s not possible. Those situations often hurt the worst and trigger high levels of understanding. You may be left confused, and going over every little thing that you may have done wrong.
When trying to understand, it can help to talk to friends and family. Explaining the situation out loud can help clarify things to ourselves and even highlight something we may have missed.
Rather than looking for what you did wrong, look for the signs that may have been there all along. When we are in a relationship, we can ignore “red flags” but in hindsight, we can finally see what was there all along. Eventually, all of the pieces come together.
2. Speak to your GP (medication)
The anxiety caused by a break up can feel unbearable. It can cause havoc with your sleeping patterns, which in turn can make living your normal life almost impossible. Thankfully, there is support available. In the UK, you can call up your local GP and explain what you’re struggling with. It helps if they know the full circumstances so try and be as candid as you can.
If you’ve dealt with anxiety for a while then you may be familiar with some of the medications. There are medications like Propranolol that can help manage anxiety on lower levels so suggest things to your GP if there is something specific you have in mind.
3. Speak to your employer
Break-ups can affect your work. It’s a huge life change and the anxiety you may be experiencing may leave you unable to focus on anything else. Speak to your employer about your situation so that they are aware of what’s going on.
A number of employers have support services in place and by opening up to your employer, they may be able to get you the help that you need to get through that difficult time. Not only that, but by understanding your situation, they can adapt your workload and allow for some leniency.
4. Counselling if possible
Managing anxiety and moving forward with your life is a massive task after any big change in your life. This is where counselling can play a vital role. It offers you the option to talk through your thoughts and feelings with a professional who can guide that healing process. Counselling can help speed up th journey to getting closure and offer tools for dealing with the anxiety.
5. Arrange a few activities in the week
Distractions are a great way to combat anxiety. After all, anxiety starts with a thought whether conscious or subconscious. When we keep ourselves occupied, we don’t give ourselves a chance to focus on the rising anxiety. That’s not to say that it won’t be there at all, but it should be manageable.
Doing things throughout the week is also a way to move your life forward. A big part of a relationship is a routine that you have with someone. If you try to continue that routine, you will notice their lack of presence. By changing it up, you are building your own, new routine.
6. Don’t start dating straight away
One of the most tempting things to do after a break up is to start dating again. When a relationship ends, we often question our own self-worth and want to prove ourselves to still be desirable. There’s also an element of trying to heal that wound by replacing the partner. None of those things really help you to heal. It’ll just bring more problems later on down the line. Try to reconnect with friends more but also don’t be shy to make new friends. If something develops from that friendship later on, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just give yourself time to truly move on from the past relationship.
7. Be honest with yourself
Everybody heals in different ways. People will tell you how you should be feeling or what you should be doing but honestly, nobody can tell you what’s right for you. We all want to heal as quickly as possible but sometimes we will make mistakes during that process. That’s ok. That’s how we learn.
People might suggest you cut your ex out of your life. If you feel like speaking to them, then reach out. There’s no way to know whether it’ll make you feel better or not until you try. Be honest with yourself about what you really want.
The end of a relationship can be so painful but everything happens from a reason. We learn and grow from every life experience. Dealing with the anxiety is a part of that journey and although it’s horrible, it helps us to deal with future, life-changing events. It makes us stronger.