What can heal a broken heart?

Having a broken heart can be one of the most painful experiences in life. Whether it’s due to a breakup, divorce, or loss of a loved one, the intense heartache can feel like it will never go away. However, there are many strategies and steps you can take to start mending your broken heart and moving on in a positive way.

Why does heartbreak hurt so much?

When you’re in love with someone, your brain becomes addicted to the happy chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin that are released when you’re with that person. Your brain actually forms new neural pathways that link your pleasure centers to thoughts and memories of your beloved. When that person is suddenly no longer in your life, it can feel like going through withdrawal from a drug. Your brain goes into mourning over the loss of those feel-good chemicals.

It’s also very painful to lose the emotional intimacy you once shared with your partner. Humans have an innate need to feel connected to others, so losing your primary attachment figure can make you feel empty, alone, and rejected.

Tips for coping in the initial raw stages of heartbreak

When your heart is freshly broken, simple things like getting out of bed, eating, showering, or focusing on work can feel extremely difficult. Here are some tips to get you through those excruciating early stages of heartbreak:

  • Let yourself cry as much as you need to. Crying releases stress hormones that will help you start to feel better.
  • Rely on support from friends and family. Don’t try to hide your pain – leaning on loved ones can help lighten the burden.
  • Make self-care a priority. Do your best to still get good sleep, nutrition, exercise, and hygiene every day.
  • Avoid contacting your ex right away. Give yourself time to start healing before attempting communication.
  • Stay busy with work, hobbies, or volunteer work. Idle time can make heartbreak feel more painful.
  • Try not to make any major life decisions for the time being.
  • Consider seeing a counselor. Having an objective person to talk to can be very helpful.

How to ease emotional pain and loneliness

Your emotional anguish may feel constant and overwhelming at first. Here are some ways you can start to find moments of relief:

  • Let it all out. Have a good cry session, call a friend to vent for an hour, scream into a pillow. Getting emotions out is cathartic.
  • Try mood-boosting activities. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins. Enjoy a funny movie or book that makes you laugh.
  • Pamper yourself with relaxing treats. Get a massage, have a spa day, take a long bath by candlelight.
  • Spend time with people who care about you. Lean on friends and family for comfort and distraction.
  • Consider adopting a pet. Pets provide constant companionship and physical affection.
  • Join a support group. Sharing experiences with others who are also heartbroken can ease the loneliness.

Ways to start reframing your mindset

The intense emotional pain of heartbreak can put you in a very negative headspace. Here are some ways to start retraining your mindset to be more positive:

  • Write in a journal. Getting thoughts and feelings out on paper can help provide clarity and perspective.
  • Practice gratitude. Make a daily list of things you’re grateful for to refocus on the positive.
  • Try affirmations. Repeat uplifting mantras like “I am strong” to reprogram your mindset.
  • Visualize your happy future. Picture yourself feeling joyful and fulfilled again.
  • Listen to empowering music. Make a playlist of encouraging, feel-good songs.
  • Focus on each day. Don’t get overwhelmed looking too far ahead.

Ways to rediscover your sense of self

It’s easy to lose yourself when recovering from heartbreak. Reconnect with who you are with these strategies:

  • Revisit your values. What’s important to you in life? What do you stand for?
  • Get back into your interests. Pursue hobbies that light you up inside.
  • Set some personal goals. Sign up for a class, start a bucket list, challenge yourself.
  • Indulge your independence. Enjoy activities by yourself that you like.
  • Rekindle old friendships. Spend quality time with people who know the real you.
  • Change up your look. Get a new haircut, update your wardrobe, refresh your style.
  • Become your own cheerleader. Hype yourself up instead of being self-critical.

Ways to rediscover your passions and joy

When you’re depressed, it can seem impossible to feel passionate or joyful about anything again. To recapture those feelings:

  • Immerse yourself in a project. Lose yourself in a meaningful activity like art, music, gardening, home renovation, etc.
  • Learn something new. Take a class on an interesting skill, language, or subject.
  • Plan adventures. Book tickets for concerts, festivals, trips – things to anticipate.
  • Adopt a playful mindset. Be open to spontaneity, embrace your childlike excitement.
  • Pick up old hobbies again. Revisit activities that used to make you enthusiastic.
  • Listen to music that energizes you. Make playlists full of your favorite feel-good songs.

Healthy ways to process your grief

Grieving the end of a relationship is a long process that has to run its course. Allow yourself to fully work through the stages of grief in healthy ways:

  • Let yourself feel sadness and cry when you need to. Bottling up will only prolong the pain.
  • Pour your feelings into a journal, poem, song, or art project as a creative outlet.
  • Talk it out with supportive friends and family who will listen without judgment.
  • See a counselor or join a support group to help work through emotional blocks.
  • Do something symbolic like throwing away mementos or deleting old emails to achieve closure.
  • Forgive your ex and yourself. Accept that the relationship wasn’t meant to be long-term.
  • Have faith that the intensity of grief will pass in time.

When to seek professional help

It’s normal to feel depressed and despondent after heartbreak. But if certain symptoms persist longer than a couple months, it may be time to seek professional counseling:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to function in daily life
  • Depression that gets progressively worse instead of better
  • Using alcohol or drugs to numb emotional pain
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Extreme difficulty getting out of bed every day
  • Constant thoughts/obsession over your ex

A licensed therapist can provide tools to help you move forward in a healthy way. Antidepressant medication may also help if prescribed.

Using this painful experience for growth

With time and healing, your breakup can actually end up being an important catalyst for positive growth. You can use this pain to fuel meaningful introspection and changes that improve your life in the long run:

  • Take stock of your own behavior and what you could do better in future relationships.
  • Re-evaluate what you truly want and need from a romantic partner.
  • Improve your communication skills for greater intimacy in the next relationship.
  • Reflect on areas for self-improvement like interests, health, career.
  • Regain your independence and learn you don’t need a partner to be happy.
  • Understand more clearly the type of partner that is best for you.
  • Appreciate the learning experience to help you make better choices.

Signs you are making true progress healing

It takes time, but you’ll know your heart is gradually starting to mend when you notice these positive signs:

  • You feel ready to try dating or meeting new people.
  • Hearing or seeing your ex does not cause a painful emotional reaction.
  • You stop romanticizing your previous relationship.
  • You can look back objectively and see incompatibilities.
  • Your mood and sleep quality have improved.
  • You start feeling enthusiastic about life and the future again.
  • You go entire days without crying over the breakup.
  • You begin letting go of anger, resentment, or desire for revenge.

Ways to rebuild your confidence

Breakups often cause self-esteem to plummet. To restore confidence in yourself:

  • Make a list of all your positive qualities, gifts, and skills.
  • Stop negative self-talk and instead practice self-affirmations.
  • Spend more quality time with people who appreciate and support you.
  • Challenge yourself regularly to step outside your comfort zone.
  • Take more risks and learn from the outcomes regardless.
  • Do nice things for yourself – get massages, buy flowers, treat yourself.
  • splurge on some new clothes, makeup, or a great haircut.
  • Keep a list of accomplishments and praise you receive.

How and when to start dating again

It’s very normal to be hesitant to start dating again after heartbreak. Take care not to rush into it before you are truly ready:

  • Wait until you have begun to heal, feel positive again, and are open to meeting new people.
  • Start slowly at first when you venture into dating again so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
  • Consider seeing a therapist if you still feel fearful, angry, or closed off to finding love.
  • Use dating as a social experience to remember that not every date has to lead to marriage.
  • Don’t talk excessively about your past relationship on dates. Stay focused on the present.
  • Have faith you can eventually find someone even better suited for you.

Ways to rediscover meaning and purpose

A breakup often forces you to question your purpose. Rediscover meaning again with these tips:

  • Identify activities and hobbies that give you a sense of joy and fulfillment.
  • Volunteer for a cause you care deeply about.
  • Take up meaningful work helping people or animals.
  • Go back to school to gain education in your dream field.
  • Make a “bucket list” of adventures you want to tackle in life.
  • Find groups or clubs centered on your interests.
  • Take chances and seek out new experiences.
  • Set ambitious goals for your personal growth and development.

Learning to open your heart again

The idea of opening your heart again after it’s been broken can feel frightening and hopeless. But it is possible with time and the right mindset shifts:

  • Practice self-compassion – you are worthy and deserving of love.
  • Let go of past hurts, biases, anger, and fears.
  • Take emotional risks in small, manageable steps.
  • Don’t guard your heart too closely or self-sabotage new relationships.
  • Communicate your feelings and needs clearly to nurture intimacy.
  • Have faith that there are good, caring partners out there if you stay optimistic.
  • Don’t let your past heartbreak close you off from future wonderful connections.


Healing from heartbreak takes time, self-care, hard inner work, support, and faith. Let yourself feel all the emotions, grieve the loss, and be patient with yourself. With gentle persistence, you can slowly mend your broken heart and eventually move forward again. Have courage that you can heal, regain meaning in life, and one day open yourself up to find love again when the time feels right.

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