2018 is now well underway and for some, it’s time celebrate the romance of Valentine’s; for others this is a date in the calendar they’d rather forget. The chance to rejoice and reflect on our relationships and invest some quality time with our loved ones is a great notion. But what should you do and how should you feel following a messy relationship split? How do you move on and how can you learn to celebrate yourself? I’ve got 10 things you can put into action this week.
1. Give yourself the chance to grieve
Grieve? That’s a strong word, but please bear with me. A break-up can be very stressful and involves loss. It’s an experience that is both unsettling and unnerving to all parties, leaving a sense of confusion about the future and a wave of different emotions to cope with. Sometimes having only ‘yourself’ to think about feels strange and unnatural.
When you don’t know what to do with these new thoughts and feelings it’s vital not to put them to the back of your mind and blindly carry on. By grieving for the relationship and understanding the loss, you can better plan to move on. When recovering from a sudden life-shift, always allow yourself time to reflect on what has happened, there’s no need to rush, so take your time to recuperate, to feel upset, but please avoid negative thoughts and resentment, no good can be found there.
2. Learn to love yourself first
Time marches on and as the saying goes, is a great healer, so, sooner or later you will start thinking about the tentative steps to finding your new match, the new companion, even the elusive ‘soul mate’. But before you set off head-long relationship bound, consider this. Perhaps you should begin by re-connecting with the relationship you have with yourself. There’s strong evidence to suggest that if you love yourself first – not in a selfish way, naturally – this will naturally lead to others loving you. This is love in a self-accepting, self-understanding way.
3. Healthy body, healthy mind
Give yourself the opportunity to reconnect with you. A healthy body always goes hand-in-hand with mental positivity and that helps to provide the vital self-confidence you need. By heading to the gym or club, you can begin to work on some of your inner frustrations and emotions and achieve something for you, the individual. Remember, exercising can be a social activity – you’re surrounded with those who may have similar goals and who enjoy the same things as you, giving you the chance to build new connections and friendships.
Facing a break-up can sometimes make you want to hide away. Avoid this. You miss out on more than you’ve lost. Welcome your nearest and dearest as they can help you through difficult times. Granted, immediately after a break-up, the negative feelings can be overwhelming and confusing – but keep the lines of communication open. Is there a group of friends that you never get around to seeing? Maybe a relative ‘too far’ away to visit? This is an ideal opportunity to reconnect.
Start saying yes. Be ready to agree to invites and opportunities offered to you by friends and family. Getting out there will not only give you a chance to be sociable and improve self-confidence, but you may also discover a good listener.
5. What does it mean to be you?
When we invest a large portion of our time in another person, we tend to focus more on their needs than our own – this is perfectly natural, of course. However, when the focus that is usually reserved for a partner is suddenly skewed, it can leave you unsure about what it is you actually want for yourself.
Thinking about your own needs can feel pretty unnatural at first, but following a break-up could be the perfect time to reassess where you are in life and what you want to achieve moving forward. You may question whether the job or even your career is right for you, or if you’re living where you want to be. Now is a chance to do things for you, to decide whether you want to change where you are or if you are actually fundamentally happy. You may conclude that you are content with your situation, which would be a great outcome. By being truthful to yourself and properly understanding your needs, there will be less room for regret later in life.
6. The best time is ‘me-time’
Who doesn’t love a chance to be pampered? To re-connect with yourself and feel a renewed inner confidence – a couple of days here and there, to experience full relaxation and even some self-indulgence can bring out the best in all of us. Try this; think about what it is that makes you feel genuinely happy and make a list – giving yourself plenty of scope to make yourself glow inside.
Obviously, this needs to be balanced with a dose of normality, but small bursts of indulgence intertwined with your regular life can go a long way to making you feel fantastic. Experiences that help you feel calm and recuperated are ideal pursuits for ‘me-time’, as they help you relax but also allow you some important time to reflect. Even consider some retail therapy, treating yourself to something you have always wanted to buy; if it makes you feel good about you, then I say go for it.
7. Eat well and get creative
When we talk about how being healthy could increase happiness, it doesn’t only mean exercise. Eating clean and eating fresh means avoiding sugary, fatty and highly processed foods. A good diet will contribute to feeling better in every way, giving that extra boost of confidence when you need it most. Preparing nourishing and delicious meals is not only an excellent way to get healthy, but also means you can get creative in the kitchen. Source new recipes or twists on your all-time favourite dishes and do something nice just for you.
Cooking can also be a very sociable activity, so invite friends and family over to eat, and even get to know someone better amidst the chopping for a fun meal. The compliments that follow after you prepare a delicious dish can go a long way to boost your confidence – there’s a sense of achievement that goes with it, making your time much more valuable than digging into a takeaway box.
8. Try something new
While Valentine’s Day itself is traditionally all about visiting restaurants or taking romantic walks, it can all get a little repetitive, can’t it? Now is the chance to go somewhere brand new to you, completely unexplored territory. If there has been a place or event you have always wanted to visit, take the opportunity for a little adventure. By breaking out of your normal space you can burst out of your comfort zone and learn a lot about yourself, as well as even learning to enjoy your own company. Many single people do take the plunge to travel somewhere or experience something new for the sheer adventure of it, another chance to reconnect with themselves and return with a completely changed frame of mind.
Or, why not learn something new? It could be anything – a cooking class (how about joining one of Friday’s Masterclasses?), a book club or perhaps dancing has always sounded fun. The point is, nothing is stopping you from getting stuck in and giving it a go. A new hobby not only fills up dull spare time, but you’ll feel a sense of achievement afterwards. Once again, there will probably be other like-minded people setting out to do the exact same thing – potentially under the same circumstances – making sure you feel less alone in what you’re going through. Start rewarding yourself.
9. Make someone’s day
We’ve talked quite a lot so far about doing things for yourself, but what about helping others? Try reinvesting some of the time you may have spent looking after your partner into focusing on those around you who may need some extra help. Maybe you have a relative who needs assistance, or a local project needs volunteers, or simply just somebody who needs cheering up.
Putting yourself forward can make a difference to others and will have positive effects everywhere. It’s a win-win – you feel a sense of achievement and self-worth and those that you support will be incredibly happy and grateful. Not that I’m encouraging spending – but you could buy someone a wonderful gift and make them smile. Saying that, just one kind word to somebody else can change their entire day, and words are free.
10. Throw away the clichés
Lastly, Valentine’s Day is a day that is difficult to escape – all the hearts, teddies and roses are everywhere to be seen. There are of course the obvious movie stereotypes related to spending Valentine’s Day alone – characters shown crying with a tub of ice cream (don’t do this!) and a sentimental sappy romance – but that really does not have to be you. Break away from the obvious clichés to escape falling into the Valentine’s Day blues. Avoid using it as a day to feel sad about a break-up; instead see it as a chance to take stock and appreciate yourself – a well-deserved fresh start.
As well as being one of Friday’s regular experts, Russell Hemmings is a life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, and author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting. Call 055 286 7275 or visit russellhemmings.co.uk.