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Breakups are the worst. You build a mini world with (or around) someone, they give you a bunch of feels, but then for some reason or another — it just ends. Regardless of who broke up with whom, or why, moving on from your ex can feel like one of the hardest things in life.
Unfortunately, it might always feel that way. Ending a relationship is difficult at any age. But it can be especially hard on young adults, who are often experiencing heartbreak for the very first time.
So it’s not a huge surprise that studies have found breakups to be the leading cause of psychological distress among teens and young adults.
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The reality is, most people will experience some kind of heartbreak at least once in their lives. Despite the fact that you’d rather stay in bed, wallow in your pain and eat a bunch of junk food, you can’t do that forever (sorry!). So it’s super important to find ways to process your loss and, eek, eventually move on.
Luckily, plenty of research has been done to prove that your broken heart will eventually heal. But beyond giving a fresh wound some time to mend, here are five science-backed ways to help you get over heartbreak:
1. Listen to sad music.
It may seem counterintuitive. Like, why are you going to listen to sad music when you’re already super depressed? But there’s actually a good reason behind it. According to a 2014 study, listening to sad music after a breakup can bring out some positive emotions within you. Apparently your brain gets pleasure from connecting with sad songs, so it makes you feel understood and less alone.
2. Take the time out to really process it.
While you shouldn’t wallow in your misery forever, it’s still important to take time to do it. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, taking the time to reflect on the relationship can help with emotional recovery. When you’re able to fully process the past and what happened, it’s easier to reorganize your sense of self, so you’re more capable of moving forward.
3. Think only good things about yourself.
When you’re the one who gets dumped, it’s easy to feel like it’s all your fault. You’re not good enough, you’re not attractive enough, you’re boring, you’re not lovable. But as research has found, people who internalize rejection have a much harder time getting over breakups. So instead of having a self-defeating attitude, think of all the amazing and wonderful things about yourself. Not even kidding, you should make a list. If this is too embarrassing for you, ask a best friend to sit and make one for you.
4. Go after the rebound.
Rebound relationships typically happen immediately after a breakup. While it wouldn’t be the first suggestion, a 2014 study noted that people who found a rebound post-breakup were better off than people who chose to stay single. The only thing is, these people did wait about seven months before getting into their rebound relationship. So they definitely followed tip #2 and gave their heartache some time to settle.
5. If all else fails, fake it ’til you make it.
It may sound crazy, but a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Neuroscience found that telling yourself that you’re over a breakup can potentially trick your brain into thinking that you actually are. But that’s not all. Researchers found that doing anything you think will make you feel better probably will.
You could go for a run, talk it out with friends, or take a class that you’ve always wanted to try. Just do something that will give you a sense of hope that you will eventually move forward with your life. Trying a new activity will also force your brain to prioritize learning a new skill (and offer a slight reprieve from obsessing over sadness).
We can’t promise that breakups will get too much easier as you get older. But the good news is, studies have found that people greatly overestimate the amount of time it actually takes to get over one. On average, people take about six to eight weeks.
Plus, it sucks to hear, but we really do learn something about ourselves (and the types of people we want in our lives) each time we go through something like a breakup. Heal your heart, and then get out into the world!