How to Stay Inspired After Heartbreak

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After a romantic breakup, it’s understandable that you would feel hurt and pain. While it seems challenging to get through heartbreak, you can find ways to survive and stay motivated. In fact, you can even discover inspiration after this kind of loss.

Common Symptoms After A Breakup

Frequently, it’s hard to know what you’re feeling at all. It’s understandable as sadness, anger and lack of motivation may overlap. Or you start out feeling one thing and it morphs into something else.

The most common symptoms and reactions after a breakup include:

  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Mild depression
  • Anxiety
  • Regret
  • Shame
  • Broken-heartedness
  • Grief

Why Breakups Hurt So Intensely

If you’re feeling lovesick or like you’re going through withdrawal, don’t dismiss it. Your brain can react to romantic love just as someone who deals with substance abuse reacts to drugs. While at first, cortisol sends excitement and anxiety your way, then the neurochemical dopamine gets you happy and euphoric, similar to the reaction one gets after using cocaine or alcohol.

Now that you’ve broken up, you’re left without your fix. Your body and emotions have to readjust to this new normal. It’s common to feel anxiety or like your world has tilted on its side.

Others may feel great exhaustion or sadness. You might feel empty. Whatever your feelings, they are valid and yours.

It’s OK to Grieve

After being in a close relationship, nobody could fault you for mourning the end of an important romance.  Bianca L. Rodriguez, ED.M., LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, reminds her patients that when they grieve the loss of a relationship they’re showing reverence for the love they shared.

Rodriguez says, “It's sacred, so honor it by leaning in and allowing yourself to feel all the physical and emotional manifestations of your heartbreak.”

Remember that you’re not trying to push aside these uncomfortable feelings and sensations. You’re facing them and dealing with them now.

Are You Depressed?

The most common feeling after a breakup is that of sadness. But after heartbreak, many are not sure if they’re grieving or depressed

Mild or moderate depression might appear after you and your significant other decide to go your separate ways. Signs of mild or moderate depression include irritability, difficulty in concentrating and a blue kind of mood. Besides feeling down, this kind of depression is also marked by a persistent lack of interest in activities that usually give you pleasure.

It’s OK to feel depressed as you work your way through the heartbreak. When people experience a stressful life event, depression may be likely to follow.

Seek out a therapist online or in person, who can prescribe psychotherapy or a form of medication to help you get through it.

Broken Heart Syndrome Is A Real Thing

When you’re physically wounded, the same region of the brain is stimulated as when you’re emotionally wounded. So, it makes sense why that feeling of pain and rejection seems like it’s living in your body.

Some people recovering from the loss of a romantic partner get very stressed and it affects their heart. They get shortness of breath, pain in their chest and feel like they’re having a heart attack. Their heart muscles truly weaken.

This is called "broken heart syndrome." It’s also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. About 90% of those who suffer from stress induced cardiomyopathy are women.

Researchers reviewed 235,463 documented cases of broken heart syndrome reported on between 2006 and 2017. Based on the studyscientists found a significant increase of broken heart syndrome among middle‐aged to older women (ages 50 to 74).

The good news is this condition is reversible. Most people are easily treated and recover in a matter of weeks.

What Are the First Steps to Take After Heartbreak?

While you are allowing yourself time to feel the pain, you don’t want to unnecessarily add salt to the wound. Be gentle with yourself and ease your way to recovery.

Here are first steps to take to get over the breakup:

  • Limit interactions related to your partner. You can delete their number so you don’t call them. Or resist the urge to check on what they’re doing on social media. You can avoid hitting Starbucks when your ex is there. The idea is not to remind yourself of their presence.
  • Refrain from rumination. While it’s natural to mourn the end of a relationship, endless rumination about the breakup won’t help you. Try to refrain from imagining the “what if” scenarios.
  • Write down your feelings. Write in a journal about your feelings Expressing your sadness, grief and anxiety can be therapeutic.
  • Show yourself compassion. Be gentle with yourself and administer radical self-care.
  • Enlist the support of your friends. This isn’t the time to isolate yourself, but rather a time to express your feelings.
  • Talk with a therapist. A therapist can help you sort out the wide variety of emotions, yo may be feeling after your breakup. Rodriguez says, “At first, you may have zero inspiration and can’t get out of the fetal position. Go with that. Your feelings will shift and when they do, go with that."

Bianca L. Rodriguez, ED.M., LMFT

Heartbreak and grief have a life of their own. It's like riding the waves: sometimes they’re calm, other times turbulent and everything in between.

— Bianca L. Rodriguez, ED.M., LMFT

How to Stay Motivated as You Heal

As your feelings do start to shift, get into productive habits. Besides taking important steps to improve your psychological and emotional health, you can help your recovery process by addressing your physical needs.

Here are some things to day every day to ground you and get you back to a healthy place:

If you've tried all of these tips and find that you're still having a hard time healing, it might be helpful to talk to a therapist. Sometimes the middle is messy and your emotions might not follow a straight line. You might feel better one day and go backwards the next. Again, it’s all OK.

How to Move Forward and Stay Inspired

As you harnessed your feelings to help in the healing process, you are ready to move forward. That can be in a myriad of ways:

  • Return to passions you put aside. Did you stop doing something you enjoyed because your partner wanted you to do activities that they liked instead? Go back to dancing or volunteering to clean the local beach.
  • Find the lessons you learned from the relationship. Maybe moving forward, you realize that your lack of patience caused many arguments. Or maybe you didn’t allow yourself to be vulnerable. Be honest when you reflect.
  • Get creative. Rodriguez, advises that you look for opportunities to create. She says, “That could mean making a sandwich or writing a poem. Just be mindful of the moments where you feel inspired to do anything and do it, even if it's unfamiliar to you.”
  • Start something new. This can be a new hobby. Or start watching a new series on Netflix. Is that ceramics studio calling to you?
  • Reclaim your goals. If you put aside getting an advanced degree during the relationship, now that it’s over, register for the upcoming semester and pursue your dreams.
  • Change the self-talk. If you blame yourself, go down another path. If you second-guess your actions during the relationship, remind yourself that it ran its natural course. If you miss that person, remind yourself you have good memories and you’re moving on.
  • Look to the future. Future thinking can be a powerful tool according to positive psychology. Use your imagination and visualization to help you stay inspired and move you closer to achieving positive outcomes.
4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Verhallen AM, Renken RJ, Marsman JC, Ter Horst GJ. Romantic relationship breakup: An experimental model to study effects of stress on depression (-like) symptomsPLoS One. 2019;14(5):e0217320. Published 2019 May 31. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217320

  2. The Cleveland Clinic. Broken Heart Syndrome.

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Takosubo cardiomyopathy (broken-heart syndrome). Published January 29, 2020.

  4. Pattisapu VK, Hao H, Liu Y, et al. Sex- and Age-Based Temporal Trends in Takotsubo Syndrome Incidence in the United StatesJ Am Heart Assoc. 2021;10(20):e019583. doi:10.1161/JAHA.120.019583

By Barbara Field
Barbara is a writer and speaker who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.