Mentally Strong Person of the Week: Amy Chan, Author of Breakup Bootcamp

How to stay strong when your heart is broken

Amy Chan is the mentally strong person of the week.

Verywell / Julie Bang

In the “Mentally Strong Person of the Week” series, I’ll share wisdom from some of my favorite guests on my podcast, “Mentally Strong People." I’ll explain the strategies they use to stay mentally strong and then give you my take (as a therapist) on how you can apply these strategies to your own life.

When Amy Chan went through a tough breakup, she struggled to heal her broken heart. She felt depressed, anxious, and she even became suicidal.

The experience made her realize that there aren’t many resources available for people who are struggling to recover from a breakup. So she had to figure it out on her own.

This inspired her to launch Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat for people who want to learn how to deal with a broken heart in a healthy way. 

Amy has since written a book called Breakup Bootcamp in which she takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. It’s filled with strategies that help manage the painful emotions that often accompany a breakup. 

Amy Chan

We have compound trauma that adds up. And then that last one kind of catapults us into this journey of healing and feeling it all at once.

— Amy Chan

Amy took something very painful and turned it into an opportunity to help others. She learned from her experiences, and now she’s sharing her wisdom so other people can avoid unnecessary suffering and grow stronger from their experiences too. 

While Amy shared many helpful tips during her interview on the Mentally Strong People podcast, here are three of my favorite strategies as well as my take on how you can apply them to your own life.

Detox from an ex after a breakup

If you’ve ever found yourself looking at your ex’s social media accounts or re-reading old text messages after a breakup, you’re not alone. Amy talked about our natural tendency to feel like we’re still somehow connected even when we aren’t together anymore. 

But keeping tabs on your ex or re-reading old messages only gives temporary relief. Ultimately, it prolongs the pain by delaying your grief.

Amy Chan

Your body's in a state of shock, and it's going to try and do whatever it can to get more of that feeling. And so sometimes we're stalking their Instagram or re-reading text messages or even calling them and having a fight.

— Amy Chan

Amy suggests doing a detox from your ex—even if you plan to be friends down the road. Although it’s painful, it’s necessary to give yourself a chance to begin healing.

My Take

Trying to hold onto a relationship after it has ended affects your mental health. Trying to stay connected with someone when you aren’t in a relationship leads to more suffering.

Although it’s painful to emotionally disconnect, a detox can help you do that. Put your time and energy into healing your broken heart, not trying to maintain an unhealthy connection with your ex. The sooner you disconnect, the sooner you can start rebuilding your life.

Push yourself in the early days after a breakup

Amy talked about the importance of surrounding yourself with healthy people and pushing yourself to get involved in new activities. This can help you begin to establish a new routine.

Amy Chan

One of the things you need to do after a breakup is to create a strategy on how you are going to fill your time.

— Amy Chan

My Take

Sometimes, people think that self-care after a break up means sitting around in your pajamas and eating ice cream. But that’s self-pity, not self-care.

While it’s important to let yourself experience sadness, healing also involves pushing yourself to do things you don’t want to do. Whether that means eating dinner with friends or taking a class, put yourself out there. 

This doesn’t mean you should ignore your feelings by “staying busy.” That’s not healthy either. But, taking positive action while also allowing yourself time to grieve can be key to healing a broken heart. 

Practice self-compassion

Amy talked about how tempting it is to beat yourself up for taking a breakup so hard. You might think, “I shouldn’t be this upset,” or “I’m so stupid for thinking this relationship could actually work out.”

But whatever emotions you feel are OK. And responding to these emotions in a healthy way will put you on the path to healing.

Amy Chan

When you judge yourself for feeling bad, you just add an extra layer of shame.

— Amy Chan

My Take

It’s OK to feel really bad when a relationship ends. But Amy is right—insisting you are a loser for feeling bad won’t help. Instead, it's important to practice self-compassion.

When you catch yourself being too hard on yourself, just ask, “What would I say to a friend who felt this way?” You likely wouldn’t tell your friend that they’re stupid for feeling bad. Instead, you might offer them some kind words and reassurance. Try offering those same kind words to yourself, and you’ll heal much faster. 

To hear more of Amy’s mental strength suggestions, listen to the full episode on my Mentally Strong People podcast. Each week, I’ll share another Mentally Strong Person and explain how their strategies can help you think, feel, and do your best in life.

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