The worst way to get over a breakup
Feeling heartbroken? Put down the pen and back away from the diary. Journaling can make it harder to get over a breakup, according to a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science.
In a study of 90 recently divorced or separated men and women, researchers from the University of Arizona asked participants to journal for 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days. Researchers instructed some of them to "really let go and explore your very deepest emotions and thoughts;" others to tell the story of their failed relationship as a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end; and the rest to keep an emotionless log of their daily activities.
The researchers assessed the participants' emotional states--including how reflective they were--before the journaling began, and then followed up with the three groups 8 months later. They found that the people who were the most reflective had made the least progress getting over their breakups when they had journaled emotionally for three days. Those who wrote daily logs, however, had made the most progress. People with less ruminative personalities made similar progress despite how they journaled for the three days.
"For people who are 'very in their head,' journaling about a breakup can effectively amplify their distress," says lead author and psychological scientist David Sbarra, Ph.D. "When journaling, they begin brooding on how bad they feel, reflecting on how bad the breakup sucks." It becomes a bit of an echo chamber. By focusing on daily activities, however, people can better engage in life, determine how they want to spend their time, and find definition outside of the relationship, he says. It forces them to think practically, rather than in impractical what-ifs.
Not sure how to get over your guy now that journaling's out? Here, eight healthy ways for anyone--even dwellers--to get past a breakup:
Breakups suck, and it's only natural to feel miserable (even if you don't take your feelings to pen and paper). The key is to limit the amount of time you let yourself think about the breakup every day, Sbarra says. "Tell yourself, 'I can think about it for 30 minutes or an hour a day, or I can only think about it when I'm at home. But when I leave home and shut the door, I have to shut the door on those feelings, too,'" he says. Drawing the line (even if you cross it from time to time) will allow you to process your feelings while still making moving on a priority. (Splitting from your partner isn't only hard emotionally--it can also lead to physical pain. Learn What Happens to Your Body When You're Heartbroken.)
See your ex everywhere you look? Get him out of your head by tossing his toothbrush, pictures, and anything else that reminds you of him, says marriage and family therapist Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D. Research has also shown that staying connected to an ex on Facebook can stunt your breakup recovery, so drop whatever virtual connections you still have.
Video: How to break up with someone
Fight the urge for quality time with your couch and get at least some physical activity daily, Hokemeyer says. During a breakup, your brain pumps out cortisol, epinephrine, and other stress hormones that can cause headaches, tense muscles, and tummy troubles. Exercise, however, triggers the release of mood-boosting endorphins, relaxes muscles, and eases digestion to help you feel like yourself. (Reap these mind-body benefits by hitting the gym, going for a run, or trying this Calming Yoga Routine.)
"Every day, write down five things for which you are grateful. Use the list to ground yourself when you start to get overwhelmed by anger, fear, or sadness," Hokemeyer says. Research shows that writing down what you're thankful for can increase gratitude and feelings of wellbeing.
Help others to help yourself. By increasing empathy, which makes you appreciate the good stuff in your own life, volunteering can boost your happiness, he says. Try not to smile when you are getting covered in puppy kisses! Whatever your interests, you can find a way to get your warm and fuzzies on at volunteermatch.org. (Research also shows that volunteers have lower rates of depression than their peers. Check out these 12 Ways To Volunteer.)
You and your boyfriend might have broken up, but you aren't alone. Spend time with your friends and ask for support when you are feeling down, he says. Besides helping you reengage in other non-couple activities and boost your self-esteem, research shows the simple act of hanging with friends can up your levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
Bing: Girl's night food
Write yourself notes with positive affirmations like "I am perfect the way I am." "The physical act of writing them will enable you to shift your emotional state," Hokemeyer says. Put them up in your home, office, and car as constant reminders of how great you are--beau or no beau.
While a pint of ice cream and buttery popcorn can seem like the perfect post-breakup friends, research shows they can actually drag down your mood through the release of stress hormones, according to a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Obesity. However, foods rich in vitamin D, folate, and omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to promote mental health and cut rates of depression.
love: friendship, dating, sex & marriage
Summer love can be sweet. But it tends to be fast, feverish and often fleeting. In a season where emotions run hot, here are some rules to help avoid heartbreak.
Grab the popcorn—this story is the stuff of soap operas.
This short course in flirting will not only teach you how to flirt better but also how to tell when someone is flirting with you—and how to respond. Have fun.
The decline and fall of the married sex life is a myth, says Aaron Traister. The truth is so much hotter.
When should you try to save your relationship, and when should you let go?
Wondering if your summer love will last? Here are 15 signs if your seasonal love is fleeting or for real.
Sixteen years after "Titanic’s" release—and 101 years after the historic ship’s notorious sinking—our hearts still go on for star-crossed lovers Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). We rounded up some of our favorite ill-fated, but oh-so-romantic affairs on film, from "Gone with the Wind" to "Moulin Rouge!".
Flirting shouldn't be retired once you've got the ring. We asked relationship expert Harlan Cohen, as well as real husbands, the best way to keep the sparks flying.
When we're annoyed by male behavior, we turn to columnist Aaron Traister. His logic may be strange, but we have to admit, it's pretty helpful. Here, he answers our many questions for guys.
Author Amanda Robb talks to clinical psychologist David Schnarch, Ph.D., author of Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships and Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship, to discover the ways she can relight the fire in her own relationship. What she learned just might help you wake up your own libido.
A new survey reveals the dining preferences of cheaters.