How To Heal Your Heart
1. Feel Your Feelings.
No matter how hard you try to push down, suppress, ignore, or distract yourself from uncomfortable feelings like anger, sadness, despair, loneliness, guilt, resentment-your feelings will always find a way to come out. You can push against that and have them find their outlet at an unexpected time-like in a meeting with your boss or while chatting with an acquaintance at the parent drop off line-or you can just accept them, feel them, face them, and let them roll over you like a wave. Feel it all. The good and the bad, and then let it go. Sometimes, you are just miserable and you want to wallow for a little while. That’s ok. You can wallow, just don’t let yourself get stuck there. I have a rule when going through something hard-I can wallow-kick, scream, lay down in the floor and cry-but it has a time limit and when that time limit is up, I have to get up and move ahead with my day. The quicker you face and feel what you need to feel, the further you will go on your path to healing.
2. Focus on Gratitude.
I could talk all day about the benefits of practicing gratitude in every circumstance and every walk of life. No matter what hard thing you are walking through, there is always something good. It may be something as small as the feel of a favorite sweatshirt, the feel of the sun on your skin, or hitting all the green lights on your drive to work-but every day-notice the good. Better yet, make it a practice to write down the things that you’re grateful for every single day. You are made up of your thoughts-so make them full of gratitude.
Try this 5 Minute Gratitude Journal to help build a daily habit of gratitude:
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3. Make New Memories.
Heartbreak usually comes along with a big life change. As humans, we tend to cling to the familiar. It keeps us safe and in prehistoric times, it was probably a way to keep us alive. Most of our grief comes from expectations that go unfulfilled. We expected to spend our lives with someone, but then that dream went away. We felt safe and content with who we were, but then our identity gets shaken.
No matter what happens, keep living. Make it a personal challenge to have as many new experiences as you can. Do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone. I remember reading somewhere that you should do at least one thing every single day that scares you a little. That’s where you will feel most alive. Create new traditions, travel to new places, start conversations with interesting people…create your life, don’t just passively wait for things to happen to you.
4. Serve Others.
When you put your energy into pouring into others, you are really pouring into yourself too. Serving others takes the focus off of your pain and gives you a sense of purpose that is outside of yourself. It can often put things into perspective for you and help you remember that the world is so much bigger than you are. Find a way to give back to others. Challenge yourself to a random act of kindness once a week. Look for opportunities to make someone else’s day better. This will come back to you in ways that will surprise you.
5. Do The Things That Are Good For Your Soul.
When we are entrenched in our own pain and mourning, it’s easy to get wrapped up and weighed down by the heaviness that can bring. It’s easy to get stuck in the hurting, but you can’t let yourself get stuck there for too long. You have to move forward, no matter how slowly. That starts with finding the things that speak to your core and doing more of those things. Think of the people that feel like light to be around-and seek out more time with them. Reflect on what makes you feel at peace. Let yourself laugh. Whatever it is that makes you feel most alive? Do more of it.
6. Take Care of Your Body.
Science has shown us again and again-when you take care of yourself physically, you have more confidence, energy, and a better ability to cope. When you’re in a place of despair, it is easy to neglect your body. But don’t. Try to move every day. Dance. Drink enough water, take your vitamins. Indulge, but also balance it with eating the nutritious foods that fuel you. Relax. Get a massage, take a bubble bath, whatever it is that makes your body feel good-do it.
7. Give Yourself Grace.
This one can be tough. We tend to be much harder on ourselves that we are on others. We often judge ourselves harshly. Women tend to take everything on as our burden and beat ourselves up when we can’t fulfill the impossible task of being everything to everyone. When you are going through something hard-ESPECIALLY then-it is so important to give yourself the grace you would give to others. You’re not a failure for not being perfect. You aren’t a bad person for setting boundaries and saying no to something that isn’t good for you. You aren’t lazy for needing rest more than needing a perfectly spotless kitchen floor. You are human. Imperfect. Limited. Flawed. We all are. So give yourself a break. If you need a day to sit on the couch in your PJs and eat ice cream while binge watching Netflix-take it. If you lost your patience with your children, apologize, give extra hugs and kisses and try again tomorrow. Feeling guilty that you didn’t sign up to work the concession stand at every single game? Let it go. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are right now and let that be enough.