LIFE & HEALTH CHALLENGES

Divorce or Relationship Breakup

Relationship breakups happen for many reasons. Often a breakup or a divorce is not someone’s ‘fault’, it’s simply the outcome of one or many incompatibilities. No matter what you’ve tried, it’s just not working out. And that is likely to be painful – but okay.

Sometimes these breakdowns have taken us completely by surprise as we had no idea that our friends or family saw things so differently to ourselves. People we thought would be our closest allies are suddenly hostile or they cannot reconcile our viewpoint with theirs.

“The things in life that cause us greatest anguish and pain are generally the very things that also cause us to know ourselves deeply.”

Petrea King

A relationship breakup can be a major challenging life event, and the depth of its emotional impact can depend on many factors: the duration of the relationship, your current life stage and age, if children are involved, or if there is a history of substance, emotional or physical abuse.

You might feel relieved and finally free, or you might feel incredibly sad, bereft, alone and despondent. The range of emotions can come in waves. Some days you’re feeling much better, and some days you find yourself in tears.

Whether it’s amicable or hostile, a relationship breakup or divorce is a loss that can be overwhelming. You might find it hard to imagine a future, but it’s important to remember that you will one day feel better.

Remember, it can take a long time to heal from a breakup or divorce. Social expectations and conditioning can often mean that men and women deal with relationship breakups differently.

Here’s some ideas for men and women about how to deal with a relationship breakup or divorce. Read through all the suggestions as they’re not always specific to men or women.

Immediate help

  • Call 000 if your life is in danger
  • For crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyondblue website contains many useful forums and resources

For men dealing with a breakup

A relationship breakup is tough, no matter how it happened.

  1. Feel the feelings
    Men often get told to ‘toughen up’ or ‘man up’ when emotions are involved. But sometimes you just want to let it all out, and that’s okay. Allow your emotions to take centre stage, whether it’s sadness, anger, disbelief, shock or grief. Just do it safely, so you don’t harm others, or yourself.
  1. Get active
    Go for a run or to the gym, or play sport with some mates. Exercise has many benefits: it helps the body release feel-good hormones called endorphins, and helps you feel stronger and more capable. Sweating it out can be a great booster for your sense of confidence.
  2. Spend time with your mates
    Get together with friends who you trust and whose company you enjoy. Do something together and get talking. It really helps to get some of those thoughts and emotions off your chest.
  3. Go easy on the alcohol or drugs
    Sometimes it’s easier to bury emotions in alcohol or drugs. But depressants or stimulants deplete your body and don’t make the problem go away. Try the ‘Coming to Your Senses’ meditation instead – see the link below.
  4. Give yourself time
    Don’t pressure yourself to be ‘over it’. Working through a relationship breakup is a process. There’s no quick-fix solution, but you will feel better in time, especially if you put some of these ideas into practice. And be careful: don’t jump into another serious relationship until you feel like the time is right.

For women dealing with a breakup

They say that breaking up is hard to do. It is, but it’s not impossible to heal.

  1. Express your feelings
    Relationship breakups bring up a range of mixed emotions. You might feel isolated, sad, angry, confused or relieved. It helps to find a positive way to express these feelings: write about them in a journal, get creative by drawing, sewing, painting, or crafting.
  2. Reach out to others
    Get together with a close and trusted friend, and share your thoughts and feelings with them. Talking others can help you process your emotions, gain some clarity, and help you feel supported and connected. If you’re getting depressed, seek professional help from your GP or a counsellor, or join a local support group.
  3. Take care of yourself
    Make sure you’re nurturing and nourishing your body. Eat healthy foods that will boost your mood and energy. Take some time out to exercise and move your body. Take up yoga and meditation (such as the ‘Coming to Your Senses’ meditation), or get a massage to help reduce your stress levels.
  4. Do things you enjoy
    Immerse yourself in all the things you love: going to the movies, spending time with friends who make you laugh, going for a coffee at your favourite café or spending time outside in nature. Recognise there’s pleasure to be gained from simple and enjoyable everyday experiences.
  5. Give yourself time
    There is no right timeframe for feeling better after a relationship breakup. It’s a process that needs to unfold in its own way. Just know that the intensity of emotions will subdue as time goes on, and be gentle on yourself along the way.

Sometimes breakups can lead to health issues such as anxiety or depression.

If you’re finding it difficult to cope after a breakup or divorce, and talking with friends or family isn’t helping, then it’s important to seek help from a qualified professional, such as your GP or a counsellor and consider attending a Healing Your Life program at the Quest for Life Centre.

How Quest for Life can help

It takes strength and resilience to work through a divorce or relationship breakup, and Quest for Life can help through our residential programs and online courses. Quest is an NDIS Provider. Substantial grants and subsidies available.

  • Our 5-day residential Healing Your Life program provides you with a wealth of practical skills and strategies for finding a pathway forward in a nurturing, supportive, confidential and safe environment.
  • Our Befriending Anxiety, Beyond Burnout and Healing Sleep online courses provide practical, evidence-based tools and strategies to reduce your symptoms and live a more calm and peaceful life.

Quest for Life knows how to help. Our internal research results show that participants feel better after attending our programs and that this improvement increases over time. On our programs, you’ll be nourished, educated and supported to create an environment for profound healing.

If you are struggling with a breakup or divorce, please reach out to us via the Contact Form below to start a conversation with one of our Program Advisors, who can answer your questions or find the most appropriate program for your needs.

Toolkit

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, Petrea King’s ‘Coming to Your Senses’ meditation can be very helpful. It’s a simple pathway to calm to take wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.

Some of these practices can help you to calm your mind and improve your wellbeing and can be found on our toolkit page:

  • Keys to help you sleep better
  • Meditation practices

You may also find some of Petrea King’s Podcasts useful to listen to.

Resources

  • Wellbeing books Including Your Life Matters by Petrea King – a guidebook for life
  • Meditation CDs including Be Calm, Sleep, Learning to Meditate

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