Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC
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Going through a romantic breakup is a major life event; there’s no getting around it. If you were dating casually, that’s a different situation; moving on is easier. But, if you invested a great deal of emotion and energy into the relationship, you owe it to yourself to allow plenty of space for healing and learning from the experience.
Your self-confidence may have taken a dive during the separation process. Rest assured: You’re not alone. Fortunately, there are constructive, life-affirming things you can do to address this common issue. Are you wondering how to boost your self-esteem after your breakup? Read on for a rundown of effective strategies.
1. Establish Healthy Boundaries
Establishing and maintaining healthy interpersonal boundaries is imperative during and after a breakup. Boundaries have to do with rules and limits you set for yourself within relationships. Keep in mind that you can’t control anyone else’s attitudes or behaviors, but it’s your responsibility to decide on your own standards for communication and engagement. This may mean changing your social media settings, choosing who you’ll confide in, and other common sense constraints. Healthy boundaries help you feel safe and free.
2. Let Yourself Grieve
The way you grieve will depend on the nature of your former relationship. One size doesn’t fit all in terms of length and intensity. Yes, it’s helpful to get some alone time to grieve, but don’t discount the benefit of grieving in the presence of someone who can support you and give you perspective. You might choose to journal, also. Journaling is a positive way to both express and get some distance from intense feelings.
3. Call On Your Support System
After a breakup, it’s often a temptation to isolate. Don’t give in! Identify healthy family members and friends you can call on to talk to. Also, being with others can be a welcome source of fun and distraction. If you benefit from support groups, now is the time to call on one. Has it been a while since you’ve checked in to your book club or spiritual gathering? Get back into it.
4. Get Counseling if You Need It
If you find yourself needing the support that only a professional can provide, don’t hesitate to book a few sessions. The objective, compassionate presence of a mental health professional will provide space for you to vent, gain new coping skills, and learn from your experience.
5. Bring Joyful Things Into Your Life
You are always entitled to joy — especially after a breakup! Pursue people, places, and things that bring you joy and a sense of belonging. You might be considering what your next move should be as you reach out for new social contacts. It’s important to be discerning as you consider getting back into the dating pool. Not sure where to look? Do a search using terms such as matchmakers to find helpful resources and assistance.
6. Eat Delicious, Nutritious Foods
Focusing on a whole foods-based, nutrient-dense diet will help boost your resilience and keep you feeling as good as possible through this life transition. It may be tempting to eat a lot of sugar, but for the sake of your mood and overall health, it’s better to keep your intake low. Eating healthy foods should be pleasurable; stay with dishes and snacks you enjoy. Keep it simple. Be sure to eat a variety of proteins, vegetables, beneficial fats, and fruit in moderation. Add your favorite spices to make your experience even more nutritious and enjoyable.
Hydration is always important. It’s especially crucial to focus on it now. Carry an attractive water bottle that you enjoy drinking out of. Add a dash of lemon or another flavoring so you’ll drink more. Aim for about half your body weight in ounces; check with a trusted health professional for specific recommendations.
7. Get Plenty of Rest
Sleep is the key way that your body restores and resets itself. It helps you regulate emotions and integrate experiences. If you get plenty of sleep and restorative rest, you’ll be better able to move through the emotions that a breakup brings and refresh yourself for the future. Are you having challenges getting to and staying asleep? Take a look at your sleep routine. Give yourself plenty of time to wind down before bedtime, limiting screen use and stimulating activities. Keep your bedroom cool, and make your bed as comfortable and soothing as possible. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at a consistent time to get your sleep cycle on track.
8. Exercise Wisely
Exercise is not only an effective way to maintain top physical condition and release pent-up energy, but is also a great mood booster. Do it wisely; make sure you’re medically cleared and don’t overdo it. Take into account your current age, stage of life, and fitness level. Find types of exercise that you enjoy; what works for someone else may not work for you. Include strength, cardiovascular, flexibility, and agility training. Although it may feel as if you’re progressing slowly at first, you’ll feel a gradual ramping up of energy and optimism.
8. Dive Into Hobbies
Expand your definition of hobbies. A hobby is anything constructive that you do in your downtime for free. Yes, it may involve crafting or building things, but it might be something else entirely. Do you love to dance? Make time for it. Does music bring you joy? Go out to hear live music or take up an instrument on your own. Are you interested in rare objects and arcane things? Go for it. The most important thing is that you engage in activities that are fun and put you in a “flow” state. It’s a powerful way to establish your individual identity and meet like-minded people.
9. Allow Yourself To Play
Working and edifying yourself are good things. So is reveling in unstructured downtime. Allow yourself to let go of responsibilities for at least a few hours every week and be playful… or unproductive. Give your mind and emotions a rest from goal-oriented thinking. You’ll return to everyday life with renewed energy. Play is important at any age, and you might have neglected it previously. Let yourself be spontaneous again.
10. Savor Your Work
If you enjoy your work, it can be a haven after a breakup. Take advantage of the structure, service, and social connections you make at work. Savor it. Focusing on the job can be a welcome reprieve from thinking about your past relationship. Immerse yourself fully in serving others — and when you leave work, pat yourself on the back and let it go until you return.
11. Meet New People
When you find yourself in groups, get outside your comfort zone a bit. Introduce yourself to new people sincerely, ask them questions, and enjoy the process of getting to know them. Enjoy the process of expanding your social circle without an agenda. It’s a great way to meet people organically.
12. Go To New Places
Chances are, you established a certain routine while in your previous relationship. Change it up. Walk and drive (safe!) unfamiliar routes to reach your destinations. Explore areas close by or far away. Go where you haven’t been before. You’ll expand your horizons and make memories that point you toward your new life.
13. Get a Glow-Up
Getting a glow has a lot to do with focusing on self-care. The particulars are up to you. Do what feels right; it’s your time to nurture yourself. It may be a salon visit, a spa weekend, or a wardrobe overhaul. Or, you may prefer to binge on YouTube makeup skincare and makeup tutorials for fresh ideas. If you’re a guy, you might decide to grow a beard. Have fun in the process — it shouldn’t feel like too much work. The aim is to build your confidence and see yourself in a new way.
14. Get Outside
If you’ve been spending a lot of time alone indoors, change your pattern and get outside. Being in nature is a potent way to enlarge your perspective, refresh your mind, and move your body healthily and functionally. Beautiful natural settings have long been associated with healing and restoration. When you go, be sure to pack plenty of snacks and water, and maybe a good book or journal. Grab a friend for double the fun, or find a way to maintain contact with people on your journey. Do you need to stay close to your home? Even walking around the block for a few minutes can lift your mood.
15. Get In Touch With Your Spirituality
Meditation, prayer, and mindful activities such as yoga are time-honored ways to ground yourself and feel more steady and calm. It’s a good idea to seek out a mentor if you’re starting a new practice, and choose spiritual pursuits in line with your values and goals.
Improving your self-esteem after a breakup requires careful attention to yourself and your needs. Keep these tips in mind as you go through the healing process.
Website Author and Your Guide
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.