6 Rules for Getting Over a Breakup the Healthy Way

If you've ever been tempted to take a sick day post-breakup, you're not alone. A whopping 76 percent of people say that being lovesick after a breakup is understated and that it can lead to major emotional and physical problems, according to a recent survey from the U.K. matchmaking service EliteSingles.com. Hey, anyone who's been a sobbing mess with zero appetite after a split can totally vouch for this. 

There's a reason you feel like you got hit by a metaphorical truck after a split. "When you think about all of the stuff that feels good when you fall in love, you actually experience all those same symptoms when you break up—the only difference is they feel bad," says relationship expert Michele O'Mara, Ph.D., author of Just Ask! 1,000 Questions to Grow Your Relationship. Feeling like you can't eat, can't sleep, and can't stop thinking about the person is awesome when you're on a love high, but those same symptoms suck after you call it quits. And O'Mara says these feelings are all based in biology. Your mind and body actually go through chemical and hormonal changes after a breakup. Before you drown your sorrows in ice cream, read O'Mara's tips for getting over it in a healthy way: 

Cut Off Contact 
It probably seems impossible, but it's the only real fix O'Mara swears by. Brain scans, blood tests, and other research all show that when you see or talk to someone you love, your body reacts in a way that fuels your desire for them, says O'Mara. "You've craving that person." So after you tie up the inevitable loose ends, she suggests a 30- to 90-day break from all contact with your ex.  
Replace Social Media with IRL Hangouts 
No matter how hard you try to tweak your notifications, Facebook probably won't be your friend post-breakup. All those shared connections and constant updates can make it harder to heal. "I recommend a hiatus from Facebook, but it's complicated because then there's a social isolation," says O'Mara. The fix: Push yourself to go out and meet up with friends, even when you're not really in the mood. 

MORE: Katy Perry's Amazing Post-Divorce Relationship Advice  

Vent Wisely 
Rehashing what went wrong with your best friend over a bottle of wine can be therapeutic, but it shouldn't be a repeat occurrence. "Conversation with friends needs to have a purpose," says O'Mara. So feel free to talk about how you're processing things and how you can move forward, but stay away from topics like what your ex is up to now or everything he ever did wrong. And cast a wide net of support so you aren't wearing one friend down, says O'Mara. 

Watch Out for Anxiety 
"One thing that everybody going through a breakup has in common is that 'what's next?' feeling," says O'Mara. "It's a very anxiety-filled experience." You can't exactly nix anxiety altogether, so focus instead on how to deal with it. When you get an anxious thought, replace it with a better but believable one, says O'Mara. So when you start to think, "I'm going to be alone forever!" replace that with something like, "This is going to take a long time to get over, but I'm going to bounce back."  

MORE: How to NOT Gain Weight After a Breakup 

Reclaim Some of Your Single Habits
Breaking up is a great time to reclaim something you let go during the course of your relationship, says O'Mara. Maybe you used to run every morning but got into the habit of staying in bed with your S.O. recently. Or maybe you loved to take dance classes, but your partner was never up for it. Now is the time to do any of this—or all of this—to get back in touch with yourself. 

Reconsider Rebounding 
There is no perfect time to start dating again post-split, but the key is to wait until you're back to functioning at the top of your game, says O'Mara. Why? Most people rebound before they're truly back to themselves, but as they heal and grow, their new relationship doesn't usually change with them. So forget the whole six-month rule, and focus on taking care of yourself instead.  

MORE: The 4 Biggest Breakup Mistakes

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