If you're recently single after a difficult breakup, you know that it can be hard to think about anything else. You may stare at your phone waiting for a text, have trouble sleeping as you try to figure out what went wrong or change your routine to avoid an awkward encounter with your ex. If this sounds familiar, we're here to help with things you can do post-breakup to keep your mind on your new single life – not your former relationship.
1. Make some cash
Why not use some of your newfound free time to make some pocket money? The great thing about being a student is that it's possible to find a job on campus with flexible hours. Check your school career center's website to see if anyone on campus is hiring, or try working at a restaurant near campus. They're happy to have the help, and working will keep you busy and give you some extra cash for the weekend.
"I didn't realize how much time I spent with my boyfriend until we broke up," says Hannah, a junior at the University of Miami. "I suddenly had so much free time that I didn't know what to do with, so I got a job answering phones on campus."
Hannah also ended up meeting some of her best friends in addition to making extra money. "I never would have met these amazing people if that breakup—which seemed so unbearable at the time—hadn't happened,” she says.
2. Work out
Working out is a great way to stay fit year-round. It’s also proven to make you happier! Rather than lying around analyzing the last conversation between you and your former SO, go for a run or lift some weights.
"When I'm upset, I don't really want to move or do much of anything, and [I] feel really tired," says Willa, a sophomore at Tufts University. After a breakup, Willa decided to hit the gym with her roommates to get out of her slump and found that she had a new favorite hobby.
Like this collegiette, when you're going through a hard time like a breakup, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get moving. To solve this, ask a friend to be your workout buddy, or pay for a class ahead of time to motivate you to go.
To make your workout even more fun, try a fitness app to switch up your routine!
3. Spend more time with your friends
While everyone needs some alone time, surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good will distract you from your breakup, which will help you in the long run. Going out with your girls is always fun, but spend time with them during the day, too! Take a drive to the town closest to your campus, go to the mall or do something else that you wouldn't normally do. Put a positive spin on this breakup by using it to create great new memories with your girls that you may not have been able to make before.
"When me and my boyfriend broke up, I was devastated," says Ariana, a senior at Lehigh University. "I stayed in bed for a week and I couldn't sleep, so it was really all I thought about. My best friend surprised me by taking me bowling. I hadn't done that since I was a little kid, and it was so much fun. We go once a month now."
If you want to get over a breakup, “you want to surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally,” says Dr. Wendy Walsh, relationship expert and host of Investigation Discovery’s Happily Never After. “These would be long-term, historic friends; sisters; other close friends—people who will remind you how lovable you are.”
4. Embark on an adventure
Maybe you didn’t take advantage of travel opportunities in the past because you didn’t want to leave your relationship behind. Being newly single is a great time to see new sights, eat new food and meet new people.
Take a look at your school's study abroad opportunities. Going to a foreign place while still having the comfort of being with college students will give you an unforgettable experience that will help you leave your breakup behind.
“I went abroad for my school’s winter session and coincidentally had been broken up with three weeks before I left,” says Jamie, a junior at the University of Delaware. “Spending time in an incredible new country with no one to text constantly at home or check in with really helped me move on and fully experience the country I was in.”
If getting on a plane doesn’t fit into your plan, going on a mini vacation or even a day trip with your besties can be the perfect way to take your mind off of the breakup. Going to a new place for a few hours, days or weeks will allow you to stay busy and constantly interact with new people.
5. Try a new hobby
What’s more exciting than accomplishing a new goal? Redirect your passion into something new and exciting. The great thing about starting a new hobby is that it's totally on your schedule and can be as big or small as you want it to be. By choosing a new hobby to take up, it's all about you: Doing it your way on your time.
When starting something new, having a short- or long-term goal to go with it will make you more determined to stick with it and accomplish that goal. For example, if you want to go abroad to Argentina for a semester, doing something such as learning Spanish or taking tango dance classes is something that will distract you in the moment and help you long-term as well. You’ll not only feel accomplished after you conquer a goal, but you’ll likely end up feeling more confident in general, too.
Consider doing something physical, like starting to run on a regular basis. For collegiettes who aren't exactly in marathon shape, try easing into it with the Couch to 5K program. If you want an athletic hobby that’ll also allow you to meet new people, see what intramural sports teams are on your campus. If athletics aren't your thing, try becoming a craft queen and tackle some DIY projects.
Still lost on where to start when it comes to finding a new hobby? Try keeping a daily journal. Along with this being a hobby in itself, looking back on your best and worst moments of the day can help you figure out what you like and want to do more of.
6. Treat yourself to a makeover
The end of a romantic relationship means the beginning of new chapter in your life. Take advantage of this time by taking a risk and making a change that you've always wanted to make. Whether that means redecorating your room, dyeing your hair or adding some new pieces to your wardrobe, a positive change can help you feel good about moving forward.
“People change their external self or external environment as a way to signal that they’re changing internally,” Dr. Walsh says. She adds that while this can be a useful coping strategy, you’ll make the physical change when you’re beginning to change internally.
Dr. Walsh adds that changing your external environment is a way to get rid of reminders that will trigger memories of your relationship. “If you had a certain cuddly duvet that you were always in with him, change it out,” she says. Redecorating your room is not only a way to cleanse away some of the unwanted reminders of your relationship, but also a way to give yourself a fun project to keep your mind off of the breakup as well.
7. Study hard
After all of those years of our parents nagging us to crack down on the books, they may have been right. Going above and beyond in the classroom will help you the long run (hello, internships) and give you a productive way to think about other things besides your split. Spend the hour between classes that you'd normally spend with your ex in your professor's office hours or preparing for an exam that may be a few weeks away.
“Being single allowed me to really dedicate myself to my friends and my classes,” says Rachel, a sophomore at the University of Maryland. “It was not only a great way to stay busy, but my GPA went up after it had gone down a little bit the previous semester.”
Spending a couple extra hours per week doing some reading or practice problems will get you ahead in many ways and also keep your mind on your classes instead of the breakup.
8. Share the love with your community
Doing some community service can make someone else’s day better and will put you in a better mood. Walsh says that altruism is one of three things proven to boost happiness (along with exercise and surrounding yourself with good people).
One of the best parts about community service is that it benefits both you and the cause you’re helping. If you’re super busy, try dropping off some canned food or old clothes at a shelter near campus. If you’re new to volunteering and don’t know where to start, try VolunteerMatch, an organization that helps match you with a cause you’re interested in. Who knows, you may discover a new passion!
Staying busy with any of these activities is a great way to pull yourself out of that post-split slump. No matter what your interests are, find something that you love to do and redirect your energy towards it. It will make you happier and help you to move on.