Breaking up can be tough. The end of a relationship can lead to insomnia and even reduced immune function. A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General tested several strategies to help people get over a breakup. They discovered that several classic break-up recovery tricks actually work.
Your Bag Of Break-Up Tricks
24 heartbroken participants between the ages of 20 and 37 were hooked up to an EEG to measure their brain activity. They engaged in four different recovery techniques: negative reappraisal of the ex, reappraisal of love feelings, distraction, or nothing.
In “negative reappraisal,” participants focused on the negative traits of their ex-partner. During “reappraisal of love feelings,” test subjects accepted their remaining affection for their partner positively, and during “distraction” they tried to not think about their ex. Researchers found that what works best is a little bit of everything.
Don’t Just Sit Around!
The last thing you want to do after a rough breakup is sit around and twiddle your thumbs. The participants in the above study had recently exited relationships lasting between two months and eight years. Intimate relationships this long can make a heavy emotional imprint.
Stewing in your sorrows may reinforce negative thought patterns and depress brain activity. You want to stimulate yourself with new experiences. It’s okay to take awhile to get over your ex. It’s not okay to sit around while opportunities for new relationships pass you by.
Make An “I Hate My Ex” Journal
In the study, focusing on the negatives about their exes showed positive EEG results. According to study co-author Sandra Langeslag, director of the Neurocognition of Emotion and Motivation Lab at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, writing down the things you dislike about your ex once a day can help speed your emotional recovery.
No need to go overboard with this strategy, but a little venting can go a long way. Combine it with moving forward and enjoying new experiences, and you’ll be on your way to greener pastures.