Time Doesn’t Heal: 10 Ways to Heal After The Death of a Relationship

Can someone please tell the writers at Hallmark Cards that time (no matter how long) doesn’t heal a broken heart after you’ve lost someone? While you’re at it, please tell the meta engineers to exclude those not present in our lives from showing up on our Facebook memories because we can’t “celebrate our friendship.” Sympathy cards flooded our mailbox when Dad passed away. Many cards provided comfort while including a theme that “time heals,” so I looked forward to healing! Months passed, and every social media reminder of my dad triggered my emotions, and I felt heartbroken all over again. I was frustrated. Why wasn’t I healing? I took comfort in speaking with other friends who also lost a loved one, and they had the same advice – “Time doesn’t heal. You get used to living a life without them.” What they said made sense to me, and it brought up memories of going through a breakup but with a different layer of pain.

Grief is Inevitable with Breakups and Losing a Loved One

The death of any meaningful relationship, whether it’s a breakup or the loss of a loved one, can trigger a “fight or flight” response and release stress hormones throughout the body. This stress can manifest as sickness, low energy, a range of emotions, mood changes, and lack of motivation. The common method to mend a broken heart is to embrace the emotions and allow yourself to grieve. It is okay to cry, feel heartache, and mourn the loss. Bottling up emotions or pretending to be okay will only prolong the healing process. 

How to Heal a Broken Heart 

Before you can heal, you have to know the stages of grief. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  However, it’s essential to recognize that grief isn’t a straight path; it doesn’t go in order because it comes in waves. Everyone grieves differently.  Grief puts our brains into “stress mode,” so we must focus on things promoting creativity.

Feel Better Faster With Dopamine

Accomplishing tasks helps raise dopamine in the brain. Dopamine, our “feel-good” hormone, is a chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that works in areas of the brain to give you feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. I didn’t know it then, but I was doing something healthy for my brain when I poured myself into an e-commerce project a month after Dad passed away. I set some S.M.A.R.T. goals, and I made some strides! I found a manufacturer for my design, created a product that aligned with my vision, and was surprised that people were buying my product. I started feeling good about myself.

Here Are 10 Ways to Increase Dopamine to Help Mend a Broken Heart

1. Sweat Out the Sadness

When you’re ready, start moving. I know! The last thing you want to do is put on those sneakers and break a sweat, but trust me. Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine, giving you an instant mood lift. Whether it’s a jog, a dance party, or a kickboxing class, get that body moving and let the natural high take over.

2. Indulge in Comfort Food (the Smart Way)

I’m not saying drown your sorrows in a tub of ice cream, but treating yourself to some dopamine-boosting foods is on the table. Dark chocolate, nuts, and bananas contain nutrients that support dopamine production. So, snack smart and savor those mood-boosting bites – your taste buds and brain will thank you.

3. Go Outside!

Spending time outdoors and soaking up vitamin D can work wonders for your mood and mental health! Natural sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm and boosts dopamine production. Take a stroll, find a cozy spot in the park, and bask in the warm embrace of sunshine. It’s like a natural mood makeover. And remember to wear sunblock and sunglasses.

4. Immerse Yourself in Inspiration

OK, I don’t know about you, but surrounding myself with inspiration always boosts my mood. I’ll watch a good underdog movie, read a book about triumph, listen to songs about winning at life, or remind myself I’ll be okay through motivational quotes.

5. Connect with Your Crew

Now’s the time to lean on your family. Surround yourself with friends who lift you, make you laugh, and are ready to indulge in some quality hangout time. Social interactions release oxytocin and dopamine, so whether it’s a movie night, a game evening, or just grabbing coffee, cherish the company of your awesome friends.

6. Set Mini Milestones

Break down your healing into small, achievable goals. Whether it’s redecorating your space, trying out a new hobby, or conquering a personal challenge, these mini milestones give you a sense of accomplishment. Each small win sends a little dopamine party to your brain, making you feel like yourself again.

7. Mindfulness and Chill

Take a breather and embrace the art of mindfulness. Find a quiet space, focus on your breath, and release stress. Mindfulness practices like meditation and prayer will fill your heart with hope and gratitude. It’s like a mental spa day – soothing and rejuvenating.

8. Dive into Something New

Significant changes are a chance for reinvention. Months after Dad died, I colored my hair purple. And I’ve witnessed this with other people! I’ve seen brunettes become blonde. Those with long hair chop it all up! So, what’s that one thing you’ve always wanted to try? Whether getting a perm, a Brazilian blowout, or buying a new outfit, novelty stimulates dopamine production. 

9. Get A Pet

My mom always loved dogs, so I adopted a Yorkie mix from the local humane society, Basil. He moved in 3 weeks after Dad passed away, and instead of seeing my mom sulking, I saw her put her focus and love into Basil. It motivated her to go on walks and be a little more active. And yes, playing with a dog or cat can elevate serotonin and dopamine levels. It’s the best decision I ever made for my family. Now Basil is in line to inherit everything, and I’m chopped liver. 

10. Have Faith

Placing your hope in God and believing that He will rescue you can help silence the fears and uncertainty that come with loss. I grew up in a religious family, so it was second nature for us to turn to God through prayer. I admit that I had a hard time being thankful when Dad passed, so I had a different prayer: “I’m not sure what the new year is going to be like, but I’m going to be thankful in advance for all the ways we’ll get over this grief.” I know doing anything after such a major life change is challenging. When we lost my dad, my sister couldn’t get out of bed for a week while I had already gone back to work. I learned that everyone’s healing process is unique, and the more I started getting back into my routine working on projects, the more I began to feel better.  I’ve tried all ten things on this list (not consistently), and it has been a lifesaver because these feel-good hormones remind me that I’ll be okay even if Facebook memories pull up an old memory of Dad and me. If you’re looking for ways to feel better, these simple (and affordable) methods could help you feel better sooner rather than later.