Knowing how to get over a breakup is no easy task. The end of a relationship can feel like the end of the world. It triggers all-consuming feelings of sadness, rejection, guilt, loneliness and confusion, regardless of whether the breakup was mutual or one sided.

"A breakup is known as the second most traumatic life experience after the death of a loved one and it triggers similar symptoms to grief," explains Sara Davison founder of The Divorce Coach.

It can also have a devastating impact on your body, akin to a physical injury. "Because you’re suddenly starved from your love hormones, dopamine and oxytocin, it’s a huge shock to your body, which is now flooded with the stress hormone, cortisol. This can cause anxiety, nausea, fatigue and weight gain; all symptoms of heartbreak," explains Sara.

Breaking up with someone you once loved (or possibly still do) can be a huge shock. To help you navigate this tricky time our experts share how to get over a breakup, and what you can do to help your body and mind heal.

How long does it take to get over a breakup?

Everyone is different when it comes to breakups. However, a study by the University of California suggests that it takes eleven weeks on average to recover from a separation.

"Anything beyond three months suggests there are other underlying factors that are feeding the sense of grief such as a tendency to depressions and anxiety, or particularly difficult childhood trauma wounds that need to be supported in an appropriate way," explains Eharmony’s relationship expert, Rachael Lloyd, who suggests at this point, it might be worth talking to a therapist or trained professional about your feelings.

how to get over a breakup
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Sara adds that the length of time it takes to get over a breakup very much depends on the person going through it and their ability to manage stress and cope with emotional overwhelm. "The other major factor is the impact of the breakup on your life. For some, their lifestyle may not change very much, whereas for others their entire world may be thrown into disarray."

Understandably, it's common that a breakup with a partner you’ve been with for just a few months can be easier than a partner you’ve been with for several years. When there are other factors, such as a shared home, a mortgage, close relationships with your partner's family, or children involved, it might take longer to heal from the loss.

When should you start moving on after a breakup?

You might have heard the saying, 'the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else', however, Match’s dating expert Hayley Quinn says this is some of the worst dating advice out there.

"I’d advise to not attempt to start dating again until you experience feelings of neutrality towards your ex and feel a sense of self-empowerment. If you're able to hang out with friends, and feel positive about where you are, then these are good indicators you're in the right place to get back out there," Hayley explains. When you do move on, reflect, and learn from any lessons your previous relationship taught you.

how to get over a breakup
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Hilda Burke, psychotherapist, couples counsellor and author of The Phone Addiction Workbook adds: "If we are to learn and grow from our relationships and heartbreak, it’s important to recognise both the good and the not so good in our defunct relationship. In failing to do this, we simply carry our heartbreak like excess baggage to our next relationship."

When you're ready to start dating however, you don’t need to necessarily make it all about finding the perfect partner. "If you can enjoy the journey of dating and have fun with it, it can be a really empowering stepping stone to help boost your confidence and to reaffirm your faith that there are people out there who are kind or emotionally intelligent, depending on your needs," adds Sara.

How to get over a breakup (and speed up the process)

"The best way is to go on a full emotional detox," advises Rachael. "This means agreeing to a no-contact rule with your ex, for at least three months so you can fully get in touch with your feelings and grieve your loss properly.

"Don’t try and friend zone them either as this will delay healing. Lean on family and friends, talk through your feelings; listen to heartbreak recovery podcasts. You have to do the work to ensure you accelerate the process," she adds.

Hayley adds that to help speed up the process you may want to limit activities that keep you stuck in the past and that remind you of your ex, such as listening to sentimental music or visiting favourite restaurants from your time together.

15 ways to get over a breakup

Ready to master your breakup recovery? We asked experts to share their top tips for healing your heart and moving on after the end of a relationship.

Create a breakup support team

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So it’s important that we choose wisely. "Surround yourself with friends and family members who love you and make you feel good about yourself," says Sara. You want to walk away feeling positive and uplifted.

Avoid your ex’s full name

"Names carry a lot of emotion and memories so can trigger sadness," says Sara. Instead of using their full name, shorten your ex’s name to its first initial and make it small caps. "Use this when you are talking or writing. It’s amazing how powerful this tiny technique is!"

how to get over a breakup
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Speak neutrally about your ex

After a breakup it's natural to want to vent and moan about your ex. "After you've done some venting, focus on speaking about your ex neutrally. Tell people it just didn't work out, or that you weren't compatible, rather than running them down," says Hayley. "This isn't about giving them an easy ride; it will actually help you to move on by giving them less of an emotional hold over you."

Try non-dominant handwriting

If you want to try something a little different, Rachael suggests writing down how you’re feeling every day using your non-dominant hand. "It can be messy and intense, it doesn’t matter, but this has been shown to be very effective in tapping into feelings from a more primal area of the brain." Rachael adds that painting your feelings on a large piece of paper can also be extremely cathartic.

Don't avoid the pain

"People adopt many different strategies to avoid their feelings of heartbreak; alcohol/drugs, oblivion via a new lover, or denial that their ex ever meant that much to them, hoping they will convince themselves they never really loved them anyway," explains Hilda. "The latter is the most futile approach and the most damaging as the heart only 'feels', it cannot understand nor be taken in by these words we try to deceive ourselves with."

If we really want to get over heartache we must firstly allow ourselves to feel it. "Engage with the pain, recognise it and acknowledge what we have lost. Only by doing that can we hope to move on," she adds.

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Have an emotional detox and breathe

"Do this by taking time each day to sit down, shut your eyes and just breathe into your body. Feel the physical sensations generated by your broken heart. What colour are they? Where are they? Get curious about them. Embrace them. Remember, they’re just feelings, they won’t hurt you. Then, breathe in gently, and exhale the heartbreak. Repeat as often as you need," Rachael suggests.

Tap it out with EFT

Rachael recommends downloading The Tapping Solution app. "This will teach you how to tap on the meridians that lie on your face, neck and arms and let go of emotional pain. This treatment (referred to as Emotional Freedom Therapy, or EFT) is often used by treatment centres for recovering addicts and people healing from heartbreak and depression. It can be transformative." There’s even research that shows EFT can help with anxiety, depression, phobias and PTSD.

Practice self-care

"Be kind to yourself and make time for treats and pampering," advises Sara. This could be running a warm bath, or allowing yourself an extra hour in bed. Even snuggling up on the sofa with a good book can feel extremely comforting.

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Spin it out

Intense aerobic exercise has been shown to be hugely effective in challenging different types of depression. And, science backs this up, with Harvard Health suggesting exercise is an 'all natural treatment to fight depression'.

"Spinning is one way to pump your heart, whilst enjoying disco tunes with a group of fun-loving people. Failing that, try salsa or street dance. This is time to rediscover your playful inner child and meet new people," says Rachael.

Channel Wonder Woman

It might seem cheesy but it could be the trick that works. Rachael suggests asking yourself, ‘What would Wonder Woman do? What advice would she give me?’

Naturally, WonderWoman (or any hero you choose) will offer a heroic response. "Keep repeating the exercise to help empower you and shift your perspective," says Rachael.

Watch, He’s Just Not That Into You

A classic from way back in 2009, He’s Just Not That Into You is chick-flick that could work wonders in helping get over a breakup, suggests Rachael. "Snuggle under a warm blanket, glass of wine in hand and watch this film with a good friend. The title might sound ominous, but you’ll soon identify with the lead character as she tries to make sense of her complex love life. Another healing option is When Harry Met Sally. Good news; they both have happy endings!"

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Make a list of why it wasn't right

A list of the 10 reasons why your ex wasn’t right for you can actively remind you of all your points of incompatibility, says Hayley. "Don't allow yourself to think you lost out on the 'perfect' person."

Write down what you need in a future partner

Recent research from Match shows the top three signs someone is a 'keeper' include: they really listen to you (47%), you can be yourself in front of them (46%) and they do not want to control you (44%).

"Going through a breakup does not mean you're back at square one in your dating life. Instead, use this new perspective you have to focus on what you really need now. You may be surprised at seeing your priorities written down in front of you, and find it ultimately empowers you to not settle for less," says Hayley.

Go outside and look up

How often do you find yourself looking down at your feet or your phone when you’re walking? It’s time to make a change according to Sara, who recommends looking up to the sky as this can significantly shift your mood. Plus, being outside generally can really help improve mental health. According to charity Mind, spending time outside can help relieve stress, improve confidence and self esteem, and even reduce loneliness.

Focus on You 2.0

"Consider how you want to consolidate your new identity as a single person," says Hayley. Perhaps it’s about putting your mental energy into a bold new career move, or planning a once in a lifetime trip.

"To process a relationship ending, many people consider picking up a new hobby or reconnecting with friends and family. Remind yourself of the all-important relationship with yourself, and enjoy your productive solo time while you’re single."

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