Here are 10 smart strategies for healing after a separation or divorce, based on research about overcoming depression after a traumatic event. This is breakup advice for women over 40 who don’t have time to wallow in misery or pain.
In Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want, Martha Beck guides you to find out how you got to where you are now and what you should do next, with clear instructions on tapping into the deep, wordless knowledge you carry in your body and soul. This is especially important when you’re dealing with a breakup, because you’re at the doorway to a whole new life.
In this article, I share ten ways to get over a breakup that are based on research about how traumatic events lead to depression and anxiety. These tips will help you learn how to stop depression and anxiety from overtaking your life. It’s a good research study, especially for women over 40 who need smart breakup advice. I link to the research at the end of this article.
7 Ways to Heal After a Breakup (Not Just for 40 Year Old Women!)
It’s important to remember that not all breakup advice after a relationship ends is equal. What works for a female engineer over 40 may not be effective for a 48 year old mother of six who dedicated her life to raising her children. And, a woman over 40 who lives in New York City may find different breakup advice helpful than a woman who lives on Bowen Island, BC, Canada.
Know yourself – especially if you’re a woman over 40
How do you want to spend the next 40 years of your life? You’re approaching midlife, and time is going faster than ever before. Don’t waste your valuable energy and time feeling bitter, heartbroken, or anxious about a breakup. Instead, be mindful that as a woman over 40, you are in control. You have what it takes to recreate your life any way you want!
With that in mind, here are three strategies for healing a broken heart…
Replace rumination with “focused distraction”
Rumination is when you keep thinking the same depressing, negative thoughts over and over. You literally change your brain when you keep thinking the same things – you build a groove in your brain, and you can’t dig your way out. Instead of ruminating, distract yourself with focused thoughts.
Try thought stopping
I use this – thought stopping – when I want to keep gnawing on my thoughts that I’m not making enough money blogging, not good enough at playing the flute, or not loving enough to my friends, family, and neighbors. When those negative, depressing, anxiety-provoking thoughts creep in, I immerse myself in the peace of God. Prayer is an effective emotional way for me to stop ruminating, and it’s valuable breakup advice for women over 40 who are spiritual.
If spirituality isn’t your thing, learn other practical, psychological ways to stop negative thoughts. Read my article on how to stop thinking about your ex for more tips on focused distraction.
Learn about adaptive coping strategies
Eating, drinking, drugging, not exercising, and not connecting with people who fill you with energy and strength are NOT adaptive coping strategies for women over 40. How did you successfully cope with a traumatic event in the past? If you found friendship or connection with others healing, then do it again. If you were inspired and motivated by joining a soccer team, Zumba class, or yoga retreat, then do it again! You know what works for you – and if you don’t know how you heal, then it’s time to learn. You’re a strong, smart, successful woman over 40 – and I suspect you are the source of your own best breakup advice.
Anticipate stressful episodes or anxiety-provoking circumstances
Do you fall to pieces every time your ex picks the kids up, or you see a Facebook update? Then you need to protect yourself from those stressful events. How? You tell me. What are two positive ways to cope after your ex leaves the house with your kids? If you have no idea, put yourself in the shoes of the smartest woman over 40 you know. What breakup advice would she give?
In How to Cope With Anxiety After a Breakup, Iyanla Vanzant says, “When you hit a wall, you must not claw at it. Back up. Take a look around. Let go of your needs and desires, and surrender.”
Surrender is a bad word to some of us. But, as a woman over 40, I am learning the freedom and beauty of simple surrender. My breakup advice when it comes to surrender is this: think about the biggest three adjustments you’ve had to make now that you’re single. Is it possible to stop fighting those adjustments, and instead start flowing with them? Surrender to the breakup as if you’d chosen it. Because in some ways, you have.
Pay special attention to your sleep habits
It’s normal for people to experience trouble sleeping after a breakup or divorce. However, sleep problems that last too long can lead to potentially harmful increases in blood pressure. Research from the University of Arizona shows that poor sleep quality might be one of the reasons divorce is linked to negative health effects. If you still aren’t sleeping well a few months after the breakup, you’d benefit from talking to a doctor. What I find works is a fan in the summer months, or a white noise machine for a peaceful sleep.
Stop the self-blame – an important bit of advice for after a breakup
Blaming yourself for the end of the relationship is toxic and pointless. Rather, focus on accepting yourself, your actions, your beliefs, values, decisions, and lifestyle. You aren’t wrong, bad, dumb, or unlovable. You are a beautiful, unique, creative, lovable woman who has years of valuable life experience behind her. You didn’t do anything wrong, and you deserve to be loved for who you are.
Give yourself a makeover
I don’t mean a physical makeover, unless of course you know this is the best way for you to move on after a breakup. In 9 Makeover Ideas for After a Breakup, I share a variety of ways to recreate life after breaking up with someone you love. I’m particularly fond of that article because there are so many ways to make over your life: your physical home, job, spiritual self, exercise, food, hair, friends, financial, education….there are dozens of possible ways to start fresh after a relationship ends. The best breakup advice takes every aspect of a woman over 40 into account. I can’t do that in an article – I’d need to write a book!
Accept your lack of control
Sometimes the best breakup advice is simple acceptance. In my article on how to let go of someone you love, I encourage us to accept that we can’t control many things in our lives. Even if you’re a smart woman over 40, you can’t control who loves you, who leaves you, who helps you, who betrays you. You can’t control your neighbourhood, the traffic, the weather, or the economy. Of all the things you want to change in your life, remember that you can’t change people. You can sometimes change circumstances, and you can change your attitude and response to events and people…but you can’t change your husband, children, coworkers, neighbours, or family members.
How did you cope with a breakup in the past – and what advice would you give other women? Try writing down three tips for women over 40, and see what bubbles to the surface.
I can’t offer advice, but you might feel better if you share your experience.
Source of the research on coping with traumatic life events: Psychological Processes Mediate the Impact of Familial Risk, Social Circumstances and Life Events on Mental Health on PLOS.org. My breakup advice for women over 40 is a simplified version of that very scientific, impressive research study.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.