7.5 Editor's Pick
April 10, 2020

How the heck do we Deal with a Break Up During a Pandemic?

Relephant read: Elephant’s Continually updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


It feels unthinkable, right? Everything around us seems to be crumbling, falling apart.

My love, we were supposed to be the glue.

We were supposed to be that one steady thing.

We were supposed to support each other no matter what—to be that soft place to land.

But life isn’t a fairy-tale, and neither is love. When the stress of the Coronavirus pandemic creeps in, we freak out. Our minds are blown open. We might start to see our relationships in a whole new light.

When our day-to-day reality is shaken like this, we might think more deeply about those bottom-line things. The things that fundamentally matter to us: our values, desires, and deal-breakers. How we want to live.

And in the craziness of it all—a shining moment of clarity:

That’s what happened to us, you and I.

We didn’t band together, instead, like the world around us—we fell apart.

Yet, we are still strong on our own. The road ahead for each of us will be rugged, it will be tough—and it all still feels uncertain.

So yes, break ups happen in the time of COVID-19, of course they do. As my own relationship is rockier than ever and seems to be unraveling faster than I can type, it made me realize what a damn difficult time this to go through a split. And yet, if tension was brewing before, it’s likely bubbled over by now.

Couples are all cooped up at home—and when we see illness and death around us, it brings a sharp, laser-like focus on what really matters to us and what we want out of life. It is a damn sobering time, to say the least.

Unraveling seems to be a theme right now in so many ways—in ways that I don’t want to make pretty with poetry. But it seems that this pandemic is a make-it-or-break-it time for many relationships.

Some couples are stepping up and getting closer than ever—and some aren’t. Some can’t.

This is uncharted territory in a million ways. Most of us are already extremely stressed out, dealing with sick loved ones, or becoming sick ourselves—so it can feel like we don’t even know how to cope. We’re already maxed out. Just watching the news feels exhausting. Our nervous systems are fried. We can’t reach out to our dear ones in ways we normally would. This can all feel really hard, scary, lonely, and overwhelming. How the heck do we deal with a break up right now?

Well, we must cope, and so we will. Here’s some sweet tips as your heart mends during this strange time:

1. Keep a regular routine.

Sounds boring, sounds basic—but it’s so helpful! Eating, sleeping, waking, bathing, working, and exercising at the same (or similar) times each day helps us create inner stability in a time when everything seems shaky. I know, you might be thinking that this feels downright impossible. But trust me, it is worth stumbling out of bed before 9 a.m. and gettin’ going. It can soothe our frayed nerves and aching hearts, creating a sense of structure and groundedness amidst those post-break up roller-coaster moods.

Think of it like a trusty container to give shape to your days. My ever-wise and always awesome acupuncturist also recently told me that having a regular routine can build up our earth element. So, here’s to that earthy stability. Here’s to some sturdy ground beneath our feet as we heal.

2. Self-care and other care.

I’m just going to say it: self-massage is awesome. Giving ourselves foot rubs, neck rubs, and hand massages—why have I not been doing this forever? Not only is it calming, but it can also release those feel-good hormones, like oxytocin that are produced when we experience touch from others. So when we’re in touch-withdrawal after a break-up and can’t see a friend to get a desperately needed hug, this can go a very, very long way.

And even though we might be feeling rotten and miserable at times, why not reach out to help others? We don’t need to have a perfectly full metaphorical cup—or be happy and perfect to give. Nope. Sometimes, giving is the very act that fills us up. I’m often surprised at how this not only helps the other person in need, but also gives me a sense of profound meaning and joy. I love feeling that delicious shimmer of connection. And of course, reach out to your dear ones for support, too, with phone chats, virtual happy hours, and tea times—whatever you need to nourish that beautiful heart of yours.

3. Don’t try to figure it all out right now.

Really, it’s not a good idea to analyze what went wrong or why—or if it’s because of those frustrating patterns that started in your childhood. Normally, I’m all for diving right in—and going deep—but I feel cautious about this approach right now, amidst the pandemic. Our nervous systems are already on high alert; our stress levels are through the roof. The world can feel really scary. Going to the grocery store has taken on a whole new meaning. So let’s go for a practical approach. Because sometimes, it is just about getting through it. It’s about tiptoeing into the depths when you’re ready—or staying softly on the surface when you know that’s what you have to do.

Distractions aren’t terrible. I know, they’re not necessarily mindful or excellent, but we don’t need to be the best versions of ourselves right now. We don’t need to thrive or sparkle like a firework. We need to be tender with our tenderness. We need to take care of ourselves, as best as we can.

4. One day/hour/minute at a time.

Apparently thoughts like “how will I ever get through the next two months alone?” are not helpful. Surprising, huh? Look, I know it feels rough, especially if we are not used to spending a lot of time alone, and the pandemic can crank up those feeling of loneliness to an all-time high.

I’m a hard-core introvert—and even I am over all this alone time. But we’ve gotta help ourselves out here. In containing our thoughts through small pockets of time, we can reduce the onslaught of overwhelm. Just get through this moment. This hour. This day. Yes, that is so enough right now.

5. Create a nature practice.

The outdoors here in North Carolina have been especially lush this spring. Nature is doing her thing, as vibrant and gorgeous as ever, in the midst of the pain and panic. Spending a bit of time outdoors—even just for a quick walk—can help to get us out of our heads.

On my stroll this morning, I felt awe at seeing flowers blooming on treetops and through cracks in the sidewalks. I couldn’t believe the sensual plushness of the grape-like wisteria, weaving subtle sweetness into the air. It gives me hope. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty in the air right now, but there is still beauty. The birds are still singing their little hearts out. The grass is so green. There is something incredible about that.

6. Find solace in your pets.

Enough said! Our pets can be therapeutic, silly, snuggly, and adorable.

These aren’t mind-blowing tips, but they aren’t supposed to be. When we’re grieving in an already-difficult-as-hell time, it is best to keep it simple. So whip out those coping skills, I know you’ve got ‘em! And I hope you’ll add these to your bag.

Because this sort of self-care is a powerful act. It is to value ourselves, when things get really sh*tty. It is to value our hearts and bodies and minds.

It is to value our lives, in the toughest of times.

Because we are stubbornly resilient.

So dear reader out there—I wish you sweetness and health. I know it’s hard right now.

I wish you many moments of showing up for yourself and others.


For resources, support & help:

Help with basics, like food, rent, money
Getting help & helping others
Get therapy from home
Flood your body with love hormones

Relephant reads:
30 Things to Do while Quarantined (other than Washing your Hands & Watching “Tiger King”).
Who will we be “After” COVID-19?
When Isolation is the Cure & the Source of our Pain & Dysfunction.
Stop Romanticizing Lockdown—It’s a Mental Health Crisis in the Making.
Don’t make Yourself a Project: Why the Pandemic isn’t the time for Self-Improvement.

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