The most important things we forget about during the aftermath of a narcissistic break-up is who we are, what we want and what we deserve. In a nutshell, we forget to take care of ourselves.
This is where the art of self-care comes in.
Self-care means actively choosing behaviors to balance (and not bury) the effects of the stresses that this relationship has caused you.
Self-care is a soothing and productive way to ease yourself out of the shackles of the relationship and truly find yourself again. The broken hearted and abused can end up becoming a much better version of themselves than they ever thought possible when they chose to learn some self-care techniques – this can be true for you, too. It was certainly true for me, and I was at a very, very low ebb after my relationship ended.
I recall saying to a friend at the time of the split, “I would just be happy to feel nothing, as long as I don’t feel like this anymore”. I look back and I’m astounded by the grit and determination that can be derived from such pain and heartache. I’m even more astounded by the resolve of our emotions as humans – we’re capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for, and we’re certainly capable of more than our narcissistic partners would ever tell us we are.
I’m proud of myself for really turning my ship around. You can look forward to your proud moments, too; there will be a few, but none as exhilarating as the time you finally look back on your emotional roller coaster and see just how well you’re doing now.
With some self-care and learning to be easy on yourself, you will be taking steps towards becoming the person you deserve to be.
Self-care isn’t as big or as daunting as it may initially sound; in fact, when you’re practicing self-care, it may not feel like you’re doing much at all. Some days self-care may feel like a breeze, other days the smallest act of taking care of yourself will seem too difficult to comprehend.
I categorize each self-care technique under three umbrellas; mind, body and soul.
Respecting your mind is an important part of being. Unfortunately, it’s something most people tend to forget to focus on, let alone those who are experiencing the emotional carnage of the demise of a narcissistic relationship. Here are some techniques to help you recharge your mind – give a few of these ago this week, and you’ll subconsciously be giving your mind a bit of TLC.
#1 – Disconnect for an hour: Put your phone on airplane mode, unplug your telephone, shut down your laptop … completely let your mind unwind. Try listening to the birds outside, the rain on the windows, the sirens or traffic outside. Go where your mind takes you.
#2 – Switch up your route to work: Even if it takes you a little longer to get there, or you need to set off a little earlier. This little technique is a subconscious way to keep your mind healthy. The neural pathways in your brain will have a good response to this unusual change in routine.
#3 – Be selfish: Make this one a priority – do one thing a day (at least) just for you, because it makes you happy.
#4 – Declutter: It could be your wardrobe, your ex’s things, your office table … it’s amazing what a physical declutter can do for your mind. I decluttered my spare room and turned it into a neat little office space and it became a passion project as well as much needed productive distraction.
#5 – Remove yourself from your comfort zone: Even if it’s striking up a conversation at the office with someone you’ve never chatted to or partaking in a meeting – get your mind out of its comfort zone! You’ll thank yourself later.
#6- Social media weed: Anything or anyone negative within your social media feeds, weed them out. It will only reinforce your mind that it needs to continue with its negative thought patterns. If you don’t want to delete someone, you can ‘mute’ them for now.
#7 – People watch: It’s amazing the inspiration you give your mind simply by sitting at a coffee shop and watching the world around you. Even if you are hesitant to go to a coffee shop alone, do it (see #5 about getting out of your comfort zone).
#1 – Deep breaths: Inhale for six seconds, exhale for seven. Repeat this three times. Oxygenating your body really can take the edge of stress, anxiety and panic.
#2 – Drink herbal / green teas: Not only are green and herbal teas a great way to flush toxins out of your body, you can inhale their upbeat scents. I enjoy peppermint tea and combining it with some light reading.
#3 – Change up your food choices: Pick just two healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners for your week. Stick to these and try and keep up with drinking two liters of water a day. It’s amazing how looking after your insides like this can have such a positive impact on your emotional well-being – but it really does.
#4 – Give your body a treat: A comforting, nourishing body moisturizer or a new shower wash can make you feel better. It can also help aid that all-important good nights sleep that is needed more than normal when you’re going through the trauma of a break-up. Indulge in yourself a little.
#5 – Take a walk / go for a run: Apart from the well known endorphins that exercise releases in your brain, it’ll also be a positive for your physical health. Depending on where you are physically, run or walk – even just do laps of your stairs on really difficult days. It’s important that you do this technique as it’s important to your well-being, even if you need to lay your running gear out the night before or set an alarm before work. I would walk my dog miles from my city house to the country, so it also did him a world of good too!
#6 – Turn on some upbeat music: Until you find yourself having a bit of a dance. Even go full blown boogie if you can! Maybe you can have a declutter and accompany this with some music or the radio; you’ll be taking on two acts of self-care without even realizing. Uplifting your spirits and allowing your mind to think “okay, I’m gonna get myself through this” isn’t as painstaking as you may think – the hardest part is just getting started and taking action.
#7 – Go outside: Get some sun if you can. Go sit on a park bench or go somewhere green if possible. Just let the clouds above you pass you by and breathe in the fresh air around you, letting your mind wander where it wants.
#1 – Help someone else: You may be thinking that you can barely help yourself right now, so how can you begin to help someone else? It only takes small gestures; helping someone carry their heavy shopping to their car or doing the milk run at work. Be kind, and you will be rewarded, even though it doesn’t feel that way now.
#2 – Date yourself: Yep, you did read that correctly. Have a date night with yourself. Light a few candles, put on some soothing music, cook yourself a nice dinner (or order takeout – it’s nice to indulge!) and watch a movie or settle down with a good book. Making yourself content doesn’t need to be as hard as you think – give this a go.
#3 – Seek out beauty everywhere: On your way home from work or whilst out shopping, take yourself on a beauty scavenger hunt. Look out for the intricacies and form of things and find the beauty in them. Make it your goal to find five things of beauty on your next outing.
#4 – Take a break: Alone. Even if it’s just a day out in your city or a nearby town, take yourself away for a day or two. Explore, indulge, be inquisitive and open to new experiences. It’s time alone like this that we can really get to know ourselves that much better, and taking a big step out of your comfort zone like this is a positive step for the mind. You don’t need to spend much money doing this, either.
#5 – If you need help, ask for it: Whether you’re at work or talking to your credit card company, it does wonders for your soul when you swallow your anxiety and ask for help. To push forward to positivity, you need to know that everyone needs help from time to time. You’ll feel so much better once your stresses are out in the open, and you’ll begin to feel like you can get on top of things.
#6 – Keep a thought diary: Writing your thoughts and feelings down is a very cathartic way of releasing negative emotions. At the end of every day, you should make note of how you’ve felt that day; any highs, lows or inbetweens. Then end your daily diary of how you wish to feel tomorrow and how you could achieve that.
#7 – Reach out with small gestures: Things like engaging with the barista who serves you your coffee or smiling at someone fills up your soul with positive energy. Even if this doesn’t sound like you and you usually shy away from doing these kinds of little gestures, I urge you to give them a go – you’ll feel a little better after each one.
With each little bit of attention you give to you and your self-care is a leap in the right direction for where you want to be heading in life.
After you have tended to yourself piece by piece, you’ll eventually feel the fog lifting from above you. You’ll have spent time and care nourishing yourself and the techniques above will help you feel more connected to yourself than ever.
With each small step being taking, things won’t seem as difficult as they did before. You can even create your own self-care routines; waking up early to have a run, eating a healthy breakfast and ensuring you take chances to step out of your comfort zone where possible – whatever works best for you and your situation.
Take inspiration from the above and begin to practice small actions that will soon begin to resonate as healthy habits. These will enable you to begin rising from the black hole of heartbreak into a world of hopefulness, positivity and happiness.