5 Tips To Self Soothe If You’re Feeling Anxious

When feelings of heartbreak anxiety set in, it can be so easy to run away with them or distract yourself in unhealthy ways. To help you self soothe, we have some hygge inspired tips to ease anxiety, feel comforted and regain a sense of self and control.

1. Do something physical

Sometimes, sitting with your thoughts can only perpetuate feelings of anxiety. A big part of hygge is about getting outside. If it’s chillier, bundle up and take a walk in nature. Go for a run or a walk to elevate your mood and also give you a healthy dose of Vitamin D. Exercise is an amazing way to release stress. Just 15-30 minutes a day will make a big difference.

2. Take regular breaks

Even if your work offers a welcome distraction from what you’re feeling, it’s still important to give yourself a rest throughout the day. Have some calming herbal tea, take a full lunch break to refuel and recharge mindfully and perhaps try incorporating some reading into your lunch break too. The more rested you feel in your body and mind, the more your anxiety will ease.

3. Get higher quality sleep

Good sleep is a core part of hygge. Sleeping is when your body regenerates both physically and emotionally. When you’re anxious, it’s understandable that good quality sleep can be difficult, so it’s important to create rituals that get your body and mind into a state of rest come night time. Let your body know that it’s time to wind down. Switch off electronic devices about an hour before bed, inhale lavender essential oil, take a soothing bath, do a wind-down yoga routine, read or meditate.

4. Give yourself a daily treat

One of our favorite hygge traditions is the daily ‘fika’! This is where you give yourself something to look forward to every day. In this case, something that will offer some respite from the anxiety you’re feeling and lift your mood. Whether it be a delicious hot chocolate from your favorite coffee shop, getting a massage or just giving yourself an extra hour to read. 

We also love the idea of ‘lordagsgodis’ – Saturday Sweets! This is where the Scandinavians allow children to have a small bag of sweets once a week. If you’re not into sugary treats though, you can adapt this to whatever works best. (But sometimes, a tasty indulgence once a week can definitely be good for the soul!)

5. Share your feelings with friends

If you’re trying too hard to cope with feelings of anxiety alone, it can only make it seem worse. A problem shared can definitely be a problem halved and hygge is all about connecting with those close to you. Talk to your friends and let them be there to comfort you and lift you up. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel.

We hope you enjoy using these hygge tips to create little rituals throughout the day that will make big changes.

Understanding How The Stages Of Grief Relate To Heartbreak

There’s no doubt you’ve heard about the five stages of grief sometimes talked about in pop culture and the media. It’s called the Kubler-Ross Model, and was actually meant to describe a dying person’s way of coping with death (think terminally ill patients), but was commonly used to instead explain how people grieve over loved ones that have already passed. All the research that Kubler-Ross conducted was on the dying, so there’s no actual research that backs the five stages of grief as they refer to grieving a loved one. That being said, take these five stages with a grain of salt. Grieving is not a one-size-fits-all model, and these stages aren’t linear. You can jump from one to another, but you don’t have to experience all of them. How often you think about the loss is a larger predictor of what stage you are in than the passing of time.

After a breakup, you may be grieving too. You may not have permanently lost someone, but in a way, you kind of did. Here’s how the five stages of grief relate to heartbreak.

Denial:

This is where you pretend the breakup didn’t happen, that it’s more of a break than a breakup, or that it can still be worked through. In this stage, you will continue to talk to your ex and check up on them on social media. You will still expect them to care for you and meet your needs. You will still fall into old routines and traditions you had together (like continuing to read the book you were reading together, and dog-earing pages you want to talk to them about). This helps you temporarily cope with the loss that you are denying.

Anger:

When you reach this stage, you can’t believe how little your ex cares, or you may start to doubt the relationship entirely, or you feel guilty over things you’ve done or didn’t do and get mad at yourself. You can be angry at your ex, yourself, God, destiny, the universe, whatever you think is responsible for this. Maybe you hear news you would have rather not heard and get frustrated by it. This anger is just a release of all the pain you are feeling. This is likely where you’ll start thinking about the “should haves,” “what ifs,” and “if onlys.”

It’s also worth noting that acute grief, which is the most difficult part of grieving, is when you experience physiological symptoms like not being able to fall asleep or not wanting to eat. This generally only lasts 3-6 months.

Bargaining:

This is where you try to strike a deal to get back what you lost. This may look like trying to find “closure” by talking to your ex and convincing them you should get back together. This could also mean using the Law of Attraction to try to get your ex back, or praying to be reunited.

Depression:

When the reality of the breakup sinks in, you just get really, really depressed. You realize that you really did lose this person, and will not be getting them back. It hits hard and can come with loneliness and/or hopelessness.

Acceptance:

After theoretically going through the previous stages, your pain becomes more familiar. It may not necessarily be gone, but you have learned to live with it. You accept the loss of your ex as a part of your life and work towards rebuilding a life without them.

There are so many factors that have an effect on how someone grieves when heartbroken, such as the nature of the breakup, personality, and other stressors or life transitions. Don’t worry if you aren’t grieving in this exact order. Understanding that these various stages exist and happen for some people may help you understand your feelings and your own grieving process.

How To Get Over Your Ex

It’s no surprise that ‘how to get over your ex’ is such a popular Google search out there. Everyone wants to know: how can you get over your ex?

The results can sometimes be disheartening; everything can seem a little cookie cutter, full of platitudes and only really scratches the surface of what you’re feeling.

Every breakup is different and as humans, we’re all dynamic with so many complex emotions, coping mechanisms, and feelings. The good news though, is that there are tools out there and a light at the end of the ex tunnel!

So, here are some recommendations of what getting over your ex really means, questions you might need to ask yourself, and a selection of practical tips that you can implement to aid the mending process.

Be compassionate with yourself.

What’s important to remember is that getting over your ex isn’t a linear process. It’s impossible to be able to give a specific date of when you’ll be “over” an ex and some days will be better than others, especially in the beginning.

Even though it might feel like you make great progress one week and then suddenly find yourself back in heartbreak hell again the next, it doesn’t mean that you’ve gone backward. In the bigger picture, you will be making progress. So in those moments, treat yourself with the same kindness and empathy you would your best friend.

When we’re going through times of emotional stress, we need to be as compassionate and gentle as possible with ourselves because this accelerates the overall mending process.

Commit to letting go.

To be able to get over your ex, one major key is finding acceptance. Oftentimes we say that all we want to do is get over them but in reality, and usually subconsciously, letting go is too scary, which is what part of what holds us back.

Letting go of an ex means saying goodbye to that relationship, to that specific future we visualized. It means facing those fears head-on. “What if I end up alone?” “What if my ex was the one and I gave up too soon?” “What if I can’t get anyone better than my ex?” “What if they find someone else?”. All of these questions can permeate our minds and stop us from fully letting go.

To be able to move forward we need to embrace the unknown and allow that space in.

So how can you make peace with the idea of letting go? Something we recommend is to write down the benefits of letting go. Instead of focusing on what you feel you might lose, focus on what you could gain by letting go of the relationship.

Your list might include things like being able to fully explore your passions and interests, to travel more freely, to spend your weekends as you please, to make more time for friends. It could be that you no longer have to worry about fighting the gut instinct that something just isn’t right in the relationship. Perhaps it’s that you now have space to truly reflect and create new healthy boundaries.

The more you do this and look at it from a different perspective, the more you can give yourself permission to fully let go.

Cut off contact.

You’ve probably heard this one before but we can’t leave it out because it’s a crucial part of being able to get over your ex. Creating that physical and emotional distance is one of the hardest parts of a breakup. But the more you stay in touch with an ex (excluding logistical reasons that need communication or if you have children), it’s like rubbing salt in the emotional wound. It’s harder to mend and the process is prolonged.

There are no easy ways to cut off contact with an ex but to give you some tips, we first recommend checking in daily on the Mend app, which guides you through the process day by day and allows you to keep track of how many days you’ve gone no contact with an ex.

Something you can also do is identify your triggers. Think about when you feel most vulnerable and likely to want to reach out. Perhaps it’s the first thing in the morning or before you go to bed, or maybe at the same time every day when you were used to talking to your ex.

Once you can pre-empt when you’re most likely to make that contact, you can substitute with other healthier, more fulfilling actions such as texting a friend, taking a walk, writing in your journal to express what you want to say, or turning your hand to something creative.

It isn’t easy but as each day goes by, the urge to text your ex will lessen.

Create new memories.

A huge part of getting over your ex is creating new neural pathways in the brain. When we’re going through heartbreak, we tend to focus on the past and continue to do things that remind us of our ex. That only serves to keep us stuck. So it’s all about re-wiring!

Let’s say you and your ex had a Sunday ritual of going for brunch at a spot you both loved. Well, now it’s time to create a different routine for your Sunday. Do a workout class, go somewhere else with a completely different vibe for brunch with your friends, take an online class, do something creative that you love at home. It might not feel immediately better but it will start to imprint a new memory in your brain that you associate with you and this new chapter in your life.

You can take this approach with many things–rearrange your space and clear out any of your ex’s belongings (highly recommend you do this!), switch up your morning and evening routines, or take a different route to work. The idea is to make it as mending, fun, explorative, and nourishing as possible for yourself.

This part is so powerful and can help immensely.

Do a digital detox.

When we’re going through a breakup and trying to get over our ex, it’s all too easy to start becoming reliant on social media. Either to try and glean any details on what your ex is up to, or as a way to numb out and distract ourselves.

Social media, and the online world, in general, can be incredible if we curate it in the best way possible, but it can also be detrimental when we’re in a vulnerable spot. We’re more prone to comparing ourselves to others and it can send us into freefall if we see our ex is out there portraying himself or herself having an amazing time without us.

Social media isn’t a true version of reality though and while you might know that on an intellectual level, you’ll likely find some time off it can help you connect to the real world. Spending time with loved ones, doing something creative, getting out in nature, and just generally being out in the fresh air is extremely healing and the best tonic for the soul.

Find a way to express your emotions.

The more we allow ourselves to feel what we’re feeling and express them, the easier it is to transition through the breakup. Some people like to do this through journaling or writing it down. Even if it’s just five minutes a day, the act of writing everything down can feel like all the stagnant emotional energy has found a release. It can help you say what’s on your heart without your ex being involved and it can also help you make sense of your feelings to be able to work through them.

Other things you can do are reaching out to a friend, speaking to a therapist or coach, going somewhere quiet and screaming out loud (so good!), singing, practicing yoga, or using creativity as a way to let out your feelings.

Expression is also amazing for stimulating the vagus nerve, which helps you to relax, breathe, and feel healthier and more at peace.

Know that you don’t need your ex to get closure.

What often holds us back from getting over an ex is feeling like we need closure. This is usually the reason for keeping the communication going and mostly ends with more questions left unanswered. When we’re in hot pursuit of closure, we very rarely get the answers we want and it keeps us in a perpetual cycle of communication and heartbreak.

What you need to know is that the relationship history and the breakup happening has already given you the closure you need. In your gut, you likely have all the answers to your questions. Even if you don’t have answers, that’s ok too. You can still make the decision to let go and move forward.

It can be incredibly hard to accept but that realization can also be beautifully empowering. While it might not seem fair, it might mean being open to forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to moving forward because it’s setting you free to live your life in the way that you truly deserve. It’s not letting your ex off the hook, it’s serving you. It might also mean forgiving yourself.

This part can be the biggest piece of the journey because it means you can finally close the chapter and truly start to get over your ex. You might want to carry out a ritual to mark letting go, gaining the closure you need and moving on to your next chapter. It could be writing a letter to your ex saying everything that you want to say and then (safely!) burning the letter or it could be a huge decluttering and revamp of your space. It can be anything you want!

Again, it doesn’t immediately take away the pain but it can help you breathe the huge sigh of emotional relief that you’ve needed.

We hope these tips help you. Just remember, this isn’t about getting it perfect. Take it day by day and every day aim to add more of what you love into your life. That could be time with friends and family, doing activities you enjoy, staying healthy, setting personal goals, or taking trips. The point is to prioritize yourself while working through getting over an ex.

We know how hard it is to break free from an ex, and that’s why we’ve designed an entire program to support you on the path to wholeness. As a loyal blog reader, we are offering 50% off all our Mend Classes for a limited time. Use code BLOG50 at checkout. We cover topics like sex with your ex, letting go, and how to recover from rebounds. Sign up to get started.

How You Can Improve Your Sleep Naturally After a Difficult Breakup

Many adults in the US are plagued by difficulty falling or staying asleep, and sleep can be especially difficult when you’re missing your former partner. In fact, Huffington Post says nearly a third of us have issues with getting the rest we need to thrive. Yet sleep often comes down to simple habits. Here’s a look at some ways you can improve your slumber after a tough breakup without the use of sleep aids.

Check Your Mattress

It’s no surprise that a great mattress leads to a great night’s sleep. However, many of us still sleep on substandard mattresses. For starters, any mattress over ten years old probably needs to be replaced. Over time, the materials wear down, and the support you need for restful sleep is lost.

Moreover, a mattress that’s too small will keep you up at night, particularly if you sleep with a partner. If you share a bed with another person, make sure you’re at least in a queen-size mattress. This size is often ideal, as it provides enough room for two without taking up as much floor space as a king.

Take time to find the one that suits you best. For instance, Leesa mattresses are great for those who want as little movement transfer as possible; Allswell mattresses are a great pick for people who want the foam mattress experience at an affordable price point.

Turn Out The Lights

You probably switch off your lamp before bed, but is your room as dark as it could possibly be? Dr. Ben Kim says true darkness is important for getting the quality sleep you need. Light will pull you out of the deeper sleep cycles, even if you don’t wake up all the way. This leads to fitful, unproductive sleep, and can even contribute to health concerns.

Try to reduce as many sources of bedroom light as possible. This can be achieved through the use of blackout curtains, removing electronics, and other steps. If you can sleep with one comfortably, a sleep mask is a budget-friendly solution.

Care for Yourself

What you eat can have a big impact on how well you sleep. Indigestion and acid reflux are a common source of sleep troubles. A simple way to reduce these issues is to pay close attention to what you eat, particularly at night. The closer you get to bedtime, the more you should avoid heavy or spicy foods which might disrupt your rest. If you’re craving something late, Eat This, Not That suggests aiming for some kiwi fruit, almonds, or dark cherries.

Keep an eye on caffeine consumption as well. Having caffeine in the afternoon or later will disrupt your ability to rest well into the night. Depending on your sensitivity, you may need to cut out caffeine earlier in the day.

Look for activities you can participate in that will help you relax. A regular fitness routine can boost your mood and promote sleep as well. Meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or get yourself a relaxing massage. These little things can add up and aid the healing process.

Getting a good night’s rest after a difficult breakup allows you to take on the world during the day. Sort through your habits and make adjustments as needed. With simple lifestyle changes, the odds are good you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time!

The Founder of Behere, Meesen Brown, Shares Her Top Tips For A Solo Trip

Traveling solo can seem incredibly daunting and down right overwhelming. As humans, we’re inherently dependent on others and that’s often amplified in new environments. However, there are so many benefits to traveling alone; from getting to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, to moving at your own pace, to meeting new people, and growing and learning along the way.

I’ve experienced these benefits, and many more, firsthand – re booking spontaneous flights, making lifelong friends, etc – from my years of solo travel. They’re part of the reason I started Behere, to make it easier for women to travel to new places, while still maintaining their routines. So I’m sharing my top 10 tips for a solo trip to make it a lot less daunting, and a lot more fun!

1. Download ebooks, podcasts, music etc – for long flights, train rides or an afternoon relaxing – having time to yourself is essential when traveling by yourself. You might feel the need to make new friends and always be social, but the quiet moments alone are underrated while traveling – make time for them.

2. Share your itinerary with family / friends – paying special attention to staying safe while traveling alone is essential, so share where you’ll be and when, with loved ones. That way they know where you are and when to check in – and if you have a few days without your phone because of a retreat, they’ll see it on your itinerary. Don’t forget to send friends and family an update text, or a quick FaceTime but also remember to enjoy the moment and where you are.

3. Explore the city on foot – taking an Uber or cab might be more convenient or faster, but you’ll always see the most of the city, and the way people live there, when exploring by foot. Plus you’ll save money, get some exercise and find unique places that you wouldn’t have found otherwise – happy walking!

4. Be cautious, especially alone at night – as much as I believe people are good and kind, you can never be too careful when in a new place. Do some research on areas/neighborhoods that are safe and always try to arrive to a new place during the day. Also, plan your transportation route ahead of time and get a working sim card, and learn the local emergency number, just in case.

5. Book your accommodation ahead of time – I always try to book apartments vs hotels for a more authentic, and comfortable feel. Firstly, I do research to find the best/safe areas of the city, then I choose the more expat friendly areas vs the touristy one. That way I can find a more local cafe for coffee, and shop at the markets and local stores vs being pushed around in the overpriced tourist markets/cafes. This is the reason I started Behere, to help you feel more comfortable, safe and settled from the get-go in a new city.

6. Keep a routine – I’ve said this time and time again, maintaining a routine while traveling keep me productive, sane and grounded. I always do some research ahead of time to find local fitness studios, yoga, pilates, spin etc. It can also be a great way to meet people in the city, and have a nice community feel. If you prefer running, look up some running routes around the city, it’s also a great way to explore a new place.

7. Work from a coworking space – if you’re bringing work on your trip, working in coworking spaces is a great way to meet new people, attend events, build your network and learn about business in that country. It’s how I’ve met great friends, brainstormed ideas and connecting with brilliant people at masterminds. Also we shared helpful tools to stay connected with your team while you’re traveling (Slack, Skype, Google Docs, Uber Conference, to name a few)

8. Find local communities, meetups etc – attending meetups and events for things your interested in, in a new city is a great way to meet people with similar interests. I love finding and connecting with female focused/founder communities while traveling and always try to cohost meetups and events with them. There’s often meetups in english, so if you don’t speak the local language, don’t be afraid to sign up.

9. Learn a bit of the local language – knowing the basics and common phrases will go a long way in your experience in a new place. Practice a bit beforehand using apps like Duolingo, and Google Translate (this also has a feature where you can point your camera at words/ a menu and it will translate for you). Don’t be afraid to try, people will appreciate the effort and might even help with your pronunciation.

10. Have a meal on your own – this may seem strange, but there is something delightful about dining out by yourself. Taking the time to just enjoy the meal and observe, teaches you about the culture and people of that city. If dining out isn’t your thing, cook for yourself and take it to a park or spot to watch the daily life go by. People watching is a great way to learn about the local culture and take a break while in a new place.

The Quiet Voice I Finally Listened to

“It is only alone, truly alone, that one bursts apart, springs forth.”
-Maria Isabel Barren

I stared at the Mount Si sign, adjusting my backpack, putting one foot in front of the other to launch myself up the mountain. A year ago, the thought of doing anything alone would’ve killed me. It’s incredible when all of a sudden the limits you created for yourself no longer exist.

I crave people: community, conversation and energy – I need it in my life. In other words, I’m an extrovert. But as I’ve become more self-aware, I’m learning that there’s a quiet little voice that urges me to be alone and find myself. Prior to this discovery, the extrovert was so happy to have found an amazing person to spend my entire life with.

I made a decision. I stood in front of family and friends and said yes to a life. Even though a little introvert voice asked me politely to wait, I still said yes and committed my life to another person.  I could list off the reasons I did it: love, mom’s cancer, “ideals,” but there isn’t really any use in doing that.  As time passed and I lived confined to a role I wasn’t sure I wanted, that little voice grew louder. 

Miles and miles away from my old life, moments of loneliness hit when I crave it.  Then I remind myself that I left.  And when I did, the quiet voice became a pounding song that held my hand as I drove away. I needed to find myself. I needed to know what I wanted – and it had to be done alone. I had to allow myself to take that journey.

People shift and change. If we don’t let them, we lose them. If you start to feel dishonest about yourself, you lose you. I was so lost, and I never even knew who I was to begin with. I hadn’t given myself a chance to find it.

Sweating up Mount Si, the grey skies cleared to let light in and it hit me – how everything is beautifully flawed. If we allow everyone to be a perfect mess, we can find our way on our own – but still together.

I have been many different versions of myself. I’ve had every hair colour and tried almost every sport. From student council president to class troublemaker, yoga teacher to trucker’s mouth, I add a lot of flavour in the pot.  I’m aware of this.

In my marriage I felt like I was wearing all of these hats, trying to find yet another version of myself that fit for somebody else, not one that fit for me. I was left with a room full of hats and I didn’t want to wear any of them.

I truly need to know who I am in order to mean what I say in life. I had to discover it the hard way. I had to break a promise. I had to learn that the grass can be browner, and you won’t make it into everyone’s good books along the way, but you’re worth finding.

Somehow I know that every experience has led me here – to knowing myself. Every bad decision and wrong turn was actually the path I needed to take. 

I’ve never learned anything by following directions. Falling over has helped me up, and getting lost has helped me find the way. 

Now I’m on top of this, looking over it. 

The view is imperfectly perfect, but I’ve earned it. More self-aware, I get me and I know how I fit.  I didn’t discover any of this by ignoring the quiet voice inside my soul; I found it by becoming best friends with it.

We know how hard it is to let go after a relationship, and that’s why we’ve designed an entire program to support you on the path to wholeness. As a loyal blog reader, we are offering 50% off all our Mend Classes for a limited time. Use code BLOG50 at checkout. We cover topics like infidelity, letting go, and how to recover from rebounds. Sign up to get started.

7 Ways To Soothe Your Nervous System Post-Breakup, According To A Therapist

Research from psychology and neuroscience now confirms what poets and artists and songwriters have always known: the end of romantic connection can be a searing and devastating world of pain. The nervous system interprets emotional pain in the way that it processes physical pain. This is often captured in the somatic reactions to loss: loss of appetite or excessive eating; numbness and dissociation; heightened anxiety and vigilance; compulsive behavior; depression. 

The end of a relationship is the beginning of grief, a nervous system on fire and in danger. Especially if the loss is unexpected, sudden or unwanted, the ending of a relationship can be type of traumatic experience. The sting of heartbreak is often a wake-up call, an opportunity to regroup, reassess, and move towards a stronger, and more resilient version of yourself.

The deeper and more significant heartbreaks are often opportunities to revisit our unfinished emotional business. When the end of a romantic bond is especially difficult, one place to look to is unfinished emotional business from other domains of life, namely other significant romantic relationships and the first relationships from our families of origin. 

The loss of connection can often point towards ways that we have experienced loss in other periods of time in our life and also our responses to ruptures in emotional bonds from childhood. This is the fortunate unfortunate silver lining of a hard break up: the opportunity to revisit and reclaim parts of ourselves that require healing. The type of healing that supports us in making new, stable connections as we shift from the connections we inherit from our families of origin to the connections of choice we create with romantic partners.

Entering a period of grief often requires commitment to moving through it’s stages from disillusionment to bargaining followed by anger and ultimately acceptance. In a culture where change happens ever more rapidly, it is counterintuitive to allow the time and space for the grief of a relationship ending to express itself. The most critical first step in mending from a break up is acknowledging the loss. It happened, it’s significant, and hard. From there, the healing can begin.

Here are 7 of my tips for soothing and healing your nervous system: 

1. Remember the basics: The wracking nerves of anxiety can easily distract away from life’s basic tasks. Eat regular meals, keep up with your sleep routine, spend time with people

2. Exercise and move: Depression and withdrawal can quickly set in, leaving one unmotivated and despondent. despite the entropy, be sure to move the body. Remember: exercise can be a great antidepressant

3. Adopt a mindfulness practice: The family of meditations called ‘Compassion Practices’ offer care and much needed loving to tender hearts. An example is this heart-tending practice by meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg https://www.mindful.org/a-compassion-practice-for-opening-the-heart/

4. Get support: Friends, a therapist, support group, using resources through Mend, or a wise and trusted elder or mentor

5. Take a social media fast: as tempting as keeping tabs on your ex’s social media account can be, take a week or two sabbatical from checking likes and keeping tabs on them

6. Take a break from dating: spend some time processing. A nice rule of thumb is to take a week break for each year of the relationship

7. Be careful with alcohol and drugs: like most of us, you may be tempted to use substances to numb or distract away from the pain

Why Infidelity Isn’t As Black And White As You May Think

Rebuilding trust after infidelity can be challenging, sometimes impossible. Many people see cheating as the ultimate betrayal and something they can’t forgive or forget.

In this TED Talk, relationship therapist Esther Perel explains that there are many complexities and layers of infidelity. It isn’t as black and white as you may think.

Here are more highlights from Esther’s fascinating TED Talk:

Infidelity is increasing, and it’s never been more difficult to keep a secret.

Infidelity is increasing because there are so many ways it can take place. To some people, it isn’t just physical. It can happen over text, on social media, and on dating apps. While it’s never been easier to cheat, it’s also never been more difficult to keep a secret. We live in an era where we’re constantly told to pursue our desires.

If we can so easily divorce now, why do we still have affairs?

Today, we divorce because we think we could be happier. Years ago, divorce was considered shameful. Now, the new shame is staying in a marriage when you’re not 100% happy. We feel judged if we find out our partner has cheated and still love them and want to stay with them.

Esther poses the question: if we can so easily divorce or part ways, why do we still have affairs? If you’re in a “perfect marriage” (assuming there is such a thing!), and have everything you need at home, surely there’s no need to look elsewhere. But what if passion has a finite shelf life? What if there are things that even the most amazing relationship can’t provide?

A vast majority of people Esther treats in her clinic find themselves at a crossroads between their core values and their behavior. One day they might cross a line they never thought they would at the risk of losing everything. When we seek love from someone else, it isn’t always our partner we’re turning away from, but from the person that we’ve become.

Affairs will continue to happen, but there are many different ways to recover from infidelity.

Depending on whether you cheated or were cheated on by your partner, there are different ways to heal. Sometimes infidelity can motivate people to start anew or redefine themselves as a couple. It can encourage openness and communication. The fear of losing someone for good often rekindles desire and makes way for a beginning.

Affairs will continue to happen. They don’t leave us with simple answers. Esther concludes that while she wouldn’t recommend having an affair, growth and self-discovery are possible whether you choose to makeup or breakup. You can create a whole new marriage or relationship with the same person after an affair, or you can break up and start a new chapter in life.

We know how hard it is to heal from infidelity, and that’s why we’ve designed an entire program to support you on the path to wholeness. As a loyal blog reader, we are offering 50% off all our Mend Classes for a limited time. Use code BLOG50 at checkout. Sign up to get started.

The Power of Saying “No”

Saying “no” is incredibly important during the mending process because it teaches you to set boundaries. Boundaries are all about having the discipline to do more of what makes you better and less of what makes you worse. During a heartbreak, these lines can be blurred. We find ourselves saying yes to everything that has even a minor potential of making us feel better, leaving us with hours of social media stalking and a schedule full of distractions that make us feel empty and unheard rather than on the mending journey. Instead of overwhelming yourself, try to say no sometimes, too. Heartbreak makes us feel terrible, and the only things we should be spending resources on are those that grow us and help us mend.

Setting boundaries are one way to increase your mindfulness (no meditation required) because you become much more aware of what you invest yourself in. Here’s how saying no and setting boundaries gives you a deeper appreciation of your three resources: time, talent, and treasure.

Time

Think of some things that waste your time. For example:
1. Rereading texts with your ex.
2. Social gatherings with people who you have outgrown.
3. Checking social media impulsively rather than for a purpose.
4. Going on dates with people who have different intentions than you.

When you start saying no to wasting your time, you will come to value it so much more. Your time is a non-repleting resource and the most valuable one you’ve got. You can build skills and make money but you will never get back the time that you waste. Instead of sitting at a lame social gathering and checking your phone out of boredom, you could be doing something fun or productive with people you admire. You don’t have to say “yes” everytime people invite you out. Make sure you especially don’t say yes to something you don’t care much for if you already promised yourself you’d get something else done during that time. The more you learn to say no to wasting time, the more you will learn to respect it, and the more careful you will be about how you spend it. Setting boundaries around how you spend your time starts a chain reaction of saying no to things that also waste your talent and your treasure.

Talent

Think of some of your strengths. For example:
1. Patience, empathy
2. Painting, sketching, drawing
3. Sports

When you say no to doing things that will waste your time, you find yourself doing things that you are drawn to, with people who appreciate your talent. Pay attention to what those things are because when you cultivate new skills, they can become strengths. This self-growth and self-awareness are awesome for your mending process. When you know your strengths you will have a deeper appreciation for yourself, and a deeper awareness for what you can contribute to the world. If you are very patient, you can volunteer with crisis counseling or family mediation. If you are good at visual art, you can make it a side hustle, or volunteer to teach others to embrace their creativity. If you are good at sports, you can help kids release aggression by cultivating this skill. Talents can often be exploited just for money or fame. But, when you truly appreciate your own talents, it becomes more than just a job. It becomes a way for you to grow and to help others grow as well.

Treasure

What are some things you spend your money on? Maybe:
1. Lunch “dates” you felt obligated to go on.
2. Supplies and books for school/work that you know you won’t use or read.
3. Groceries, because the produce went bad before you could eat it.

When you say no to spending your money frivolously, it teaches you to make the most of what you already have, which helps you to build gratitude. Gratitude is super helpful for mending your heart and leads you to a more joyful life. You might even learn new skills in the process, like cooking new dishes to make sure your produce gets used up, and meal prepping to save on lunch money. By creating boundaries on your budget, you have to ask yourself “will this item actually help me in a way nothing else I own can?” This definitely helps you to grow in creativity with how you use what you have and helps you to build new life skills. It also builds a deeper appreciation for all the resources you are responsible for: your items, your money, your time, and your talents.

“No” is such a powerful word. It sets boundaries that keep you on the track of self care and self-discipline. Boundaries can be hard to stick to, but it takes discipline to take care of yourself and always choose what’s best for you in the long run rather than what you would prefer to do right now. It helps you to realize who you want to be, who you want to allow into your life, what kind of energy you want to maintain, and what kind of habits will help you to grow and to mend. Hopefully, this guide helps you to appreciate your resources a little bit more.

The One Trait That Will Help You Get through Anything

Traumatic events come in all shapes and forms. They can be chronic, like enduring the long-term effects of a big breakup. Or they can occur in an instant: abuse, accidents, or the sudden loss of someone dear. 

Why is it that some people crumble under life’s pressures, while others who face arguably more trying circumstances find ways to flourish? Why do I have to fight back the tears when I get a parking ticket at the end of a tough day, while other people are out running marathons without legs?

Resilience, our ability to thrive in the face of adversity, is what makes the difference.  Maria Konnikova recently took a closer look at resilience and here are three things to know about it.

Resilient People Lack A Victim Mentality

There have been several variations of studies that track the performance of school children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and then examines what the children who thrive are doing differently from those who don’t.

One of the most profound differences is in the kids’ mindset. The most successful kids have a pronounced lack of victim mentality; rather, much the opposite. They have a strong sense personal agency, seeing themselves as influencing outcomes in their lives, and not the other way around. This is known in the literature as having an “internal locus of control.” 

Resilient People Assign Meaning To Setbacks

Another strategy that research has shown the most resilient people use is to assign meaning to the setbacks they experience. In crafting this narrative, in giving themselves a personal “why,” they are able to transform the mental experience from suffering to growing pains. This might explain why it’s probably not coincidence that resilient people tend to be more spiritual than average, and why spiritual people are happier than most. Spirituality can be a very effective tool for giving meaning to life, but it is not the only tool. 

The benefit is more than mental: reframing a stressful event from traumatizing to a challenge to be overcome can sooth the body’s fight or flight response, which can make you more effective in dealing with it.

Resilient People Re-frame Experiences

It’s important to note that the benefits of doing this can be enjoyed even by people who don’t do this naturally: when researchers have taught people to re-frame, (e.g. “This is temporary,” or “Not everything about this is bad,”) those people experience less anxiety and depression. So the next time you find yourself up against a tough battle, increase your chances of coming out the other side by asking yourself how you can re-frame things.

For more on resilience, see Maria’s full article here (newyorker.com).

What Are Your Self Love Rituals?

Establishing rituals can be a crucial part of the healing process. Today, 8 Menders are sharing the self love rituals that help them stay #onthemend.

“I love to do yoga 2 or 3 times a week and have recently discovered a love for hot yoga! It just makes me feel calmer, more connected and at peace with myself. I regularly get massages now, seeing it as an act of self-love rather than an indulgence and I’m really mindful of fueling my body with what it needs. I also meditate and journal every day. So often, self-love can go to the bottom of the pile of everyday life but if you don’t commit to it on a daily basis, you become emotionally and physically depleted. So I’m big on tapping into those soul cravings and making time for them!” -Laura Y.

“I love getting ready slow! Taking time in how I adorn myself is such a treat and fun process. I also don’t ingest content that doesn’t make me a better person – no junk food media or social media feeds. I want to spend my leisure time learning and not losing sight of what’s important to me.” -Shan B.

“A decadent dinner of sushi can heal a lot of ills. Follow this with vegan banana nut ice cream and everything becomes shrouded in a rosy glow. I also have a stack of movies that always bring a lot of joy: Amelie, Frida, Annie Hall, Chocolat, Under the Tuscan Sun. Oh, and a good mani/ pedi combo makes me feel enamored of myself.” -Susan A.

“I strive to eliminate the negative self-talk in my head. It’s taken a long time to fully love every part of myself and it was hard won. Every now and then the voices of doubt come creeping back in, but I don’t let them stay long. I am grateful and secure in my abilities and I know that being kind to myself is the best thing I can do to achieve my goals. For me, I love cooking and eating well. I have a post-it note with positive affirmations and reminders on them. Included are ‘You are beautiful’ and ‘Don’t get caught up in the destination.’ I spend time with friends who can shake me out of any rut I may have fallen into and revel in the steadfast, unyielding love of my dog. I try to build and fortify this house of love, light and joy, so that I may live in it, especially when the wold makes me feel like less.” -Megan S.

“My main one is positive affirmations. When I am in a good place, I will write down how I am feeling and then when I have a low moment I can go back and read these notes. They give me an instant boost and remind me of how I truly feel about myself.” -Zanna V.

“Exercise: I always feel 1,000 times better after a workout. Always. Pep-talks: Sometimes I am scared to do something or fear the unknown and I have to remind myself that if someone else can do something then I can too. Friendship: If I feel sad or stressed, I have dinner with friends. It’s so nice to be able to laugh and talk with people who have the best intentions for you. Happiness: I’ve learnt not to invest time in things that don’t make me happy. Friends, boyfriends…anyone I feel makes me feel bad about myself. Music: There’s nothing a good sing-song can’t fix.” -Ashley J

“Fitting in a workout class, taking naps, going on solo walks and adventures!” -Jen G

“Self-care keeps me sane. I get body work done frequently. Massages, reiki, ayurvedic treatments. I go to the Korean Spa when I need a tune-up. Day-to-day I’ll take a walk, a bath, soak my feet, have sex, go to the beach and let the sun and ocean heal me. I sometimes wear my favorite dress and just let the world admire my beauty. You have to be your biggest fan.” -Natalie P.

5 Things I Learned Traveling Alone after a Breakup

Ever since I left Australia in January, I’ve been swamped with questions. “What’s it like?” “Where have you been?” “Are you happy?” “When are you coming back?” “Have you seen this place?” “How much money do you spend?” “Are you missing home yet?”

But by far, the general type of question I get asked the most is: “Aren’t you scared traveling alone?” or, “Aren’t you lonely?” or, “Have you made any friends?”

There are so many things involved in answering this that I had to write a list of what I learned traveling alone.

1. There’s nothing wrong with being alone.

I never get asked these questions by people that are single or have a strong sense of independence. People that have walked off the beaten path (relationship -> career -> marriage -> family) seem to understand what I’m doing, or have a better concept of it. 

I’ve had my happiest moments alone. Sure, they weren’t filled with laughter like they are when you’re with friends or love like when you’re with your partner. No, the moments that have been my happiest have been in solitude, completely free of expectations and living my life at my own pace. 

There is something so deeply satisfying about being content with who you are and where you are in your life. The happiest moment of my life so far was sitting on a beach at Koh Phangan, Thailand after a recent break up. I’ve never felt so completely content with my situation and my life. And guess what? I was alone. 

2. Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely.

If you believe what I just wrote above, then it just goes to show that being alone doesn’t mean that you are lonely. So why do so many people think like that? I personally believe it’s insecurity. People become tangled in their normal lives, constantly surrounded by a support network that makes the very thought of having to deal with things without any close friends or family debilitating.

This is only re-confirmed for me because I know I did the same thing. I used people – not in a malicious way – but as a crutch. When something upset me, I would lean on my boyfriend. When someone angered me, I would vent to my mum. Since traveling alone, I’ve had to learn to deal with and overcome things that happen on my own.

People think that others judge them for being alone, without any friends. It couldn’t be further from the truth though – people are too busy worrying about themselves to consider what’s happening around them.

3. Traveling alone is scary, and that’s a good thing

Most people wouldn’t dare catch a plane to a strange country without any support network – because it’s “terrifying!” It is scary, don’t get me wrong. I’d never been overseas, let alone by myself… it was the most humbling experience I’ve ever been through. But living your life in the monotony of 9 to 5, with the same group of people (that you often don’t like all that much) and the same routine is soul-crushing.

Being alone in a foreign country opens you up to so many experiences. You’ll meet a pair of Australian boys on the beach who take you under their wing and show you around Seminyak. You’ll get breakfast with two English lads, then on the bike ride home have a motorbike accident and scars (and memories) for life. You’ll meet hundreds, and I mean *hundreds*, of people who are traveling alone and think it’s the most normal thing in the world.

If I was with friends, I never would have met the two Israeli boys in Chiang Mai after my accident, who saw me as I was – a very injured, solo traveler who couldn’t do much except sit around at the hostel all day. I can’t help but smile when I think back about that week spent with Nir and Tal – they spoilt me rotten, and they’d only met me the day before!

4. It’s hard not to make friends while traveling

Asking if you’ve made any friends while traveling is like asking if you’ve blinked at all today. Making friends while traveling is one of the easiest things you can do, especially because most people are traveling alone. People are relaxed, open to experiences and looking for fun when they’re traveling. You can’t walk five meters without running into someone doing something interesting or funny. And the great thing is most people are open to adventure while overseas, so you get to meet all sorts of crazy characters to create unforgettable memories with.

5. It’s actually tough to feel lonely while traveling solo

At the end of the day, if you get some alone time while traveling alone…you’re a very lucky person! I’ve literally been on the go non-stop for the last two months and getting back to Australia was a nice surprise.

It’s not just that there are always things to do, it’s more that you’re constantly surrounded by a group of people that is coming and going. They have plans, they have stories, they want to go do this (and invite you along!). You don’t have much time to relax and it’s even harder if you’re trying to work while traveling like I am.

So no, I’m not scared of traveling alone, I’m not lonely and yes, I’ve made friends (for life). I wouldn’t swap the experience for anything in the world.

Demystifying Therapy: Preparing for Your First Session

Preparing for your first session with a new therapist can be a bit nerve wracking. Sharing your pain and vulnerabilities with a perfect stranger can feel foreign and even daunting. So if you notice yourself feeling nervous, don’t worry, it is totally normal. But don’t let those feelings get in the way of getting the most out of it.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for your first session with a new therapist.

You Have Nothing To Lose – Be Honest

While compassionate and caring, the therapist is not your “friend”. The relationship with your therapist is different than any other relationship you will ever have. You are guaranteed complete confidentiality and an environment free of any judgment or criticism. It is structured this way purposefully to allow for the total emotional transparency that might otherwise feel unsafe.

So while it is normal to feel inclined to censor information when we talk to someone new, this contradicts the whole purpose of the therapeutic relationship. Your therapist is not there to judge you, he or she is there to support you in your pain (and even help you diminish the shame you feel). You are not going to get the most out of the process if you are not being totally transparent. So even though it might feel a bit like swimming upstream, push yourself to be brutally honest with your therapist so you two can address the real issues head on. If you don’t, you may be wasting your own time and money.

Come With A Direction In Mind, But Be Open To A Detour

Think about what you most want to get out of the process before you arrive for your first session. Your therapist will work with you to determine what your goals in working together will be, but don’t rely on the professional to do all the work for you – this therapy is for you and about you. Remember that you are the expert on your own experience and that expertise is essential in ensuring that you are on the right track.

At the same time, be open to seeing new things and considering other directions. The beauty about therapy is that the objective lens of the therapist, paired psychological expertise, will allow him or her to see some things that are not visible to you and together you can work to co-construct a plan that best meets your needs.

Focus On How The Relationship Feels

The most important factor in the effectiveness of therapy is the client’s willingness to change. The second is the relationship with the therapist. So needless to say, ensuring you get the most out of the experience has a lot to do with the relationship you build with this person. Though you may feel uncomfortable at times during the first session (which is normal), overall you should feel a sense of safety and that this is someone you can imagine building a strong rapport with. Hopefully, the therapist will check in to make sure it feels like a good fit for you. If in the end you leave feeling judged or unsafe, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and find another clinician to work with.

So now hopefully you are feeling a little more ready to embark on that first appointment. Keep an open mind, take a deep breath, and take some risks. Good luck!

Why Do We Attempt to Win at Breakups?

As James Baldwin said: “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”

Sharing your story is an important part of healing (it’s called “”emotional disclosure”” in psychology), whether you share with a friend, journal or therapist. It’s also important to hear these stories because you will see that someone else has been there; someone else has made it through, and so will you.

This week’s roundup of stories…

“But as hooking up rapidly expanded into a series of miniature ­marriages — and miniature divorces made more confounding by social-media omnipresence and cell-phone butt dials — I’ve come to think millennial romances are defined not by their casual beginnings but their disastrous ends. We aren’t the hookup generation; we’re the breakup generation.”

-Maureen O’Connor on the millennial ‘Breakup Generation’ and how we attempt to win at breakups (nymag.com)

“One of the hardest things about being dumped is realizing that the person who dumped you probably isn’t suffering as badly as you are.”

-Karley Sciortino on the pain of being the dumpee in her breakup (vogue.com)

“He’ll come home eventually.
I should Facebook message his sister.
I can’t wait to tell him I might move to San Francisco.
I’m relieved I don’t have to like his douchey friend anymore.”

-Nicole Cifani shares a list of legitimate things that go through your mind after a breakup (medium.com)

If You Can’t Get Over Your Ex, It’s Time To Do A Digital Detox

Dating in the digital age can be a blessing and a curse. It makes meeting people easier. And when you’re in a relationship, social media can be a great way to stay connected with your significant other. Whether you’re sending each other silly snaps or posting cute #tbt’s of your first date on Instagram, your relationship’s online presence will leave behind some sort of footprint. 

When you’re going through a breakup, however, social media can act as a sharp reminder of someone you are trying to forget. You might not even realize it, but h aving such easy access to your ex and their cyber-life may be hindering your ability to move on. 

If you’re feeling stuck after a breakup, it might be time to do a digital detox so that you can stay #onthemend on and offline:

1. Block their number

This is mostly for your own sanity. When you’re used to texting your ex all day, everyday, the silence from your phone post-breakup can be enough to drive you crazy. Some people even suffer from Phantom Vibration or Phantom Ringing Syndrome, which is the perception that one’s mobile phone is vibrating or ringing when it isn’t.

It’s way easier to stop obsessively checking your phone when you’ve eliminated any possibility of receiving a call or text from your ex. The reality is it’s not that hard to find someone’s number again once you’ve blocked it, but it will require an extra step to call versus just a quick thumb tap. Sometimes that’s all you need to realize you’re about to make a mistake.

2. Delete their texts

Stop rereading those texts you sent to each other during your honeymoon phase. It doesn’t help to reminisce on the good times or analyze every word sent back and forth until you’re in a phone-induced coma. Additionally, deleting old texts will keep you from rereading any highly charged post-breakup messages you exchanged (sober or otherwise).

If you’re hanging on to them because you don’t want to delete them, just back them up somewhere else (in iCloud if you’re an iPhone user) and then delete them off your phone. Having them at your fingertips isn’t healthy, just like you wouldn’t walk around with a handful of handwritten love letters 24/7 in the 1950’s. It’s not healthy!

3. Reset your keyboard

Oh, to live in the age of emojis. It’s almost funny that this is a problem these days but alas, it is and we’re here to help because there’s nothing like an ill-timed auto correct to send you into a downward spiral. 

If you don’t want reminders of emoji related jokes and nicknames to pop up while you’re texting, a brilliant Mender let us know you can simply reset the recently used tab on your text keyboard if you’re an iPhone user. 

Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Keyboard Dictionary. And voila! Clean slate!

4. End the Snap streak

Snapchat has definitely taken cyber-stalking to a whole new level (as I recently learned the hard way). Since Snapchat allows you to add a time and geotag to pictures and videos, it’s easy to get paranoid about why your ex was at a bar two cities away at 3AM on a Tuesday. Who is he with? He never stays out this late. Is that a new shirt?!

Another fun lesson I learned from having an ex on Snapchat is how heartbreaking it is to watch your “best friend” status disappear and get replaced with that stupid emoji that suggests they are snapping someone else more than you. (Um excuse me?!)

Also, deleting your ex on Snapchat will make you far less paranoid about whether or not he saw that sexy selfie you posted along with a caption that was specifically targeted at him…*Raise your hand if you’re guilty.*

Avoid the drama and snap out of it!

5. Unfriend on Facebook

Sometimes, changing your relationship status back to single is not enough. Unfriend your ex on Facebook as a safety measure so you can force yourself to stop checking up on their life. If you can’t bring yourself to unfriend, you can leverage Facebook’s Breakup Tools, but beware that it still requires a lot of self restraint that usually doesn’t exist post-breakup.

Creeping on his cyber whereabouts will not help you move on. It will only make you crazy every time he goes on a trip or checks into a fancy restaurant. Plus, there’s nothing more soul-shattering than seeing your ex’s relationship status change to “In A Relationship” when you’re not quite ready to know.

6. Unfollow on Instagram and Twitter

Unfollow your ex’s Instagram and Twitter accounts to avoid seeing reminders that they’re still functional human beings without you. (Yes, I know it’s hard to believe that they didn’t shrivel up and die upon losing you.) 

Although deleting their presence from your timeline is beneficial, it will also take extra willpower to not go out of your way to visit their profile if they’re public. Stay strong and resist the urge, Menders!

7. Reward yourself for progress!

Here’s a little extra tip I came up with that has actually helped me a lot. I modeled it after those reward systems that some stores have, where you get a discount after spending a certain amount of money.

1. Choose a goal item that you would like to purchase. (ex: Concert tickets, new shoes, a vacation, etc.)

2. Open your Mend app and keep track of how long it’s been since your last ex contact (although this timer is meant to count the number of days since you contacted your ex, I also like to use it for the number of days I can go without cyber-stalking).

3. For every day that passes, reward yourself $1 of spending money (This doesn’t have to be an actual dollar, just an amount that you can tally up) For example, 100 days without ex contact = $100.

4. If you contact your ex or check his profile, restart your timer and start your money count again (boo!)

5. Once you’ve reached your goal amount, treat yo-self!

This will give you a positive incentive to keep moving forward because let’s face it, buying those designer boots is all the more satisfying when you know you’ve earned them.

We hope you guys found this guide helpful! What are your great Digital Detox tips? Share with us at hello@letsmend.com.

Letting Go of Your Ex to Build Your Own Happiness

After my breakup, I spent so long questioning how it was fair that my ex’s life seemed to carry on uninterrupted while mine felt like it was falling apart. I read into every little thing that he did or said and when he was silent, my mind started to fill in the blanks. 

But the truth is, we’ll never really get the answers that we’re looking for. We’ll never really know how they’re feeling. And not only is it out of our control, but it’s not our problem. So forget about what your ex is doing. Because whatever it is, it has nothing to do with how they feel about you and everything to do with how they feel about themselves.

Just because your ex seems happy doesn’t mean that they are. Just because your ex seems like they don’t care doesn’t mean that they don’t. Just because your ex has moved on to a new relationship doesn’t mean that it’s any better than yours was. And just because your ex seems like they’ve forgotten about you doesn’t mean that they have.

No matter what your ex says or does to make you think otherwise, you meant something to them. Those feelings don’t just go away overnight. Chances are, they’re hurting just as much as you. But every second that you spend worrying about what your ex may or may not be feeling is a second of your life that you can never get back.

By refusing to let go of the past, you’re refusing to open yourself up to the future that is waiting for you.

I know that it’s hard to accept that the future that you had planned is gone. But if you choose to let go and love yourself, you can have any future that you want. You may not be able to see it right now, but you have to trust that things will work out. And they will.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – André Gide

The universe has given you an opportunity to learn and grow, and even though it hurts, the best thing you can do is embrace it and not try to run from it. So shift your focus back to you. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for exactly who you are. Learn to love yourself in the ways that your ex never could. Create a life that you’re excited to live. And once you do, you’ll find that you stop caring about what your ex is doing.

“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.” – Alexander Graham Bell

At first, I couldn’t imagine a life without my ex. I didn’t even want to. He was my home, my future, my reason for living. The pain was so excruciating that I didn’t know how I was still alive. There were days when I wished that I wasn’t. But now, I can’t imagine a life with him.

The thing is, when we’re hurting after a breakup it’s easy to forget that we were hurting before, too. The grief and withdrawal take over and we convince ourselves that we were so incredibly happy and we’re now destined for a lifetime of misery. But what about the misery that our relationships caused us?

When I find myself feeling lonely and missing my ex, I remind myself that it’s just my primal instincts trying to trick me. Sure, we had some good times together. But mostly, I just felt more lost, scared, empty, and alone than I ever had in my life. And even though I feel sad now, it’s nothing compared to the deep, soul-crushing sadness I felt when I was in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner.

So if you’re fantasizing about a reconciliation, it’s likely that it’s just that – a fantasy.

The reality is, your ex just isn’t the person you wanted them to be. And the sooner you begin to accept that, the sooner you will begin to let go.

Before, I would’ve done anything to get my ex back. Now, I would much rather be alone forever than be with someone who isn’t right for me. And the right person wouldn’t have walked away. We all deserve to be with someone who won’t leave when things get hard. So never forget the reasons that you broke up. If your ex wasn’t capable of putting in the effort in the first place, what makes you think it would be any different the second time around?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

So what can you do when you find yourself permanently stuck in the past, paralyzed by fear of the future and unable to let go of the idea that you’ve lost your only shot at finding happiness?

Be kind to yourself. Your ex might not have died, but you are still grieving a loss. There’s no timeline for grief. Take as long as you need. Remember that everyone’s journey is different and don’t let anyone put pressure on you to “get over it already.” Allow yourself to feel what you have to feel and don’t push yourself too hard. Treat yourself like you would if you were physically sick—get a lot of rest, eat well, take long baths. And when you have days where you feel like you’re going backward, remember that healing isn’t linear.

Date yourself. When my ex left me, I didn’t want to leave the house, let alone go out and do things by myself. But slowly, I started to push myself out of my comfort zone. Now, I do things that I never even dreamt of doing before—like going to the cinema alone, going for lunch alone, going to classes alone and even going traveling alone. And not only do I have a better idea of what I want out of life, but I’m also more confident than I’ve ever been. Write a list of the things you miss about being in a relationship and how to cultivate those things on your own, and I guarantee that you’ll find there’s nothing your ex can give you that you can’t give yourself.

Try new things. This breakup is a chance for you to rebuild your self-esteem and rediscover who you are outside of a relationship. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Think of the things you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time/money/courage to do and do them. For me, these were going on a yoga retreat, joining a meditation group, and starting a blog. Once you open yourself up to new experiences and connections, you’ll realize that life is about so much more than just a relationship.

Keep yourself busy. Even though the idea of doing anything other than moping around in your pajamas watching Netflix, eating junk, and wallowing in self-pity seems impossible, there comes a time when you have to force yourself to start living again. So make plans with friends, join a group or a class, sign up for a course, start a new hobby, or book a trip. Because when you have things to do and look forward to, you don’t have the time or energy to worry about what your ex is doing.

Learn how to be single. You will meet someone new, but only when the time is right. And if you’re going on dates out of loneliness or boredom, then you’re probably not ready. When the infatuation wears off or it doesn’t work out, those feelings of dissatisfaction and emptiness will only come creeping back in. But if you learn how to be happy on your own, no one will be able to take that away from you.

Plant Medicine For Post-Breakup Wellness

There are innumerable healing plants on this earth, and we have access to so many of them. The power of plants can offer a boost to your mood, immune system, digestive system – all the systems! 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate plant medicine into your mending process:

1. Add fresh lemon juice to hot water in the morning – This is a great way to cleanse + hydrate your system. And it’s actually alkalizing! Although we think of lemons as acidic, in the body lemon juice can actually have the opposite effect by balancing out the acid and bringing us closer to homeostasis. Try 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice in 10 ounces of hot water in the morning. If you are feeling brave (or cold!) add some cayenne to kick up your metabolism.

2. To enhance your mood, make sure you are getting you daily dose of beneficial bacteria – Kombucha, a fermented tea tonic, is an excellent probiotic. Because of the wonderful interaction the probiotics have in the gut, kombucha helps soothe the nervous system, fighting anxiety and easing depression. Lavender kombucha is especially soothing. You can find them at your local health store, or make your own! Here’s my recipe.

3. Crush up mint and add it to hot water – Mint is another powerful, easy to use herb that eases your digestive system. Fresh spearmint and peppermint are my favorites. Mint soothes and cools the respiratory system, eases a sore throat, and is a refreshing natural stimulant. You can buy mint tea at the store as well, but be sure to check the ingredients. You can easily buy mint with added black or green tea, so be sure to know if you are getting caffeine or not!

4. Add chopped ginger or turmeric to hot water – They are both known to be great anti-inflammatory roots, and since inflammation is the number one symptom of almost every ailment, these are invaluable! If you want a recipe for a strong healing broth with these roots, here is my recipe for a delicious winter root broth.

5. Kava kava is a wonderfully potent sleep aid! – Brew this tea 5-15 minutes in hot water, add some honey, and feel the tranquil, euphoric effects of this Polynesian root. Kava kava is not to be fooled with – or consumed during pregnancy. If you find yourself drinking kava every day for a 2-3 months, take at least a few weeks off to give your liver a rest. I love this herb so much I have created my own kava dreamtime brew you can try. 

When we use plant medicine regularly we can truly experience the benefits of herbs as part of our daily health ritual. Happy healing!

It’s Here: What to Expect This Breakup Season

You may remember this chart we showed you right before the dreaded “Turkey Drop” and the spike in break ups that happens before the holidays. Well, we’re headed for the second seasonal spike in break ups that happens after Valentine’s Day and around Spring Break. It’s possible Valentine’s Day was a wake up call that something was off with the relationship. Or, maybe people in school want to be unattached for Spring Break. Whatever the reason, there’s definitely something in the air.

The good news is that it seems we still prefer to handle break ups in person. Hopefully there won’t be too many heartbreaks delivered over text, though it does provide good fodder for the popular Instagram account @textsfromyourex. According to a study by Yougov , three out of four Americans surveyed would break up in person, while the rest would break up over a phone call. Only 1 in 4 would prefer a text message break up.

The same study also took a look at the various forms of social support Americans seek after a break up, with music being a big source of support. 1 in 3 Americans listen to music for support and it’s even higher (48%!) for Millennials. Throwing ourselves into our work is another important outlet for Americans (42% of Millennials throw themselves into work).

And then, of course, there’s the post-break up call, which we’ve probably all been on the receiving end of at least once in our lives. Who do we call? Women, mostly! According to the study, 27% call a female friend, 17% call mom, 10% call a sibling and 10% call a male friend. At the very bottom of the phone tree, unsurprisingly, is an ex/old flame at 1%. 

I have to say, to me, the in-person and phone data signals to me that as humans we still understand the gravity of break ups and how painful they can be. That’s comforting. And I couldn’t agree more on the music as medicine front. Adele on repeat.

Post-Breakup Trips Five Menders Have Taken

At Mend, we believe that a change of scenery is a great cure for heartbreak. Whether you’re going to a neighboring city or heading across the globe, traveling can help you beat those post-breakup blues! Today, five Menders are sharing how their adventures helped them.

“I’m going to Boston tomorrow. That’s where I went to school, and that was a place where I really flourished and grew. I’m going to get a break from LA because I’ve never really known LA without my ex since I met him as soon as I moved here. I’m going to Boston to both remind myself who I was before him and also connect with people in a place where I knew I was happy.”

-Akanksha, Mender

“After my ex and I split, I booked a solo trip to the Sonoran Desert Preserve outside of Phoenix to clear my head. I was able to hike for miles without seeing anyone, lay by the pool and journal, and think about what I value and what I really need out of a relationship next time. Travel is always my go-to for mending. There’s something about being out of your element that makes you feel both vulnerable and strong. It reminds you that there is so much out there to see and do, and so many more people in the world you’ve yet to meet.”

-Jenna, Mender

“I went to Vegas, Denver, Palm Springs, and Lake Arrowhead. I’m road-tripping Big Sur next week with my dad. Thailand in May and Seychelles in October!”

-Alexa, Mender

“After one particular breakup, I made it a point to visit all the places that reminded me of my ex — Missouri (where he was born), San Diego (where he was stationed in the Navy), and Chicago (his favorite city). I visited these places with either friends or family and made some incredible memories. Now, when I think of those places, I no longer associate them with my ex. Instead, I remember the amazing times I spent there with the people I love most.”

-Kate, Team Mend

“I’ve been on so many post-breakup trips…big and small. When I was younger, these trips weren’t extravagant. Sometimes it just meant taking a new bus route to a new neighborhood, or taking the train to a different stop and walking a new street. In recent years, I’ve taken more adventurous trips after breakups, including to Japan and Mexico. But the idea is still the same. I find a change of scenery is really helpful when you’re stuck in cyclical thinking patterns – the newness forces you to focus on what’s in front of you, instead of what’s in your head. That’s such a relief after a breakup.”

-Elle, Team Mend

Why People Leave Your Life Once They’ve Taught You All You Need to Know

When my ex-boyfriend of three and a half years told me he wasn’t in love with me anymore, I felt my ribcage crack into a million pieces. I could almost see it breaking, like a China Doll crashing into the ground in slow-motion.

I thought I would never breathe again without him, and for a while I practically didn’t. I held my breath, letting things happen and life pass me by. Nothing was the same. More importantly, I wasn’t the same.

But eventually, I learned to live in this new world without oxygen. I grieved him, and then I started to advance my life again by pushing myself harder than I ever had.

I even met someone new. We were together for a couple of months, but then once again, I learned to wave goodbye, this time more gracefully than the last.

Why was I able to let go so easily this time? Well, it’s because I realized something very important after reading this passage by author R.M. Drake:

“All the people we have met and all the people we have yet to meet, are meant to exist so we can find them. So we both could exchange a set of directions, which will guide us to the next place we are meant to go.”

“And as we go, we must always believe that maybe this could be our last stop. That maybe the next person we meet will not have a set of directions, that maybe they will have more, and that maybe they will offer us something beautiful enough to inspire us to stay.”

This quote gave me the profound realization that people are brought into our lives to teach us valuable lessons. But like in school, once you’ve learned all you can from one teacher, you have to say goodbye and move on to the next one.

When someone can no longer grow with you, he or she stunts your growth. And when this person leaves your life, it’s easy to only focus on the pain from his or her absence. But if you take a step back, you’ll see that this person leaving was for the best.

I witnessed this with my own eyes when I decided to catch up with my ex after almost a full year of not seeing him.

Seeing him made me aware that I had truly outgrown him in every way. From all of my experiences without him, I learned a laundry list of important lessons and values.

To name a few, I learned independence from being single. I learned patience from dating someone who was struggling with demons. I learned about different cultures from traveling.

On top of this, from my breakup, I learned that you never know when you’ll learn your last lesson from your partner. So you should cherish your time with him or her while you have it.

I used each day after my relationship ended as a springboard to move forward. But in all this time apart, my ex had stood completely still. He had learned nothing. He was the same man he was a year ago. I felt like Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” when she stumbled across the Tin Man begging for some oil while stuck in the road.

I actually felt bad for my ex. I grew up, and he… well, he grew muscles.

I allowed myself to learn from every mistake and evolve into something greater than I had ever imagined. My ambition took me to 15 countries. I have a passport stamp to show for every time I got hurt.

I might not have gone anywhere if I had remained glued to my ex’s stagnant side. He would have weighed me down.

Shortly after catching up with my ex, another ex re-entered my life in a different way. Not so surprisingly, the same thing was happening to him: He was also still doing exactly what he was doing when I was with him. He had become another Tin Man stuck in the yellow brick road of life.

Honestly, it is pretty surprising how little these men had to show for their time since our relationships.

Yet, luckily for me, these moments of reconnection with my exes made me realize that people are removed from your life not as some sort of punishment like I initially thought, but because they are simply not built to go where you are going in life.

When someone leaves, don’t question it because ‘the one’ would never leave you. There’s always a bigger picture to life that we can’t see just yet.

It’s good to reflect on a relationship after it ends, but sometimes endings really aren’t your fault. Sometimes it really is just time for someone to leave once they’ve taught you what you need to know. But don’t fight someone leaving; just embrace it, and let go of the people who are not meant to stay.

I couldn’t see it at the time, but during my relationships, my exes had become dead weight to me. Perhaps they got smoked out from all of my fire.

Like releasing sand bags from a hot air balloon, my exes had to go so I could ascend to the person I was meant to become. I had to literally face my past in order to understand my present.

Looking back now, I have never been more grateful for the temporary agony in my life that led me to my greatest pleasures.

Heartbreak Hygge: How This 5 Step Closet Cleanse Can Help You Heal

After going through a major transition, it’s a great idea to take a good look at your space and reclaim it. Your closet is a really fun place to start.

Many Feng Shui experts say that our closets can hold stagnant energy so getting this energy cleared is an important ritual. Some people believe that your closet is apparently a reflection of what’s going on in your life. So, what does your closet look like?

Just like the important lesson conveyed in Clueless all those years ago, a closet cleanse may help bring balance, peace and tranquility to not only the way you present yourself, but your actual energy too. It helps clear the ‘clutter’ of what’s no longer working for you, which is why a breakup can be an ideal catalyst to do a closet cleanse. We think Mari Kondo would agree.

Here are 5 steps to carrying out your own closet cleanse:

1. Take Everything Out

Take everything out and decide what stays and what goes. If you’re keeping any of your ex’s clothes for memories, even though it might feel like the hardest thing right now, letting go of these is a symbol that you’re ready to let go emotionally. So that t-shirt you like to sleep in? Try and make peace with saying goodbye to it. It’s no longer serving you and it’s time to allow in the ‘new’.

When it comes to your other clothes, be honest about whether you’re hoarding any ‘just in case’. If you haven’t worn it in the past year, the chances are you probably never will, so bite the bullet and donate the things you really won’t wear to charity or even organize a clothes swap. A nice way to feel even happier with letting go of old items is knowing they’ll be going to a good home, like Dress For Success or Goodwill.

2. Keep What You Love (And What You Need)

Only keep items you really feel good in. A good test of whether to keep or throw/donate your clothes is to try them on and see how they make you feel. If something doesn’t make you want to walk out of the house right now and rock it, then it might be worth reconsidering. (Plus, think of all the space you’ll be creating for some new pieces!) Of course, some things like uniforms or work clothes may be the exception – so keep what you absolutely need.

3.  Cleanse The Energy

Safely light some sage and smudge your empty closet to remove any negative energy. Smudging is where you move the smoldering sage stick in a clockwise direction around the space. Once you have neatly re-organized all the clothes you want to keep you can also smudge them with sage too.

4. Crystalize It

If you’re into crystals, an optimum one to place in your closet is selenite because it removes energy blocks and helps keeps the energy clear and balanced.

5. Get Organized

As the cherry on top, it’s useful to think about how you want to organize your clothes from a seasonal perspective. So if it’s spring/summer, perhaps invest in some storage containers to pack away your bulkier clothing and then you can swap them over accordingly.

This closet cleanse is all about creating as much ‘space’ as possible and practically, it makes getting dressed every day a much more pleasant experience if you love what you have and it’s all accessible. Just try and avoid the trap of stuffing everything under your bed.

We’d love to hear how your closets look right now – are they cramped? do they need to be cleansed? Share your tips in the comment below if you have ideas we haven’t shared here!

If Your Ex Is Funny, It May Take Longer to Move On

Who doesn’t love someone with a sense of humor? According to research published in Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, when we do stop loving partners with this prized trait, moving on can be no joke.

Researchers surveyed 392 participants on their relationships, their emotions after a breakup, and how they coped. Women reported taking more time to get over a partner with a great sense of humor. After the breakup, the same women were also more likely to make contact with their ex, as opposed to those who reported having less jocular partners. 

Meanwhile, men reported experiencing more sexual frustration than women. That women took longer to move on stands as seemingly odd, given that women are more likely to be the ones to end a relationship, all around the board. Likewise, women reported feeling happier after breakups – even the same ones who took longer to move on.

It makes sense that a sense of humor is a prized trait in a romantic partner: it can be a great proxy for other valuable traits such as friendliness, open mindedness, humility, and even resilience against tough times. So if you’re having a hard time moving on from your funny guy/gal ex, know that you’re not alone.

Four Ways I Helped Myself Heal After a Breakup

Everyone deals with breakups differently, but here are 5 ways I helped myself after my breakup. I hope they may inspire or encourage you on your own journey.

1) Letting family and friends double as therapists 

For some people, family and friends are going to be the most important aspect in getting over your break-up. They will be the best support system you can ever ask for. They will tell you the truth—even if it hurts—and be there to wipe the tears. What is amazing about confiding in family and friends is that their advice is always coming from a desire to help you.

In a relationship, we tend to have our love blinders on. We sometimes block out the bad things and make excuses for our significant other. Our family and friends can rip off those love blinders and help us realize our self-worth and what we truly deserve in a relationship. I have found a whole new respect for my family and friends. They have continually been there for me while I’ve ranted and cried (never once giving me the impression that they were bored of hearing the same old thing). During a time where it seems like your world is crumbling, your support system will be there to mend back together those broken bits and pieces to make you feel whole again.

2) Doing a little spring cleaning

This means physically and mentally. If you’ve been in a long term relationship, then you probably have tons of kissing pictures hanging around your place, and little trinkets from your travels together. Advice: take it all, every last bit, and toss it in a huge bin ($8 at Target, you’re welcome). Place that bin in the garage and never look at it again (or at least until you’re ready). Personally, my room was like a shrine to my relationship. When it ended, the second I got rid of everything that reminded me of him (and even spent the time to do a little re-decorating), it made me feel liberated. Also, it helped to not have physical reminders of our relationship taunting me in my own personal space.

The spring cleaning philosophy extends to your head, too. Social media plays a huge part in our daily lives and allows us to know what our friends are doing on the regular. If you have your ex on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc… DELETE THEM. I know this is easier said than done. Trust me, I do. It took me a month and a half to finally pull the plug, but it has been one of the best ways for me to move on. You know the phrase “out of sight, out of mind?” That’s what I’m getting at.

When going through a breakup it’s normal to be constantly thinking about our ex. What are they doing every day? Who are they hanging out with? Are they thinking about me? It becomes a constant mind game of confusing and open-ended questions. Curiosity is normal, but when these thoughts turn into an obsession, there’s a problem. If you’re connected in any way online, then you are bound to check what they’re up to and get upset that they are doing things that you both used to do together. The only way to avoid these feelings is to not give them the opportunity to arise.

3) Focusing on my happiness

I hate the phrase “focus on yourself,” because it seems superficial and selfish. Instead, “focus on your happiness.” When in a relationship, it’s easy to lose ourselves. We begin to make our decisions based on the happiness of others instead of our own. This becomes an issue because if we are so busy making someone ELSE happy… because then who is making us happy? We have to make happiness for ourselves, and breakups are a brilliant reminder of that. 

Personally, my happiness comes from friends and enjoying new experiences. Since my breakup, I have been to Vegas (so cliché for a newly single girl, I know), been going out with my friends, and focusing on my blog. My ex-boyfriend didn’t like doing any of these things so I had sacrificed some of my happiness in order to appease his. Now I see that that wasn’t okay. Why do we limit ourselves in order to please others? Rediscover the person you were before the relationship. This is a time where it’s perfectly acceptable to make ourselves the priority instead of others.

4) Holding out hope

There is someone out there for everyone! A breakup does not mean you are going to be single forever. It means the universe has something bigger and better in store for you. What I have realized most deeply is the need to trust the timing of your life. There is a reason for everything! Even though I felt as if my life was over (so dramatic, I know), I never once doubted that there wasn’t someone better out there for me. Being hopeful is the best thing you can do right now for yourself. When you’re feeling skeptical that you’ll find someone, remember this: even the weirdest people in the world find lovers! There really is a lid for every pot. Constantly remind yourself that this breakup happened for a reason. From here, all we can do is choose to use it as a learning experience.

Are You In A Back Burner Relationship?

Backburner relationships are something many of us have probably experienced on some level.

The scientific description of this is “a person to whom one is not presently committed, and with whom one maintains some degree of communication, in order to keep or establish the possibility of future romantic and/or sexual involvement.”

So those situations where our heart isn’t 100% all in, but it makes us feel good or safe in the moment knowing that relationship or fling is a potential option.

Backburners have fascinated many people who have delved deeper into how it works and the motivations behind it. A study was carried out on backburner relationships by author, Jayson Dibble, an assistant professor of communication at Hope College. He said that a backburner isn’t just someone who you think about every now and then. It’s someone who you actually communicate with. So if there’s a technical way to look at it, the “what-if” people only become backburners if you actually reach out to them.

The study also revealed that social media played the biggest part in backburner relationships, with Facebook being the most popular way to make some sort of contact, at 37%.

When it comes to keeping people on the backburner, there is cause to say that from a primal perspective, exploring all the potential people who could be available to you is natural. But then, having one long-term partner helps with offspring survival and represents unity between two people. The commitment offers benefits, in exchange for letting go of other possibilities. It’s a trade-off of sorts.

However this study proved the evolutionary theory to not quite align with what was going on today. The study had 374 undergrads self-report how many backburners they had, how they spoke to them (flirty or platonic) and how they kept in touch. Those who were currently in relationships also completed assessments of their investment in and commitment to their relationships and rated how appealing they thought their alternatives were.

Surprisingly, there was no significant difference between the number of backburners kept by people in relationships, and the number kept by single people. Dibble’s theory on this is that it’s easy to like someone’s picture or post a comment. It comes with little risk but it still fulfils a need of keeping you in their mind and sparking conversation. Plus, it can seem harmless talking to someone on Facebook when you’re in a relationship. Going to meet them for coffee or dinner is a different story.

So it’s really about maximizing the benefits and minimizing costs, something that Austin, Adam Redd West proposed in his 2013 University of Texas dissertation.

This isn’t a completely new concept either though so we can’t totally blame social media. The old phrase that you’ve probably heard was to ‘keep someone in the wings’ or in your ‘little black book’. The world of online and social media his now just made it easier than ever and with what might seem like far less risk to actually reach out.

Dibble is keen to do further research into backburner relationships to see exactly what people say to keep potential people on the backburner and what happens if you only make contact less often like once a year – would that still be classed as a backburner?

We feel that as social media evolves even more this backburner trend will definitely continue to grow too. The question is, what’s the boundary?

The Number One Rule About Attraction

There’s this thing in relationship science that we consider to be the most important reason behind attraction. Let’s call it the Attraction Rule.

I want you to think of someone you are or have been attracted to. Just one person. Got it? Now we both know there are a lot of people you could have chosen, but you didn’t, you chose the one. I’m willing to bet that you thought of this person not because they are physically attractive, although I know you think they are. You chose this person because you’ve shared a laugh with them, and they’ve smiled at you or something you said. You like their smile. It gives you the warm fuzzies or whatever.

We Are Attracted To What We Find Rewarding

The Attraction Rule is this: we are attracted to what we find rewarding to us. That doesn’t just go for people, but also your choice of hobbies and reading material. The reason you’ve continued reading this article is that you need to know what the attraction rule is because the answer will give you a personal reward: a satiated curiosity. But what exactly do we consider to be rewards?

Direct Rewards

There are direct rewards, which are benefits someone else chooses to give, though they could withhold them. The 5 Love Languages are all direct rewards: physical contact, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of servicem and quality time. These can all be given out in small amounts from people you don’t know very well and will still make you feel those warm fuzzies we talked about earlier. There’s also interest, as in, if you find this person interesting, that interest is rewarding to you, like there’s a mystery you need to solve, a question you need to answer. There’s also approval, but I don’t think I have to explain how rewarding it is to feel approved by or interesting to someone else. Then there’s the two most effective: laughter and smiles. Seeing someone physically attractive already activates a reward center of your brain, but it activates it even more so when they smile. And when the two of you share a laugh, forget it. You’re hooked and already mentally stalking them. Seeing a cute person smile activates one reward center, but laughing at something they say activates several.

Indirect Awards

Then there are indirect rewards, which have more to do with the circumstances rather than how you interact together. These are things someone else can’t really control. Examples of this would be having the same name, birthday, or associating them with a place that you like. These are rewarding merely because they offer you a sense of connection to them without having to actually connect to them. Physical attraction also falls into this category. For example, you subconsciously (okay, maybe not so subconsciously) find their appearance rewarding because they would make cute babies with you. This is indirect because how their face looks is out of their control and would benefit your future offspring, not necessarily you. There are plenty of people we find physically attractive without actually being attracted to them. The reason you chose that one person earlier is because they gave you direct rewards, which are much more emotionally salient than simply seeing an attractive person.

How Attraction Relates To Your Breakup

What does any of this have to do with mending? A lot! There are reasons why we’re still attached to our exes after a breakup. The Attraction Rule is just one of those things. Now that you know how it works, you can analyze what it was about your ex that you found rewarding. Those things used to activate your reward centers, so part of why you’re still holding onto your ex is because you want to continue feeling those rewards. The good news is that there’s a whole world out there ready to give you all sorts of rewards too. The key is to find what rewards you associate with your ex (seeing their smile, physical touch, and approval are common ones) and go get it from somewhere else. Granted, at first it won’t compare to the reward you felt from your ex. No one smiles quite like them or hugs you just the way you like to be hugged, but the important thing is that you try. Get used to your friends’ smiles. Get used to your families’ hugs. And get a lot of them. Start to associate these rewards with other things and people, rather than your ex.

Finding Other Ways To Feel Rewarded

Right now you feel deprived. Your main source of rewards may not be around anymore, but that doesn’t mean you need to be deprived of them altogether. There are plenty of other sources, be it people (they give love, smiles, laughs), pets (who give love, unconditional approval), plants (service, gifts, interest), or projects (interest, quality time). All of these can be rewarding! Try and you’ll see for yourself.

Being In Love With An Alcoholic

I carried my love letter around for weeks before I steeled myself to read it to Matt. We’d fought earlier that day, and on our walk to the train he stopped short in front of an Irish pub.

“We definitely shouldn’t go in there,” he said. “Not even one drink to smooth things over.”

Matt and I spent a lot of time in bars. We drank Fernet with beer chasers at the dives near our office and stiff martinis at the most elegant restaurants downtown. I liked to see us through the eyes of the other patrons, who knew nothing of his crumbling relationship with his girlfriend in Los Angeles; I imagined them grinning when he fixed my wayward collar or nodding knowingly when I plucked the tomatoes off his half of the salad.

From the beginning, I noticed something unusual about his drinking, not so much the volume he drank but the restless way he fumbled with his glass between sips. We worked at the same startup, and one night a few of us stayed late, listening to music and draining our office’s secret whiskey stash. Eventually everyone tapered off and we found ourselves alone in the doorway, close enough for his scruff to tickle my face.

I explained that I had never kissed anyone with a beard before — “I’m from the East Coast!” — and he wrapped his hands around my waist gently, like he knew he needed to be careful with me. Whatever reservations I had were no match for the flicker of possibility, now coursing through my body, that 25 years of being alone had led me to this one person.

We spoke in confessions, like a pair of teenage pen pals reading their letters out loud. He left surprises next to my keyboard — lottery tickets, a handwritten composition asserting the pantsuit’s sex appeal, and a page he’d ripped from a magazine profile of the writer Malcolm Lowry. (Matt had underlined the phrase “He never met a woman without sizing her up as a typist and as an editor” and commented: “That’s what I did with you.”)

From our adjacent desk chairs we scoured Craigslist for apartments around the world, dreaming up bohemian adventures in Joshua Tree and South America. I didn’t know how to show him that our real life together could be as magical as any of these fantasies, but I tried. On his birthday, I handed out orange hats and fake mustaches, transforming our whole department into a tribe of mini Matts.

Alcoholics are liars. I don’t mean that they’re conniving or evil, just that they have a well-developed habit of adjusting facts to conceal their disease. It’s barely noticeable at first: a fudged detail here, a different word there. “I wouldn’t say that” subs in for “I didn’t say that,” as if their intentions have more weight than what actually happened. The empty promises begin to mount.

At some point you follow their lead, testing the waters with tiny tweaks of the truth before building up to more elaborate performances. “I totally forgot that gin gives me a headache,” I’d say, gesturing to my barely touched drink when my body, unaccustomed to the slow and deliberate poisoning, needed a night off.

Then there was the time I signed for flowers from his girlfriend. As I jogged up the steps to our office building, a deliveryman approached me with a tasteful bunch of calla lilies. Paralyzed, I stood outside with the blooms against my nose, sucking in big mouthfuls of air and breathing them back out until I could force my face into a smile.

“Looks like somebody got a bro-quet,” I announced, finally opening the door.

Scarier still is when the lies stop altogether. Matt’s legs — long, athletic legs, the only ones I’ve ever struggled to keep pace with — startled me awake at 8 a.m. one Saturday. The shakiness I’d attributed to his fidgety nature was actually a full-fledged withdrawal symptom.

A few minutes later, he walked in from the kitchen holding a beer and reached across me for the bottle opener on the nightstand. I felt a perverse sense of pride, knowing he must really trust me if he didn’t have anything to hide. Mostly, I just wanted his pain to go away. He crawled back under the covers, resting the bottle on his chest, and I pressed my lips to the semicolon tattoo stamped inside his arm.

It was clear that Matt was powerless over his addiction, but I wasn’t yet aware of another important truth: that the people who love addicts are powerless too. Being close to someone so fundamentally sad doesn’t drain you of hope; on the contrary, it forces you to adopt an exhausting optimism. You have to commit, above all else, to the delusion that your relationship is exceptional. If you try a little harder — if you do just a little bit better — then maybe your love will be enough.

I was sure things would improve after Matt broke up with his girlfriend and I changed jobs. By then, reading, eating, and even laundry had become centrally defined by his presence or absence. As soon as we left each other’s company, we’d hop on the phone for six additional hours. The more we talked, the harder it was to hang up. The longer we spent together, the more insufficient that time felt.

Even our shared wanderlust had become a point of contention. “This is why I’m moving to Mexico,” Matt would declare in the middle of an argument. The ugliest parts of ourselves — the parts we’d never wanted to show anyone — always seemed to be in collusion, conspiring over some dark plan.

One night, we were having a nice dinner and got into a minor disagreement, about politics of all things. Matt went outside to smoke a cigarette, and I noticed that his wine glass was empty, while mine was still half full.

“The meal doesn’t end when you finish your drink,” I said to no one in particular.

When he called the next morning to make amends, I could already hear the liquor in his words, so muted and distant. I told him we couldn’t see each other anymore and he didn’t put up much of a fight. He just repeated, again and again, “I’m so bummed.” After everything we’d been through, the fact that my heartbreak was a mere blip, barely felt or articulated at one table in one restaurant in the northeast corner of San Francisco, struck me as the cruelest part of all.

I’ve always believed that giving up on people is the province of the weak — that maturity means staying on good terms with all your exes and repairing every damaged friendship. But if Matt’s problem is that he can’t have just one drink, mine is that I can’t have just one drink with him. Even if our separation is for the best, I refuse to mark the time apart by celebratory milestones. How many months since we’ve spoken, how many weeks since I’ve cried…

The months do pass, though. Thinking of him now feels like returning to a place where I used to live: part of me never left at all, and the other part is further away than ever. The distance becomes its own sort of adventure, memories overlapping on the present without warning. Whatever it is I’ve come back to look for disappears behind the horizon, just out of reach.

A sudden sweet taste in my mouth will remind me of Matt buying ice cream for the homeless guy on his corner. (“I want to eat it with my fingers,” the man had said when Matt offered him a spoon.) Sometimes I stare at a sentence too closely and it becomes the soft skin of his bicep — as if he invented punctuation when he got that silly, precious tattoo I would have hated on anyone else.

Once I made the mistake of replaying an old message he’d left me. I thought his voice was like a time capsule that I could dig up and revisit whenever I wanted, but the contours were off and the vowels sounded distorted.

And of course, going anywhere near our old bars feels wrong. If I do get close enough to look inside, I can’t help scanning the room to identify which two seats we would choose. I’ll see a girl picking at a coaster anxiously and think back to the night when I laid the creased pages of that letter on a barstool — full of nerves, because I had so much to lose — and read to Matt about a perfect day.

It was the end of winter break, my final year of college. Right when I was supposed to head back to school, a huge blizzard hit and grounded every flight east of Chicago. My sister and I walked through the deserted streets of downtown Baltimore until we chanced upon the only open establishment.

I told Matt how the owner had led us to a booth in the back corner, where he brought us hot toddies and sandwiches. We’d talked about baseball, books, our family — it didn’t really matter, and neither did the snowstorm or my looming graduation and the giant question marks that came after. In that moment, as I felt the warmth returning to my fingers and the tip of my nose, the whole world was contained in my sister’s head, resting gently against my shoulder.

Matt’s hand started shaking so I reached across the damp wood surface between our coasters to steady it.

“Do you understand what I’m saying?” I whispered. “I could sit next to you forever.”

Learning Not to Give Until You’re Gone

I recently reread the children’s classic, The Giving Tree. Different than I remembered, it is so melancholy. It hit much closer to home than it ever had in the past.

I’m trudging my way through a breakup right now – aren’t we all though, in some way? It was pretty serious. The worst I’ve been through to date, at least. After nearly three years, a shared apartment, a cross-country move, and a ring design where a family diamond was about to be nestled, we were finally honest enough—I guess I should say HE was finally honest enough, to admit that he didn’t ever want children. If I recall correctly, his exact words were “If I’m not hungry now, how should I know if I’ll want pizza later?” Let’s be clear on one thing, my future offspring are going to be quirky, no doubt, but they are not pizza. 

The more I’ve dissected the words, actions, looks and feelings; I’ve realized the pizza-babies were not our demise. I had been dulling myself. I was under valued, under appreciated and used up. I was the Giving Tree. I gave and gave and took care of everything and made sure that his needs were met, and he was happy, satisfied, fulfilled and at peace. Meanwhile, he, knowingly or unknowingly, took my apples, my branches and my trunk, leaving the tattered, used, scraps of my soul, of my heart, of me. I can’t blame him. I gave it all willingly – everything down to my last shred of self worth. 

I think for a long time I believed that I had to prove myself as a lover and as a partner. I gave to prove I was worth being with. I gave in return for companionship because I believed that was necessary. The more I gave away, the more that was true. There is a lot of talk recently about settling, or not settling more appropriately. For me, and maybe for some of you, I felt like I was the one who was being ‘settled on’. I think for many of us it is about not being afraid to admit what we are worth and what will keep us whole. 

In the weeks since the break up and the break down, I’ve had the people who are closest to me in my life say things like, “You’re back!” and “I’m so glad you’re here again!” as if I just returned from a 3 year trek through the most remote parts of Northern Russia. Had I known, had I understood that I was living in a wasteland, holding together fractured pieces of myself with “good enough” plans and hopes that he would change and dreams (who am I kidding, I had thrown dreams out the window long ago), I would have been sprinting as fast as I could to get back.

Isn’t that always the worst? When others see you so clearly from the outside but you’re too close, too deep, too lost to make sense of it. Nevertheless, here I am – back – and learning that every apple given needs some water on the roots and sunshine on the leaves in return; learning that no two people need to settle on each other. I’m relieved that I didn’t get what I thought I deserved.

More than ever now, I don’t think I believe in soul mates and Mr. Right and one true love. I have hope that another person exists who will enhance the very best parts of me. And with that person, I will thrive, shine brightly and challenge myself daily to show off that sparkle a little more. There is someone out there who I will give to, not because he asks or expects it, but because he builds me up so completely and gives me so much that I have a surplus to share. I don’t have to be reduced to a withering stump again, and knowing that helps me grow and rebuild. Believing that is helping me to mend.

A Simple Tip to Naturally Relieve the Stress of a Breakup

Jo Marchant’s latest book explores how our minds exert influence over our bodies, and how we can use that to our advantage in the healing process. In an interview with NPR , she elaborated on what she’s learned, including one simple tip that can help when you’re feeling stressed or anxious: mindfulness.

On the power of mindfulness, she says: “There have been hundreds of studies on mindfulness now, and there’s very good evidence that it reduces stress and anxiety, and that it reduces symptoms such as chronic pain and fatigue. So that’s very well shown now in the analysis of lots of different studies, and that’s in healthy people but also in people with depression or people with serious illness.”

She continues: “With a stress response, the brain and the body are influencing each other in both directions, so if we see a danger then that’s going to make us feel stressed and one of the follow-ons from that is that our breathing is going to speed up… And, equally, if you calm the breathing down, you’re kind of forcing your body into a more relaxed state and you will then experience probably fewer negative thoughts as a result.”

Time to take a deep breath.

Fighting with Your Partner? Blame Hormones, According to Research

Hormones are the masters of our lives. Research has shown that when we bond with another person, changes to our physiology and our behavior start to take place. Researchers based in Israel designed an experiment  to better understand how hormones impact romantic relationships, and more specifically, what happens to your hormones during a fight. They compared levels of several key hormones in 50 people in relationships and 40 singles. Hormone levels were compared before and after the couples were asked to talk about something they’d had disagreements about before.

The key hormonal players here are oxytocin, testosterone, cortisol, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). What the researchers found was that when one partner had high oxytocin, the other partner tended to be empathetic during conflict. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, so that makes sense. It worked negatively with DHEAS (an important precursor to all the sex hormones): the more it was present, the more friction the fight took on. Testosterone, the male sex hormone, was a little different: the fight only became more hostile if both partners had elevated levels of it, and the fight de-escalated only if partners both had low testosterone. This kind of relationship was also true for cortisol, the so-called stress hormone: the fight would only intensify when both partners were high in cortisol and cool off only when both partners were low.

The bottom line: there’s a feedback loop that starts to happen when you’re with your partner as your biologies and behaviors adapt to one another, especially in the early stages of a relationship. Whether it’s an upward or downward spiral– well, that’s up to you. Here are some suggestions on how to dial down your stress hormones, which may help you fight less often (mindbodygreen.com).

Dana Claudat On How Feng Shui Can Help Post-Breakup

Dana Claudat is a Feng Shui expert who helps people design their dream lives by de-cluttering their physical and mental space. Her mission is to help clients get more of what they want from life. In our conversation, she shared how clearing her space became an invaluable part of her post-breakup mending process.

If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?

“It may seem like the feeling lasts forever but it doesn’t. And the less you dwell and the more you focus on self love the more beneficial the experience is.”

What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?

“I realized how much I feared loving people and things too much because they could end. Then once I experienced true heartbreak with a death in my family that was unexpected, I learned that I was holding myself back from human experiences by fearing the inevitable end of things. Endings don’t have to be endings. In Buddhist philosophy, no life ever really ends and we are always connected, all of us.”

What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?

“Flower essences have been invaluable in the past, from Alexis Smart Flower Remedies. Space clearing at home has also been invaluable – burning sage, cedar, salt… all big in letting go of entangled energies. I also would dive into my spiritual practice with double the intensity and that always has made the process one of real personal evolution. Clearing clutter is also a big thing!”

Thinking back to breakups you’ve had, did you have any breakup vices (checking your ex’s Insta, etc) and how do you conquer them?

“No. When I’ve given all I can and I’m sure things are over there’s nothing curious about looking at these things for me, luckily.”

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?

“The real love is always and forever.”

What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?

“The infinite possibilities of love.”

What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?

“Right now, my very popular and dear to my heart life de-cluttering Feng Shui Camp is getting started for Spring Cleaning and that is very exciting as it creates an energetic fresh start for everyone in the group, including many who are holding onto heartbreak. I’m most looking forward to the Love Camp (Feng Shui for Love everywhere!) that’s coming this Summer and it’s a new one opening this year! Love is really everything!!!”

The Guide To Mending From Heartbreak

We’ve overhauled our skincare routine, our work arrangements, and our diets, all in the name of self-care, but when’s the last time you revamped how you recover from a breakup? At Mend, we’ve tapped into the science of heartbreak to create a holistic approach to mending. You don’t “just get over a breakup,” you work through it. Our mission is to help you find a healthier way to recover from heartbreak free of timelines and judgments.

In this guide, we’ve outlined some of our top recommendations for mending. You can dig deeper into each tool for mending through our training content featured in the app.

Understand What’s Going On

First, we’ll help you understand the science of heartbreak. This will normalize what you’re experiencing so that you can move forward on your mending journey without feeling shame or guilt for how the breakup is affecting you.

Cut Communication

It’s hard to think about cutting communication with your ex, but starting an ex detox is a pivotal decision for your mending. You don’t have to avoid an ex forever, you just need some space to focus on your heart. Our 60-day Ex Detox walks you through this process and our app allows you to track how long you’ve gone without contacting your ex.

Journal Daily

We built journaling into our app because it helps you organize your thoughts and feelings after a breakup and allows you to reflect on the day’s training topic. We’re also big fans of a gratitude practice, which shifts you into a positive mindset.

Track Self Care

Each day on the Mend app you’ll log your self care activities. It’s a reminder to put your self care first. Do more of the things that make you smile, feel at ease, and help you recharge. Give this time priority on your calendar too, so that you don’t end up skipping it because you get busy with everything else going on in life.

Work Towards Something

You need a goal, something to look forward to that’s all about you. This gets you to focus that post-breakup energy on something productive that excites you. We’ll talk more about Mend monuments in the app.

Connect With Loved Ones

Slipping into isolation is quite easy after a breakup. You might feel like your friends and family don’t understand the pain you’re going through, or you might not be feeling your best and rather stay at home. That’s completely understandable. However, we’re social creatures, so staying connected is really important. It doesn’t mean you accept every happy hour invite, but it does mean you’ll have to ditch the baggy t-shirt and sweats, maybe just once or twice a month? Or maybe take that post-breakup solo trip? Whatever feels good for you!

Eight Journal Prompts For When You Need To Get Something Off Your Chest

Mending is full of ebbs and flows. Sometimes as you’re going through the motions you just need to vent, and journaling is a great way to get everything off your chest without unloading it all on a friend or family member or sending a really long text to your ex that you might later regret.

The only problem is that sometimes when you open your journal to write, you’re almost at a loss for words. No clue where to start. We want to help with that.

Below are a few journal prompts to get you started, whether you’re in the mood to show yourself some love or rage about your hurt. They’re simple kickstarts but once you start writing, the rest usually flows out without too much thought.

For self-love…

What do I love about my life as it is right now?

What does my ideal day look like? From morning to night…

A time I felt most accomplished was when…

I’m happiest when I’m…

For anger…

I can’t stand when…

The thing I miss least about my ex is…

I’m most scared about…

I just don’t understand why…

We hope this helps you work through some of your thoughts and feelings as they come up for you, so you can continue on the path of mending.

Science

A Breakup Yoga Routine From Yoga With Adriene

When you’re really feeling the pain of heartbreak, we think this is the perfect body+soul cocktail. All you need is the internet, a mat and a quiet area to practice. Sweatpants optional.

30 min Yoga for Relaxation

The chemicals we release during exercise make us feel better, but sometimes it’s hard to get moving when you’re in a lot of pain. If you’re at rock bottom and there’s no way you’re going to get out, start with this slow and gentle routine from Yoga with Adrienne. She is our favorite YouTube Yogi, and this one is especially meant for people feeling blue.

20 min Guided Meditation to Mend a Broken Heart

When you’re done with yoga, move into a seated position either on your mat or in a chair and begin this meditation with Brett Larkin, a yogi and tech CEO based in the Bay Area. If you’ve never meditated, this is a great beginner’s meditation – she quietly focuses on breathing and compassion to calm anxiety and make you feel less alone in your experience of heartbreak.

10 min Take Inventory + Hydrate

When you’re done, notice how you feel, both physically and mentally. Do you feel better? Make yourself a cup of herbal tea or get a glass of water, and remember this feeling next time you need motivation to get moving.

Why I (Still) Love Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s week! I wrote this post on a trip to San Francisco several years ago, and it still rings so true. I hope you are able to find some comfort in it.

A couple days ago, I received a text from a girlfriend thanking me for being there for her during a really difficult time about two years ago; it was the anniversary of that day. I received this text as I was on a run in San Francisco, and it made me stop in my tracks because I had just been thinking about her. About three years ago, she helped me through a really difficult time. In fact, the last time we got together in Los Angeles, I went home and wrote this short letter to her:

“I don’t think I ever told you how much you helped me through my break up. So thank you. I met up with you and your girlfriends right after it happened, and I remember that you showed an incredible mix of toughness and tenderness. It was a perfect balance of “Chin up” and “I know the pain you’re going through.” We’ve been through some interesting times together, and I am so happy that some of our memories in SF were intertwined, even if they were hard. Every time I see you, I’m reminded of the light inside you that is always shining and always smiling.”

I never sent it, and I’m not sure why. I finally sent it to her today. And this whole exchange made me realize that I have a lot of valentines to write today, none of which are romantic. There are so many people who have loved me just as a human, not as a girlfriend, or partner, and I am so thankful for those people.

My friends know that Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. I get that it’s not a popular opinion. I get why people don’t like today. They don’t like the pressure and the presents and the prix fixe menus. But, for me, Valentine’s Day has never been about those things. When I was little, I threw Valentine’s Day parties for my family every year, and throughout college and my twenties I organized Galentine’s Day celebrations. Valentine’s Day has always been a celebration of non-romantic love for me.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to spend my evening writing valentines. 

Try it. Think about all of the love in your life. Think about all the people who have taken care of your heart. Think about the people who have helped you put it back together when it was shattered into a million pieces. Think about all of the people who have been there for you in your life, in small and big ways. Today is the perfect day to celebrate them, and I hope you do. I know, for me, one type of love that I am so thankful for this year is the love I see between Menders. You all are a truly amazing group, so generous with your compassion, and I feel privileged to know you all.

Lots of love and Happy Valentine’s Day,

Elle

10 Single Guys Share How They Spend Valentine’s Day

Let’s be real. Valentine’s Day was made for couples and single women. If you’re not out celebrating with your significant other, you’re probably having a Girls Night Out or spending Galentine’s Day at home.

I don’t know what it is about February 14th that makes being a single lady so difficult. I mean in all fairness you were just as single yesterday and you’ll probably be just as single tomorrow. (Wow, Kate. Calm down.)

Do guys have to deal with this stuff? Do they get just as bummed out about being single on V-Day as girls do?

Well, I asked the question so you don’t have to. Here are 10 single guys on how they spend Valentine’s Day:

“I just got out of a relationship so I’ll probably spend some time with my roommate and watch some TV and enjoy the dessert aspect of Valentine’s Day. Maybe slide into some girls’ DM’s.”
-Jeremy, 20

“I’m buying my crush a bunch of flowers and playing a game of super-flirting.”
-Gil, 26

“Well for me, it’s never really been something I’ve thought about. I have experience having someone for it and also being single for it. If I don’t have someone for it, I try to spend quality time with friends and family and to simply think about it as another day. I personally think it’s a day we shouldn’t really despise like most people do. It’s a great way for loved ones to feel extra special and I really respect that idea. Whether I’m single or with someone, I really try not to make as much of a deal about it as some people may. I try not to let things like that affect me.”
-Brandon, 21

“This Valentine’s day will be with friends at a Valentine’s Day event. We might go to a wine tasting or a brewery. Just a bunch of single dudes sipping wine.”
-Paul, 34

“Most single guys will say that Valentine’s Day doesn’t affect them in any way. Well, they’re lying. The truth is it makes single people feel lonely in some way. I like to remind myself that Valentine’s Day is a man-made holiday, and that’s why I plan on treating it as a normal day. Even if you’re in a relationship, one day out of the year shouldn’t mean that you should treat your significant other any other way than you normally would. As a single man, every day is for me. As a non-single guy, everyday is for me and my significant other. No single day should make a difference.”
-Omid, 20

“This will be my first time in a long time being single on Valentine’s Day. I have a friend who’s turning 21 on the 14th so I’m gonna go out with him and some other people and get him drunk.”
-David, 21

“Wallow in regret and then prepare yourself for next year by adopting an animal, going to the gym and becoming a vegetarian. Those are all things girls like, right? Usually [I do] what most other people nowadays do on Valentine’s Day. Go on Tinder and look for someone to make them feel useful. That’s honestly reality.”
-Paul, 22

“Okay, well I do one of two things: I either spend the week beforehand flirting with a girl so I have something to do on Valentine’s Day or I find another mutually single friend and hang out. Avoid movies, malls, fancy restaurants and wait for all the chocolate to go on sale the next day.”
-Cody, 23

“I would have Single Awareness Day with single friends and watch chick flicks. Single people only! When friends in relationships ask if they can come, I’d say no because they have a boo. Oh, and wine and cheese. You gotta have wine and cheese when watching chick flicks. And single. You can be sad together.”
-Francis, 27

“I just go about like any other day. I mean, it’s not like Halloween or Christmas where people go places. Couples do. You don’t really notice that it’s a holiday. Even when I’m with a girl, I just get dinner and I buy them stuff.”
-Scott, 21

Our Top 10 Valentine’s Day Survival Tips

Valentine’s Day is such a charged holiday for many people, especially if you’re recently heartbroken. It can feel like everyone around you is celebrating romantic love except you. The good news is, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be so isolating. You can actually enjoy the holiday, even if you’re single.

We want you to feel that same positive energy on February 14, so we’re sharing our top 10 tips for surviving (and maybe even enjoying) Valentine’s Day.

1. Plan healthy distractions.

Social support is so crucial to feeling better if you’re struggling through heartbreak on Valentine’s Day, especially during times of uncertainty. Making virtual plans with friends or family will be a healthy distraction. Plus, you’ll be (virtually) surrounded by people who love you.

2. Touch base with your loved ones.

Life gets busy, and sometimes we forget to remind our loved ones how much they mean to us. Use Valentine’s Day to reach out to the people who’ve always been supportive and let them know how grateful you are to have them in your life.

3. Take a social media break.

Social media can be toxic for the broken-hearted on Valentine’s Day. Taking a break from Instagram will not only prevent you from being bombarded with everyone else’s V-Day plans, but it’ll also free up some of your time to actually do something special for yourself.

4. Celebrate other types of love.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about romantic love. We are surrounded by so much other love in our lives. You can shift the meaning of Valentine’s Day for you and honor all the other love in your life, like your family, best friends, coworkers, neighbors, and other people in your community.

5. Spend time building towards your Mend monument.

What better day than February 14 to dedicate some time to your Mend monument? We encourage all Menders to pick a goal, something they can build towards as they mend from their heartbreak. If your Mend monument is to run a marathon, then lace up your sneakers and go for a run.

6. Get outside.

We’ve written a lot about the healing benefits of nature. If you’re feeling overwhelmed on V-Day, go for a walk or a hike. The fresh air and greenery will help you feel more at ease. Maybe even gift yourself a really pretty plant for your house.

7. Prioritize your self care.

Carve out some time on February 14 to do the things that make you feel your best and soothe your nervous system.

8. Don’t beat yourself up if uncomfortable feelings come up.

Your ex may pop up in your thoughts or seeing other couples may cause you to ruminate on your last relationship. Don’t shame yourself for feeling the way you do. Take a few minutes to honor your feelings and even let out some tears if you need to. Try to set an amount of time to feel all the feelings, and when that time is up, go back to focusing on your self care and plans with friends!

9. Journal about how you feel.

Journaling is so helpful, which is why it’s part of the daily Mend practice. It can help you gain a better understanding of why you feel the way you do and process your emotions as they come up. If you’re not sure where to start, here are 8 questions to get you thinking.

10. Treat yourself like you would a best friend.

Something that often gets lost on us is how kindly we treat our friends and how tough we are on ourselves. Consider how you would treat a best friend if they were heartbroken on Valentine’s Day, and treat yourself with that same kindness.

Love Is Like A Plant Episode: How To Enjoy Valentine’s Day If You’re Single

It’s coming. Valentine’s Day can be totally daunting to those of us who are newly single, or even old-ly single. Our brains can rush into convincing us we’re the only single people on the planet and we’re doomed to be forever alone. That’s nonsense, of course! Valentine’s Day is for celebrating the love between family and friends, too.

In this episode of “Love is Like a Plant,” Elle talks about why she has always loved Valentine’s Day, including celebrating love with her family as a young child. Sarah says it’s a great day to write letters or texts to tell people you love them. Don’t focus on what’s missing, focus on who is there for you. Tune in to hear other ways they celebrate and what an ideal self care date looks like. Happy Valentine’s Day from Elle and Sarah! You can listen to the episode on Podcasts or SoundCloud. If you like it, be sure to share it with a friend and subscribe to get future episodes!

How to Communicate When Something Bothers You

“Communication is key.” – Everyone ever, in every book, movie, and real-life situation.

That piece of advice is constantly reiterated so why do we have such a hard time communicating about our problems? Why do we bottle things in rather than hash it out? Why do we hate confrontation so much that we would rather stay upset inside and play pretend that everything’s cool?

No one likes being uncomfortable. No one likes awkward situations. No one likes putting themselves in a position to be rejected or undermined. Instead, we try to ignore red flags by blaming ourselves, making excuses for our partner, and lying to ourselves and our partner. We like consistency and hate rocking the boat, but hey, communication is key, and lack of communication is the lock that you put on your heart. It’s essential to discuss with your partner anything that doesn’t sit well with you, especially the red flags in your relationship.

Here are some ways you can address your concerns with your partner in an amicable way.

1. Avoid blame.

Examples: “Now we’re late because you’re taking too long to get ready.” “The dishes are piling up because you should have done them yesterday.” “It’s your fault I didn’t text you today, because you were supposed to call last night but never did.”

Blaming is insinuating that someone is responsible for something bad happening. It is okay to state what someone did that bothered you, but blaming them is just a way of making sure you come off as innocent. There is a difference. No productive conversations start off with blame, however, lots of fights do.

Instead, show support, while still addressing the problem.

Example: “Is there anything I can do to help you get ready? We’re running late.” “Hey babe, can you help me clean today? I’ll do x if you do the dishes?” “I thought we were gonna talk last night. What happened?”

Acknowledging the issue in the form of a question is a good way to show that you’re not okay, but you’re also not throwing blame. Do you see the difference? If their response doesn’t show any concern, make sure they know that you wouldn’t have brought it up if it wasn’t important to you so hopefully in the future they can, for example, get ready an hour earlier, wash dishes sooner, or apologize in the morning or better yet, stick to their word.

2. Avoid universal statements (i.e. always/never).

Example: “You always take too long to get ready.” “You never do the dishes.” “Every time you say you’ll call, you don’t.”

Those are some fightin’ words! While your partner may have a habit of doing these things, saying words like “always” and “never” instantly puts them on the defense which soon becomes an offense, usually with another always/never statement about something off topic directed at you. We are prideful people and this really shows in relationships when we get defensive and protect ourselves by throwing blame back at them. So, not only will this kind of statement be hurtful, but also unproductive about the original issue.

Instead, suggest what you would have preferred.

Example: “I know I’m rushing you now, but would it help if I remind you to get ready an hour earlier next time?” “I know you hate doing the dishes, but when you wash them each time you use them, there’s not a big pile.” “I know you just forgot to call me, but I don’t want this to become a habit. It’s important to me that you either remember or not get my hopes up in the first place.”

When suggesting what you would have preferred, make sure it sounds like a suggestion, which means, don’t use the word “should.” This comes off more like a demand or a judgment. Wouldn’t you hate to be told what you “should” have done as if you upset them on purpose for no reason? Example: “You should already know how much I hate being late.” “You should have done the dishes yesterday.” No one likes being told what to do, and no one likes when others make assumptions about their intentions.

3. Always use “I” statements.

Example: “I feel like my priorities aren’t being respected. Being punctual is important to me.” “I feel like my priorities aren’t being respected when the dishes pile up.” “I feel marginalized when I have to wait for a call that never comes.”

Rather than focusing on what someone did, acknowledge how it made you feel and your reaction to it. This will make your partner feel much more comfortable because you are not blaming them, but simply stating that something bothered you. There is a huge difference in the way people react when you don’t activate their defenses. The goal should always be to discuss how their actions affect your relationship, not making them feel bad, guilty, or anything else. Focus on how you feel and how they feel because we all love being seen and understood when something isn’t right.

Using “I” statements gets at what really matters. Whether or not they are punctual doesn’t mean anything. Whether or not their punctuality hurts, offends, or disrespects you means everything. It’s likely they already know that their punctuality is a problem, but they probably don’t know how it affects you, and therefore, hinders your relationship, and that is what’s really important here. In a healthy relationship, you shouldn’t ever feel afraid to talk about your feelings.

Bringing up something that bothers you is never easy but it is so incredibly important. Good communication, openness, and honesty about your feelings is the only way you can find happiness in a relationship. Your partner can’t fix something that’s broken if you hide it away.

Love is like a plant, and it requires support and attention to help it grow. As a loyal blog reader, we are offering 50% off all our Mend Classes for a limited time. Use code BLOG50 at checkout. Sign up to get started.

Are You Confusing Mixed Signals For Something Else?

Ever notice how the relationships that are the most confusing and unpredictable seem to be the ones that spark the most intense attraction? We tell ourselves where there’s smoke there’s fire. But sometimes, it’s just smoke, with no sustainable flame. That’s because we’ve mistaken our own anxiety about the relationship for passionate chemistry.

It can be easy to mistake the anxiety or mixed signals generated by an unhealthy relationship for passionate chemistry. For example, when you are crushing hard on someone your body responds in certain ways. You may get butterflies in your stomach, feel your heart beating faster, or you may become hot and sweaty when you’re around that person. These physical sensations can be the sign of something wonderful to come, but they are also the same symptoms our body experiences in the face of fear or anxiety (also known as fight or flight).

Making matters more complicated, if we’re dating someone who is unpredictable and inconsistent, we can start to confuse the chronic cycle of pre-occupation followed by relief with the euphoria of a magical love.

When unclear signals are sent we frantically try to sort out how the other person feels and how we can keep them close. When they finally send some reassurance our way, we’re relieved and something that might usually just be perceived as common courtesy is experienced with euphoria. The feelings of elation are so intense compared to the fear and doubt that the experience becomes confused with intense passion.

And it makes sense that the crumb someone throws you when you’ve been starving is far more exciting than a balanced meal you eat everyday. But who wants to spend their whole life waiting for crumbs? The answer is no one.

If you’re finding yourself in a situation like this know that you’re not alone. I once broke up with a very handsome, successful, and kind man because he was “boring.” But in reality, he wasn’t boring at all. The problem was me. I found the lack of drama and the fact that he was very clear and consistent about how he felt about me to be boring. I had mistakenly fused excitement and passion with unavailable and inconsistent partners who always kept me on my toes, wondering where I stood in the relationship.

The good news is that you can turn this pattern around, and this is precisely what I’ll be covering in my Mend Class “Decoding Mixed Signals” I’ll help you discern if you are confusing chemistry with mixed signals, discuss the common reasons why we do this, and discuss how we can change this pattern so that you can find the happy and fulfilling relationship you deserve. See you there!

5 Ways To Beat Valentine’s Day Blues

Valentine’s Day can be a challenging day to get through if you’re heartbroken. It can easily make you feel unworthy and inadequate if you don’t have a significant other. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Here are 5 things to keep in mind if the thought of Valentine’s Day is getting you down:

1. Keep Your Perspective In Check

Even though you might be feeling down about being single, remember it’s only a temporary feeling. It’s important to remember that there are many people who are unhappy in relationships who will find Valentine’s Day just as hard. Try not to dwell on being single. Instead, stay positive and make it a day of self-love and self-care.

2. Get Back Out There

If you’re feeling social and open to meeting someone special, think about how you can get yourself back out there. Even though jumping back into the dating world may seem daunting at first, it can actually be really fun and empowering. One of the positive things about breakups is that you get to know yourself a little more after each one. So be ambitious, know your self-worth, and get back out there if you’re ready.

3. Know You’re Not Alone

For every loved-up couple you envy, there’s always someone who’s discouraged and sad. Know that you’re not the only one who’s single and feeling a little lonely. Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts, try spending time with a friend and connecting with others who may be in your shoes. 

4. Create Meaning

Who says that Valentine’s Day has to be about romantic love? Think about the people in your life who love you and do something to make them feel special.

5. Don’t Let Sadness Stop You

If the thought of Valentine’s Day is causing you to be upset and stress out, it may be time for some self-reflection. Take time to journal, meditate, practice yoga, or do something that allows you to be introspective. You may discover something insightful about yourself and Valentine’s Day could be a major turning point for you. 

You have the power to make Valentines Day a positive self-care day, so we hope you do!

8 Ways To Spend Valentine’s Day If You’re Single

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about romantic dinners, hearts, and flowers. If you’re single and unsure what to do this Valentine’s Day, here are 8 things you can do that don’t involve a significant other: 

1. Spend Time With Siblings

Spending some time with your siblings can be a great way to reconnect with them. Cook a family dinner or head out somewhere. Whatever you do, it’s the quality time with the people you love that will take your mind off of being single.

2. Make And Send Cards 

Who says that Valentine’s Day has to be about romantic love? It’s the perfect opportunity to show your friends how much you appreciate them. Plus, the act of making cards gets your creative juices flowing.

3. Take A Day Trip

Take yourself on an adventure! There’s never been a better time to spend some quality time with yourself. Visit somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, get tickets to an exhibition, or just head somewhere you’ve never explored before. Spending some time alone can help you cultivate a stronger sense of self love.

4. Watch A Movie: How To Be Single

It’s so funny! A great choice for anyone who is single (whether or not it’s Valentine’s Day).

5. Take A Class

Expand your mind and try something new on Valentine’s Day. It could be an exercise class or creative activity such as photography, cooking, or painting. You never know, you might just find a new hobby while everyone else is eating grocery store chocolate!

6. Take Your BFF Out To Dinner

Taking another single friend out to dinner guarantees you great company without all the looming expectations. Plus, it will give you both a boost if you’re feeling down in the dumps about being single.

7. Make A Stranger’s Day

Making someone else feel good is the most amazing feeling. Even just a simple smile goes a long way. Try giving someone a compliment, paying for someone’s coffee, or just asking how their day is going. 

8. Go To A Comedy Show

If you’re in need of a good laugh, a comedy show is bound to get you smiling.

Remember, Valentine’s Day is just ONE day. Regardless of whether you’re single or in a relationship, it’s a great time to focus on self-care and make others feel special too – you’ll make it through.

The Best Wellness Retreats For Burnout Or Heartbreak

Editor’s note: A few of these specific retreat dates have passed, but all hosts have year-round retreats you can check on their websites.

Thanks for following us to the Big Apple with our NYC Mend Guide. Today we’re taking a departure from our regular city guides to share 7 trips and retreats to recharge post-breakup or during a period of burnout. Whether you want to get away on your own or go with some friends, we’ve curated retreats that will help you move forward physically, mentally, and emotionally.  

In case you missed it, we’ve also shared how to mend in Paris, London, San Francisco, Westside LA, Eastside LA, and Central LA.

Seek Spaciousness at Spirit Rock

Turn inward during a workshop or retreat at Spirit Rock, a world-renowned meditation center in the rolling hills of Northern California. If you have the time, their one or two-month long retreats focus on quieting the mind, opening the heart, and developing profound clarity and depth of Insight practice, which is a form of Vipassana meditation.

Daily schedules consist of silent sitting, walking, dharma talks and practice meetings with teachers in order to support you doing your inner journey. Spirit Rock also hosts shorter retreats, workshops and classes.

Pro tip: Spirit Rock offers a sliding payment scale for their offerings.

Healing Hot Springs at Esalen

Wind down for a weekend retreat at Esalen Institute, an incredible center perched along 27 miles of rugged and breathtaking Pacific coast in Big Sur, California. Their 3-5 day workshops deeply nourish your mind, body and heart with healthy meals, daily yoga and movement classes, massages and visits to the natural hot springs that overlook the ocean. 

Pro Tip: Many Esalen activities are unstructured so you can practice at your own pace, so this could be a great retreat for you if you don’t like conventional retreats.

Commune And Surf At Maderas Village

Looking for a luxurious retreat that won’t break the bank? Head to Maderas Village in Nicaragua, a warm and vibrant community that welcomes singles, pairs and groups alike – our friends who go to Maderas say it’s unlike any other place they’ve been, and they’re already talking about going back.

This beautiful coastal resort has a variety of private or shared rooms to choose from (from $40/night) and offers its guests yoga, surf lessons and horseback riding. You can also enjoy a massage from the resident masseuse or take a day cruise around the bays on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. 

Ayurveda Along The Arabian Sea

If you’re looking to start the year fresh, head to Goa, India with Love Yoga (one of our favorite yoga studios, with locations in Venice and Montauk) for their yoga and meditation retreat this January. You’ll spend seven days on Cola Beach along the Arabian Sea and receive nourishing Ayurvedic treatment.

Each day in Goa will begin with a vigorous vinyasa class and wind down with a restorative practice to prepare for evening pranayama (breathwork) and meditation on lava rocks. Love Yoga also hosts retreats around the world: Greece, Italy, and Portugal to name a few recent locations. 

Mend In Majestic Marfa 

Kick off the new year at Sky Ting Yoga‘s January yoga retreat in Marfa, TX – a haven for contemporary art lovers and nature lovers alike. You’ll spend four days and nights practicing yoga at the luxurious Hotel Saint George, a great home base to enjoy the art and eclectic vibes that Marfa has to offer. 

This retreat includes 8 yoga classes, a visit to Chinati Fountain, a day trip to other-worldly Big Bend National Park, and a margarita party. Sky Ting also hosts retreats around the world. Their most recent retreats have been in Portugal, Costa Rica and Italy.

Heal Your Heart At The Chopra Center

If you are in need of emotional healing, check out Healing the Heart at The Chopra Center in Carlsbad, CA. This 3-day emotional healing workshop, which is scheduled throughout the year, gives participants the opportunity to experience a deep emotional release process in a group setting. 

You’ll practice heart-opening yoga and breathing techniques, nourish your body with delicious Ayurvedic meals and connect with other like-minded individuals who share your desire for healing and greater happiness. The unique five-step emotional healing process will help you identify, mobilize, and release any toxic emotions caused by fear, resentment, and heartbreak.

Rounding Retreat In Bali

Nourish your body, mind, and soul in the mountains of Bali with meditation teacher Light Watkins. Light will teach Transcendental Meditation away from the hustle of everyday life so that you can deepen your practice. You will also learn the art of “Rounding,” an advanced meditation technique.

This six-day retreat includes 3 daily vegetarian and seafood meals, deluxe spa massage treatments, morning and evening yoga sessions, and a traditional Balinese dance performance.

Mend with us!

We have hosted two wonderful wellness retreats in Portugal and Spain, and we can’t wait to host our next retreat soon (we’re planning Mexico and France). Our retreats either focus on healing burnout or breakups, so you can choose what theme you’d like to focus on mending before you book. We ensure nourishing food, compassionate company, healing practices, and a beautiful backdrop for mending. To get more information on upcoming retreat dates, subscribe to our newsletter below.

Post-Holiday Rut? Here’s How to Get Out of It

The most wonderful time of the year. That may be true for some people, but for others, the holidays are laced with connotations of anxiety and depression caused by comparing ourselves to others, perfectionism, lack of communication, family conflict, and breakups. It doesn’t help that seasonal affective disorder, a subtype of the mood disorders, might have us feeling the “winter blues” due to a lot less sunlight and therefore a lot less literal warmth of temperature and metaphorical warmth of hearts. Not having your ex with you anymore to cuddle, calm you down, and look at the lights is just icing on the cake making us all the more worked up and hopeless. If you’ve found yourself in one of these holiday ruts, we feel you, and we’re here to help you through it.

Sunlight is very limited during the winter months so it’s important that you use your daylight wisely. Wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier so that you have more time in the sun. It is very possible that your body has started to produce more melatonin, the sleep hormone, due to the surrounding darkness. If you ignore your body telling you it’s time to sleep, then you will spend the rest of the day feeling lethargic and drained of your energy, which definitely affects your mood! When it is time to wake up, stand outside for a few minutes to soak in the sun’s rays. No, really, you get less Vitamin D when you have less exposure to the sun, so make sure to get out there because Vitamin D is necessary to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves cognition and mood.

No one is perfect, and no one cares that you aren’t, either! We want to impress during the holidays. We want to have great decorations, cook an amazing dish, give the best gifts, but think about it. How often do you drive by a house with great lights and think “wow, that family really has their stuff together”? Never! You’re too busy admiring the lights. How often do you drive by a house without lights, or with kind of lousy lights, and judge them for not being perfect? Never. You don’t care if your neighbor pulled out the ladder to put up their lights, and they don’t care if you did either. No one cares if your food isn’t good. They probably don’t even know who made it and are just grateful to be eating anything. No one cares if you got everyone the same gift card. They are too concerned with themselves and their gifts to even notice. Really, this stuff doesn’t matter, and trying to be perfect might impress some people, but the majority of people won’t even notice. So, what really matters here is yourself. The holidays may have gotten you overwhelmed and stressed, but moving forward, take time to breathe, and stop caring what people think. Just do what makes you comfortable. Don’t be afraid to return gifts that you hate. Don’t feel like you have to take your lights down as soon as possible. Don’t feel obligated to communicate with or spend time with anyone that brings you down.

Family/friend conflict is a big source of holiday ruts. If something someone said or did during the holidays leaves you feeling uneasy even days or weeks after, speak up. If something needs to be said, say it, even if you think it might “ruin” someone’s holidays. Both parties are already feeling tense and ignoring that tension just makes everyone uncomfortable. Communication is key, and bottling things up just brings you down. Not speaking up is one way to ensure more anxiety, and not communicating your needs is one way to ensure they won’t be met. Look out for yourself, because no one else is. No one can read your mind. 

Feeling left out? If you aren’t close to any family or friends, the holidays were probably a tough season for you. Everyone is stressing the importance of being with loved ones, and you’re feeling lonely and left out. Well, the obvious answer is to make friends, but clearly, that’s not the easiest thing to do. Instead, do things that used to make you happy. Become friends with yourself again. Start to enjoy your alone time by filling it with interesting activities, books, and self-exploration. Depression makes us feel isolated and detached, unable to take interest in anything anymore. So you may not want to do anything, but you really do need to. Go out hiking if that’s something you enjoyed once, go to coffee shops to browse the internet rather than doing it at home, play video games, or exercise, or whatever it was that you enjoyed before the depression kicked in. It will help to engage your mind and body. The change in scenery and being in the presence of others, even if you are not with them, will definitely help.

Check out our blog post “How to Refocus Your Love This Holiday Season“. It has plenty of great tips that can last you even after the holidays and help you get out of this rut. Having something to work towards brings us motivation and positive energy, so check out How to Set New Year’s Resolutions Using the Law of Attraction and SMART Goals. It’s not too late for hopes, dreams, and New Year themes.

Three Tips To Not Dread Dating In The New Year

If you’ve been feeling jaded when it comes to dating, the New Year is a perfect time to think about how you might want to change things up. Here are some tips on how to date with fresh eyes in the New Year.

1. Give Yourself A Break

It may seem counterintuitive but sometimes you just need to give yourself a rest from dating if it’s making you unhappy, stressed, or if you’re feeling burned out. If you’re worried about missing out on potential opportunities, just know that taking a break doesn’t have to mean completely shutting yourself off to new people. It just means bringing the focus back to yourself and what makes you happy. Taking a dating hiatus gives you a chance to reflect back on what hasn’t worked and how you might want to change things in the future.

2. Change Up Your Routine

Changing the way you date can give a whole new perspective. If you’re active on dating apps and you’ve been checking your messages in the evening, try doing this at a different point in the day. It’ll give you more time for self-care at night. It’s also easy to get into the habit of using the same apps or going to the same places to meet people – it may be time to try one or two new places.

3. Don’t Stress About Finding “The One”

Dating should be exciting, but a big part of why it’s so stressful is that we put so much pressure on ourselves to meet “the one” within a specific time frame. Try and look at this differently. Even if you don’t meet the perfect match, there’s always room to learn something new from someone. If you approach dating with a more open mind, then it can take some of the pressure off and make it more enjoyable.

At the end of the day, remember that it’s important to be gentle with yourself and give yourself time – you have the whole year ahead of you. Happy New Year!

How To Reinvent Yourself This Year

The start of the new year is a perfect time to look at how you want to grow. It’s time to become a more vibrant and happy version of you. Here are some ideas to get you started…

Declutter 

Your environment is a reflection of your mind. Decluttering your space can be very therapeutic. Out with the old and in with the new. Clearing out your space allows new opportunities and positive energy to enter your life. 

Make New Goals

Having goals gives you perspective and direction. What would you love to happen this year, how do you want to feel on a daily basis, what would you like to create? Create a plan of action and make it happen!

Create A Bucket List 

It’s easy to get stuck reading the same types of books, having the same routine, and engaging in the same activities. Challenge yourself to think of new things you want to do. Make a bucket list of everything you want to try this year.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone 

Do something (safe of course!) that scares you. The best way to grow is to go and do something outside of your comfort zone. You’ll feel an amazing sense of accomplishment afterward. 

Revamp Your Style

It could be a new haircut, a bold lipstick shade, or rocking a new outfit. Beauty and style is a great way to express yourself. A couple of changes can help you feel more like the person you want to become.

Make Changes

Take some time to assess what’s going on in your life and what improvements you would like to see. Then commit to making those changes happen. Don’t be afraid to call in support from friends, family, and/or professionals. It takes great strength to admit what isn’t working for you. Once you start to take steps to change, it can feel like a huge weight has been lifted and an immense accomplishment.

Follow Your Intuition 

If you have a nagging feeling that you’ve been ignoring, spend some time exploring that. Maybe there’s a part of you that would like to change jobs or apply for a promotion, start a business, get out there and date, or travel. Whatever it is, give yourself permission to explore it! 

Make Yourself A Priority

Make yourself a priority. This isn’t about acting from a place of selfishness. It’s about replenishing yourself so that you can give your all to the people and things in your life that matter. It’s about cultivating ultimate respect for yourself and having boundaries.

Reinvention is a chance to reset and make changes based on your past experiences that will bring more peace, happiness, excitement, and fulfillment into your world – which you deserve and are worthy of!

How to Set New Year’s Resolutions Using SMART Goals

It’s the holiday season and New Year’s Day is almost upon us. A time for new beginnings. But new beginnings can be hard.

If you’ve already read “The Dreams and Realities of New Year’s Resolutions”, you already know why resolutions are so hard to stick to. What if we rethink New Year’s resolutions? What if we learn to improve our goal setting techniques and use the energy around us in our favor to create a better reality?

Get out your pen and paper because curating goals that work will require work. Are you ready to create a better New Year’s resolution?

Set A Theme For The New Year

Once you’ve reflected on the previous year and decided in what ways you’d like to grow and improve, it might help to set a theme for the new year.

Some examples would be confidence, money, health, self care, productivity, spirituality, love, relationships, creativity, organization, boundaries, and positivity, among others. This theme will be kind of like a mantra and sort of like a guiding light, but it is not a goal in and of itself. Instead, you’ll create goals that capture the energy of the theme.

Create SMART Goals That Align With Your Theme

Next, make sure your goals are specific. You need to be able to envision your goal as a reality. If you can’t do this, it may mean your goal is not realistic or attainable. To make sure you are setting goals that you can stick to, use the SMART method of goal setting. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. We’ll give an example if your theme for the new year was health.

Specific: How will you be healthy? What does healthy mean? Health of mind, body, or soul?

Measurable: How many times will you work out in a week? How many glasses of water will you drink? How many servings of vegetables will you aim for each day?

Attainable: Do you have the financial means to buy these vegetables? Do you have the freedom in your schedule to go for a run every day? Do you have the physical means to work out this much? To make sure your goal is attainable, start small, and then push yourself harder when you see what you are capable of.

Realistic: Is this goal something you can actually work towards and achieve in the near future? Is it even possible? Is it healthy? It is okay to dream big, but goals need to be small, realistic steps.

Timely: At what specific time and on what days will you work out? For how long? At what time of day will you eat your daily salad? By when would you like to start seeing results in how you feel? Goals work best when they are daily because you build a more steady routine, but do what is realistic and attainable for you.

Without SMART goals, it’s impossible to track and measure your progress. How will you know when you have become “healthy” without a specific way to measure that? How will you be able to hold yourself accountable for working on your goal every day if you don’t have a schedule and expectations set up for yourself? How will you be able to envision your life as someone that is “healthy” if you cannot define it?

How To Apply This To Your Life

Write out your SMART goals in a statement or series of statements in the positive present tense. Remember that once you make the goal, you start to make it your reality, so it is not strange to put it in the present tense. Examples of SMART goals within the theme of health would be:

“I go for a fifteen-minute jog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I eat a salad for lunch every day at around 12 p.m. I am losing 20 pounds this year, which means I am losing 1.6 pounds every month.”

You will know you have written your goal correctly if you can check off whether or not you did what you needed to do. You can’t check off “be healthy” but you can check off “15-minute jog.”

You can become more confident, healthy, financially stable, or whatever your dreams are for yourself just by changing your mindset, envisioning that goal, and willing it into existence. Your thoughts become your reality. What will be your reality in the new year? Picture it in detail using the SMART goals you created. We’re excited for you!

The Dreams And Realities of New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is a fresh start, a chance to grow, an opportunity to start over and work towards a goal. Unfortunately, though, those goals are abandoned by February and the fresh start we all waited for comes and goes as our old habits kick in and our subconscious goes into overdrive.

Sound familiar?

It’s good to dream, it’s good to want more for yourself, and it’s certainly good to set goals. Self-improvement is self-care. But the harsh reality is that unless you are setting your goals in a measurable way, and working towards them consistently, it may be better to not set any goals at all.

A better thing to do may be to practice gratitude and come to enjoy where you are, which is also a form of self care and self-love. When we fall short of our goals it can be very discouraging and cause us to engage in negative self-talk, which is detrimental to our mental health and prevents growth and transformation.

To avoid this cycle, it’s helpful to understand why there is a difference between what we expect to happen and what actually happens when we set New Year’s resolutions.

What we expect to happen: lose weight.

What actually happens: loss of motivation after realizing how much work it takes.

What we expect to happen: save money.

What actually happens: inability to turn down dinner with friends and morning lattes.

What we expect to happen: wake up at 6 a.m. every day.

What actually happens: snooze until 7:30.

Why are we unable to stick to goals like this? There are a couple of reasons.

We have not reflected on the previous year.

“How to Conduct A Self Care Year in Review” is a great starting point for reflection on the previous year before setting goals for the new one. Without reflecting in some way, you won’t know what helped you grow and what caused your stagnancy. It is so important to reflect and review your behaviors and your lifestyle before you try to adjust it so that you already know what works for you and what doesn’t. Reflection is a necessary step for transformation.

We are not setting goals the SMART way.

We wish goal-setting was as easy as saying “I will save money” but this goal will not get you anywhere without a plan. In order to see a goal through it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. It needs to be a SMART goal. Be specific about how to save money and how much money you want to save, use tools to help, and track your progress. Be realistic though. Start with small goals, and when you know how much you are capable of, push yourself even further. That way, you don’t get discouraged because you don’t meet impossible goals.

We are scientifically engineered to choose the easy way out.

Old habits die hard. Very, ridiculously, hard. That’s because when the brain gets certain stimuli, such as a message from the belly saying “feed me,” there is already an ingrained response, “let’s eat,” that is constantly reinforced. The response takes a pathway, one that our brain paved long ago, every time we respond to this message. So, something called myelin sheath is created around our nerve cells to make the pathway faster and easier for the response. When responses like this are suddenly challenged by a different response, like, “no, let’s stick to our diet,” the brain has to make a brand new pathway, which the brain doesn’t want to do.

The brain likes to be the boss. The brain likes to stick to old patterns and old habits because they are more efficient than new patterns and new habits so it will automatically default to wanting to take the old pathway every single time. But new pathways CAN be created, they can be reinforced, and eventually, they can be the default for the brain. But they take time. Be patient and know that at the beginning you will need to work very hard to be the boss of your brain, but it will learn to listen to you as long as you are stern and persistent about always taking the new pathway, even when every other neuron is telling you to take the easy way out. This is the only way you will build new and healthier habits that you can stick to.

You can restructure your brain if you try hard enough, but consistency is non-negotiable. You cannot reach goals and break bad habits unless you are consistent from the very beginning. They say it takes 21 days to build a new habit. If you fail once, you start over.

I hope you feel empowered now to make the most of the New Year. Set goals the SMART way and show your brain who is the boss. An extra dose of gratitude and compassion goes a long way too. Happy New Year.

Three Things To Do If You’ll Be Single On New Years

The New Year can be a hard holiday to spend alone after a breakup. If you find yourself anxious and sad, just know that you are not alone and that it won’t always feel that way. With everyone staying home this year, it’s going to be a particularly difficult one for many. But the silver lining is that there’s less pressure to plan anything at all, which is one of the most stressful parts of this holiday for people who are struggling through a difficult moment.

Here are a few strategies to get you through New Year’s: 

Spend some time reflecting on this year. 

New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to be all about parties, and it won’t be this year due to the pandemic; it can instead represent taking some quiet, uninterrupted time to look back on the year and see how far you’ve come, what you would like to change, and what parts of your life you want to fulfill. This may be different if you were planning on being with your S.O. but sometimes different is okay (and even better!) because there’s less pressure.

Make virtual plans

Just because you don’t have a romantic partner doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do. Reach out to family or friends (especially the single ones) and join the virtual celebrations with people you love. Sometimes you just have to remind those around you that you need their support – they may not know that you are feeling lonely. Plan ahead and get some of your favorite treats for a night in. Watch movies, read, treat yourself to some pampering, and set intentions for the new year. Organize a video call for single friends if you want, or just enjoy the quiet time alone. The important thing is to make sure you have planned ahead so that it doesn’t sneak up on you.

Shift your perspective. 

Remember, New Year’s Eve is just one night. Even though there are a lot of expectations wrapped up into it, at the end of the day, it is just a regular day for everyone. Although it may be painful, you’re now free of a relationship that wasn’t working. That’s something to celebrate. Let yourself feel sad if that’s what you’re feeling, but also try to focus on gratitude and think about all the incredible people who were in your life this year that you could count on no matter what.

How to Conduct a Self Care Year in Review

Reflection is a key factor in improvement. You can reflect on your day, your week, and your month, but the entire year coming to a close has a certain sense of finality to it that marks a very clear ending and beginning. It is an exciting opportunity to look back and identify areas of wonderful growth and to recall what made you feel light, healthy, and whole and what made you feel stuck, sad, or stagnant. Reflection is not the same thing as setting resolutions. Rather, it’s a necessary step to take before you set your carefully crafted goals.

Following a heartbreak, these reflections might be nostalgic, or they might be anger-inducing, or probably a difficult blend of the two along with many other emotions. Allow these sentiments to exist. Let yourself reflect on what you are feeling, but do not spend too long dwelling on the “whys” and “what ifs.” In fact, when those thoughts come, send them away like clouds and return back to this reflection. Remember to be kind to yourself while conducting your year in review. Don’t think too hard about the good times with your ex unless you are recalling lessons you learned and how your character has developed.

Thank yourself for getting you through this past year, and also thank everything that served you along the way. Then, acknowledge that it is finished, and let it go in order to let the New Year in. Right now, let’s take out a pen and paper and remember this past year before we set goals for the new one.

Think about who you spent your time with.

Friends, family, coworkers. Let’s avoid exes, for now, don’t worry we’ll get to that later. Let it be a stream of consciousness, writing every name as it comes to you. When you’re done, think about each person. Do they serve a positive purpose in your life right now? Cross out the ones that don’t anymore or never did, thank them in your heart for what they taught you and how they grew you, and let them go. You don’t need to need to be investing your free time in them anymore.

Circle the ones that continue to serve a positive purpose, and invest in them more in the coming year. Thank them in your heart as well, and remember how their hugs and smiles lifted your spirit and lightened your load. You may not be able to write their names but in your mind identify people you briefly met that inspired you and showed you kindness and write down how they showed you their light.

Think about what activities you did.

Make a list of what you did, read, watched, and listened to. Did you discover a new hobby that you love or a new book that helped you grow? How did you spend your free time? Remember the lessons of that one book, and reflect on how to continue implementing what you learned. Recall how you felt watching and listening to certain things. Did anything particularly make you feel on top of the world? Circle that. Did anything make you fall into memories of the good times, nostalgia, and questions of what went wrong? Yeah, let’s go ahead and cross that out. Multiple times.

What hobbies did you love doing? Hobbies can be time-consuming but it is important to spend that time with yourself to do something you enjoy. You will be more comfortable in your own company and more careful about how you spend your time in the future. Always think, “is this activity going to be a good thing for me, or am I just doing this because I’m bored and it’s readily available?” Watching TV or scrolling Facebook can definitely be cathartic and just what you need to unwind, but other times it might be better to read, write, bake, paint, or whatever it is that you can get lost in, in a good way.

Think about your work or school life.

Do you feel fulfilled by what you do or what you study? I hope the answer is yes, and if so, you are lucky. Write down what you do/study and circle it. Thank yourself for putting in the hard work and dedication to get to where you are and write down what strengths and passions got you here. Reflect on how you could have built your skills even more, and what goals you may have fell short on.

However, if the answer was no, that’s okay. I know working on something you don’t want to do is difficult, so thank yourself for your fortitude and dedication. Go ahead and write down what you do and cross it out. More likely than not, the reason you haven’t left your unfulfilling job or college major is that you can’t, or you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t. So let’s work with where you are right now. I challenge you to think about the work you do as an act of service towards others. If you can’t find happiness in the work itself, strive to find happiness by helping people. So now, write down “serving others” and circle it.

Whether you enjoy your job or not, when you put good energy into the world, you get good energy out of it. If you come to work determined to work hard and work well, you will build up your character. Look at it as an investment in yourself, because by cultivating patience, responsibility, and endurance in the workplace, you craft yourself into a better person, and that may help you land your dream job someday. Now, whether your first answer was “yes” or “no,” write down three character traits your current job has helped you build, like work-ethic, patience, and responsibility.

Think about your health and well-being.

What was your diet like this year? Did you exercise? Did you cultivate dynamic relationships? Did you practice self care? Write down what you did and ate this year that was conducive to your health.

Health and well-being are multi-faceted, but thankfully, these different aspects build upon each other. When you exercise and eat well, you are doing your mental health a favor, and when you feel mentally well, you are better equipped to build healthy relationships. What you eat and how you exercise are small but mighty ways to make your life more creative and exciting. So, remember those meals you ate this year that you actually had fun cooking, and that time you didn’t even realize how much you were exercising.

Thank your body for the work it has done for you this year, and make sure to take good care of it moving forward because it’s the only one you’ve got.

Menders, it’s time to think about your breakup or burnout.

What progress have you made this year? Now, this isn’t a free pass to indulge yourself in the “what went wrong” questions. Remember to not let yourself go there.

Rather, write down how long it has been since the breakup or burnout started. Write down what was going on in your life that helped you to reach milestones. If you haven’t reached them yet, that’s okay. Instead, you can celebrate the small victories, which are often the hardest. For example, with a breakup, write down when the last time was that you contacted your ex, viewed their Instagram tags, or stalked their Facebook. If you don’t remember, that’s awesome! Write that. If you have dipped into any of these habits, write down what you were doing that made you want to check up on them, then cross it out.

Celebrate!

Menders might already be familiar with the idea of the breakup ritual. This won’t be a breakup ritual per se, but a similar way of letting something go: a release ritual. In the episode of “Love Is Like A Plant” titled “How To Get Your Ex Back,” Elle and her co-host Sarah May B discuss ways to do this ritual: have a beer and a cigarette, take a hike and throw something, shout loudly into a canyon, sing a song at the top of your lungs on the freeway. Make it yours. Do something cathartic as a way to celebrate all the work, pain, emotional exhaustion, physical exhaustion, people, good memories, bad memories, anthems, and events that made this year what it was. Maybe write down the year on a piece of paper and tear it into hundreds of little pieces. Allow your reflections to manifest into a transformation, and as your release ritual crescendos, allow it to fizzle out with the old you, and with a great, big, cathartic smile, let the new you shine.

Congrats on coming so far. You’ve done great this year!

New Year’s Intentions: An Alternative To The Resolutions We Never Keep

Do you set New Year’s resolutions every year? It might be time to try something new: intentions. Intentions are more about creating smaller goals in the moment, instead of huge resolutions that have gone by the wayside come February. If you’ve struggled to keep resolutions, intentions can somehow feel more compassionate, kinder, and fun.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some thought starters:

What things bring you the most happiness?

Taking time to reflect on the parts of your life that bring you the greatest joy, passion, creativity, and energy can really help when it comes to deciding what you want to create more of. So think about these things and you can set intentions around them. Why not have more of what you love – you deserve it! Plus, when you’re more fulfilled within yourself, it filters out into all areas of your life.

What elements of your life do you want to focus on?

The downfall of New Year’s resolutions are that they can seem exciting at the time, but then feel like a mammoth task to achieve when it comes to down to it. It can also be tempting to choose one huge goal that’s difficult to reach and feels more like a slog. So having intentions for a few areas of your life can feel a little more fun and varied. You could pick an intention a week for your health, your personal growth, self-care and fun and creativity for example. Or, your dating life, nutrition and practicing gratitude.

Have you written down your future vision?

Set some time over the holidays to write down your vision and what you’d like to achieve. Research has shown that writing down your goals and visions have been proven to increase the chances of them happening. You could even do this with friends and host an intention setting get together!

Journaling and the act of writing things down are incredibly powerful, plus they can help you get clear on the fine details. Then, it can also help to write down any practical steps you can take. The more detail you can infuse into them, the more you’ll be encouraged to bring them to life!

Have you reflected on this past year?

While the aim is to focus forwards, it can also be empowering to look back on your year and recognize how far you’ve come. While we all have things, habits or behaviors we could improve upon or change, the idea of intention setting is also to congratulate yourself on your achievements – emotionally, practically and physically. Looking back at your challenges and hurdles can really help you see how much you’ve grown.

We hope you enjoy setting your intentions and wish you a very happy holiday season!

Why Being Single At Christmas Is Not The End Of The World

Lately, it’s become a trend to have someone on your arm for the Christmas season. Ice skating, Christmas shopping and watching Home Alone *actually* alone are not really things anyone wants to do. 

They want date nights on Stephen’s Day and they want their New Years Kiss to be their forever.

Sure, there is something to be said for having a little romance at the most magical time of year but at the end of the day there’s one thing I can promise you:

Your Christmas won’t be any worse if you’re spending it solo.

For one thing, it’s one less present to worry about right?

In today’s society things, like this are being far too hyped up and stressed over.

It’s time we remembered what Christmas really is about, and for everyone that is different.

Christmas isn’t really my thing, I won’t lie. It’s too traditional, somehow too restrictive. Coming from a really mixed family, step brother and half sisters living on the other side of the world, a traditional family Christmas has never been something I fully understood and that’s honestly the way I like it. 

We are messy and all over the place and my seasons of Christmas are never really the same. Having to spend Christmas, or even worse, worry over Christmas about how your “other half” is doing or how they are spending Christmas is not what you need to be doing while celebrating the happiest season of the year.

If you’re single this Christmas embrace it.

Don’t blush when people ask who your New Years Kiss will be and don’t be embarrassed explaining to your family that, “No mum it will be just me there for dinner AGAIN this year, no don’t worry I’m not sad about it. We can end this call now okay.” 

Embrace it, love with what you have while you can.  There are not many years in your life when you are so free at such a time of the year, so make the most of it. If you’re a family kind of person, why not really get into the spirit of things and go home for a long break. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget we actually don’t really know what might be going on in our family’s lives anymore. And Christmas is the perfect time to rekindle that connection that blood holds. Find out their latest fears, loves, secrets. Even the people closest to us are always changing and sometimes with family your mind is still seeing the version of them you knew for so long, or maybe you’re only allowing them to see a certain version of you. Take this Christmas to break those habits and open yourself up again. These are the people who have loved you from day one, don’t forget that.

The love you receive on Christmas doesn’t always have to be romantic, this love is permanent, this love is life lasting. This love is just as worthy of your attention.

And if you’re not a family person, or you simply detest the season, don’t stress. It is only as traditional as you make it and when it comes down to it is only another day of the year. Someone once told me, ”Christmas is an ideal, Christmas can be whatever you want it to be.” So if Christmas for you is running away, then do just that. Book a flight, a train, rent a car and take a trip. Experience Christmas in a different culture, a different country, a new place. You don’t always have to follow the well-known path, and you can make your own alone.

Take the time and give it to yourself. That is the best Christmas present you could ever receive.

So as we quickly approach the so-called “cuffing” season, pride yourself on being single. Relish in your untainted independence.

Reminisce about the last 12 months and prepare yourself for the New Year. Who knows what is coming around the corner. That’s the most exciting part.

6 Ways For Single People To Thrive During The Holidays

The holidays are easy for couples, aren’t they?

The most difficult decisions they’ll face are when to stop adding to the gift wish list and what to get for their partner. If the stress from that isn’t enough, there will also be the unrelenting struggle to determine which Christmas dinner to go to, on which day. How will they ever decide?! Turkey and stuffing more than once in 24 hours?! Leftovers? Gifts from two families? Noooooooooo!

Hopefully they’ll make it through.

For singles, the holiday season is a whole other story. Christmas movies are filled with romance, love, sex, Hugh Grant, plenty of laughter and never any love misses.

Yet we tend to miss love often during the holidays. It is a time of year that has a way of reminding us that we don’t have anyone. Over and over our heart will feel poked and prodded.

“Who’s your plus one for the company Christmas party?”

The friendship couples’ Christmas parties become a celebration of being the fifth wheel. To make matters worse, we see couples flirting and wiping the extra whip cream off each other’s noses from their eggnog lattes. How cute. Not. (Haven’t said that since high school.)

So I propose a new type of holiday season. One where single people thrive and reinvent what it means to have enormous amounts of extra time and money.

What’s there to be sad about?

Rediscover what it means to love yourself, so you don’t need the love of others.

Joy is in season all year long.

We’re not blowing our money on useless gifts and driving in snowstorms to see in-laws we don’t even like. No more having to endure the same mundane conversations that have us blaming tryptophan for nodding off. Let’s be honest. It’s them, not the turkey.

So, here’s six ways to turn the holidays into a time for growth, self love and to thrive in your aloneness or better yet, not get back together with your ex or install Tinder (again).

1. Don’t grow up. It’s a trap.

When we were young we didn’t think about how lonely Christmas was. We were so caught up in the amazing things to look forward to. Sure we wanted the gifts, but in a child’s mind it’s about more than that. It’s about sharing, excitement, cuddling and watching Christmas cartoons, and waking up at 5am before Santa even thought about visiting. A kid’s heart offers a lot of insight into how to live before we learned to build walls around our hearts. Go Kids Table!

2. Get yourself the gift that keeps on giving.

Constantly we search for love when we don’t have it within ourselves. It’s true that once we’re happy alone then we’re able to fully show up in relationships. Christmas is the chance to do just that. Gift yourself the gift of development. Sign up for a course, dance class, learn to build a website, start a blog. Whatever has been on your list forever, do it! It’s time to start achieving and doing things that you put off in your relationship. The time is now.

3. Have sleepovers.

Remember when you were younger and looked forward to sleepovers, movies, and late night talks with your best friends? Now do the exact same thing, except add rum, eggnog, the movie Elf, and a plan to brunch in the AM. We forget how much these experiences fill our soul. The only difference between then and now is that we’ve found that a nice red wine greatly helps to fill it too.

4. Holidays are for Family.

We often forget what it means to cherish our siblings. We forget what it’s like to laugh and build forts. We forget what it’s like to truly connect with family. We can take the people in our lives for granted and not let them know just how important they are. Being single offers us the opportunity to focus on family. Take your mom and dad on a date; have courageous conversations about fears and dreams and wins from the year. (If family isn’t available then see #3.)

5. Date your friends.

What a beautiful thing it is to have close friendships. Research shows that people who have close friendships are just as happy as people in great relationships. Bet you didn’t see that coming?! Take your friends out on a date. Our love doesn’t have to be limited to romantic love. Rekindle a friendship with someone that is important to you. Find love in ways you never thought you could.

6. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Go tobogganing, play shinny hockey, learn to ski, make naked snow angels, brew some hot chocolate and drive around and look at Christmas lights, ask that guy/girl out for a peppermint mocha. Find something that scares you and take the leap. The world has a beautiful way of catching us when we’re filling our souls and following our dreams. On the other side of fear is freedom.

When we look at being single as an opportunity to grow and nurture ourselves it opens our eyes to a world we never thought existed. A world where being single is a gift. How we use each day is a choice. I can readily admit that the holidays can be tough when we’re single, we can either take that energy and use it as a reason to stay the same, or we can see it as a gift of motivation. Motivation to want more. To believe in yourself again, to pursue your dreams and passions and see all of the other amazing facets of your life that you can flourish in. Romantic relationships are just one part. It’s when you start to see all the amazingness you already have in your life that you can forget about what you don’t have, and just focus on enjoying.

Rediscover what it means to love yourself, so you don’t need the love of others. You choose it. Be merry.

Seven Ways To Keep Yourself Sane During Winter

Winter is a restful and reflective time of year. It’s perfect for taking things a little slower and really looking at what your mind, body, and soul needs. And self care isn’t just about taking care of your body. It’s also about nourishing your emotional, mental, and psychological health.

Here are 7 tips to leave you feeling refreshed and uplifted in the colder months:

1) Get An Early Night

Winter can definitely make you more tired. As the days get shorter, our bodies produce more melatonin earlier which makes us sleepier. If you tend to go to go to sleep late, try getting to bed an hour earlier than you normally would. This will help balance your body’s sleep cycle and overall sense of wellbeing.

2) Dry Body Brushing

Cold winter weather can make your skin dry. Dry brushing exfoliates dead skin cells, increases circulation, and detoxes the lymphatic system. Do this every day before you bathe and see how much more refreshed you feel.

3) Go For A Gratitude Walk Every Day

When it comes to well-being, walking has countless benefits. Walking is a great form of low-impact exercise and it helps to reduce stress and improve your mood. It also gives your cells extra oxygen for improved regeneration. Bundle up in your coziest clothes and get out for a walk. While you’re at it, think about what you’re most grateful for.

4) Be Bold

Sometimes changing up your routine is just what you need on a dreary winter morning! Add more color to your outfit, or try styling your hair in a different way. Find some small way to change things up, and see if it makes a difference in how you feel.

5) Drink Water

Drinking enough water each day has amazing benefits for your energy, skin, digestive system, sleep, and concentration. So don’t forget to drink water when you first wake up, and then regularly throughout your day. In winter time, it’s especially important to keep your brain and body hydrated when the air is extremely dry. Remember that your body is mostly water!

6) Schedule Time For Rest

With all the holiday parties and events, it can be easy to pack your schedule with event after event in December. While having fun things planned is great for self care, having time to do absolutely nothing is just as necessary. Resting and recovering helps you replenish your energy, relax, and reflect.

7) Nourish Yourself

Colder weather can take a toll on your energy and immune system. Choose warming foods with lots of colorful veggies and add in a few extra spices to help warm you up. You are what you eat, so remember that good nutrition is key.

How to Refocus Your Love This Holiday Season

We are in the peak of breakup season and I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of love to give and no longer have a significant other to give it to. The love in your heart is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing gift and it should be given freely for others to treasure. This treasure doesn’t belong to your ex anymore, and you can’t force them to keep something of such incredible value. If they don’t care for it like the treasure that it is, find other ways to give your love this holiday season. It may be awkward at first because the people around you are used to you being MIA, off with your significant other somewhere. But once you make the effort, it is usually appreciated and returned. Thankfully, this is the best time of year to do that because there are so many opportunities to show love, even virtually.

Here are a few ways to refocus your love on something other than your ex throughout the holidays:

Family

If you are on good terms with your parents, they will be absolutely thrilled that you want to spend time with them this winter, whether it’s in person or virtually. Help them cook, bake, decorate, and/or clean if you’re spending the holiday together. Watch TV with them virtually if you’re not. Schedule more video calls. Just soak up these moments with your parents and family.

Friends

Friends are the family we choose. It can be hard to find your tribe after a breakup. You spent so much time with your ex, you’re not really sure who you’re close to anymore. Why not get closer to all of them!? Organize a virtual dinner party, or (digital) gift exchange, or pajama party complete with Netflix. Try to get a Zoom group together for karaoke or dancing. If you ignore your friends, who will give you biased, unqualified relationship advice when you start dating again? You need them!

Coworkers

If you think about it, the people you work with are the people you spend the most time with. You see them every single day for nine hours. If it’s not appropriate for you to befriend them, you can show love by showing you care. Do they seem overwhelmed? Ask if there’s anything you can take off their plate, or if not, encourage them to do head rolls while taking deep breaths for two minutes. Ask about dogs and kids. They will appreciate it and they will feel less alone. Build each other up. This is your team!

Strangers

One universal way to show love is by providing an act of service. Charity work is a beautiful thing, but it’s not the only way to give love to strangers. Let the dude next to you in traffic pass into your lane. Thank the people behind you with a wave when they do the same for you. They didn’t have to do that. See what ways you can support others from afar this holiday season. Charities are in dire need of helping hands, even if it’s remote.

Hobbies

These next three are more personal. When you’re trying to refocus your love, make sure you don’t run out of it by forgetting yourself. Hobbies get your creative juices flowing and put you in the zone, which is an ideal place to be. Make your hobby a habit by doing it every single day if you can, after all, your schedule did just clear up a bit. Take that time you usually spend with your ex and replace it with something like drawing, writing, reading, etc. Your hobbies will help get you in tune with who you are as an individual, rather than part of a pair. Learn what hobbies you like and what your interests are.

Your Body

Do you know the five love languages by Gary Chapman? Give your body some physical touch with a stretch or self-massage. Give it some words of affirmation because confidence can be hard to find after a breakup. Give it some quality time to rest overnight. Give it the gift of healthy food.  Soak up all that your body has to offer you and take good care of it. It’s the only one you’ve got!

Spirituality

If you are religious, spend some extra time getting in touch with your spiritual life through prayer this holiday season. Remember why you celebrate what you celebrate and make sure that meaning doesn’t get lost to you. Send some extra love to whoever or whatever you serve. If you are not religious, you can still embrace your own spirituality by practicing mindfulness. Meditation is a way to show love to yourself by getting in touch with your present moment experience, usually by focusing on your breath or a mantra. Inward exploration will reveal your true self, which you can practice by sitting in silence and solitude.

In all the ways you choose to love yourself and others, soak it all in by being present, and practicing gratitude. Being grateful for everything you are surrounded by and how everything in your past has shaped you into your amazing self will reveal new ways to show love in the present moment. It will make refocusing your love away from your ex a slightly easier process and a heartwarming challenge.

When To Seek Help After A Breakup

Everyone experiences heartbreak differently, but there are some symptoms that people tend to have in common: depression, lethargy, and anxiety to name a few. In fact, some instances of heartbreak can be so intense that it leads to a health condition called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome, which is normally triggered by unexpected extreme emotional or physical stress. The sudden release of stress hormones can shock the heart into exhibiting heart failure-like symptoms such as intense chest pain.

And while typically associated with romance, a broken heart can also apply to other kinds of losses such as the death of a family member and losing a job. There are many ways to break your heart, and knowing when to seek help is important if you’re struggling day-to-day.


What heartbreak does to you

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is rare, but heartbreak, in general, can still be debilitating enough to stop people from effectively going about their daily lives. It can cause numbness and apathy, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time and effort, as it’s your brain’s way of protecting you from experiencing the full effect of the emotional pain. You may also experience depression-like symptoms, including sleeping difficulties, anxiety, loss of interest in daily activities, and concentration problems.

Rumination and intrusive thoughts are also common for those experiencing heartbreak. This is when you obsessively think about your breakup, wondering what went wrong and why it ended. Thoughts of not having been good enough can lower your self-esteem and worsen your mental health. When your heartbreak becomes a chronic hurdle to your daily life, then you may need to seek help. If you’re having trouble going to work or school or completing basic tasks that you need to get done, those are all important signs to notice.

What to do if you’re heartbroken

While there’s no foolproof way of avoiding heartbreak, you can get yourself through the process in a healthy way. Prioritizing self-care will help you recover from the stress a broken heart can bring. For one, you should learn to be aware of your coping mechanisms to gauge if they’re healthy or not, watch out for common signs like a lack of appetite or urge to overeat. Exercise is also a good self-care habit as it produces endorphins that can combat post-breakup withdrawal symptoms.

Part of recovery is also allowing yourself to experience the feelings that come with the breakup to process the events better — a mental health specialist or therapist can help guide you through this process. These professionals are fortunately more accessible now through digital means so you can contact them more conveniently. They also have a better understanding of human behavior, so that they can help you come up with better coping mechanisms. Additionally, their knowledge in social psychology can be used to help you build stronger relationships with your friends and family to further support your recovery. You’ll be able to regain self-esteem as you get used to the feeling of being single again since you’ll realize again that you’re already good enough as you are.

You can also look for more support through healing classes with curriculums made especially to help you recover, such as post-breakup nutrition, letting go of a relationship (and an ex), and even dealing with heartbreak due to infidelity or divorce.

Heartbreak is one of the hardest things we experience, no doubt, and it has a major impact on how we feel emotionally and physically. What’s important is that you don’t rush your recovery and there’s no shame in reaching out if you need help.

7 Reasons Being Single During The Holidays Is The Best Thing Ever

Let me tell you something. Being single during the holiday season is by far the best time for singles, so don’t sweat it. I’m going to explain why.

1. Everyone Is An Emotional Mess

This time of year, every single person is getting attacked from all angles. You hear it from friends, you see it at parties, and unsuspecting grandmothers attack you at Thanksgiving dinner. Everybody asks you, “Why are you still single? I can’t believe another year’s gone by and you haven’t met somebody!” And that is what’s great.

People are open, vulnerable, and don’t have time to play games. It’s like the band-aid was ripped off and their open wound opens to the world. They are (suddenly) aware they are single and need to get out and meet someone. So, they will be more emotionally available and open to connect with you. After all, who wants to countdown at midnight on New Year’s Eve staring at the same drunken friend they did last year?

2. It’s Cheaper Being Single During The Holidays

You don’t have to go out and buy gifts for somebody who is going to say, “This isn’t my size” or “I would never wear this shirt.” Also, you won’t get a gift from someone and be disappointed.

You can buy yourself gifts. You can take advantage of the pre-Christmas and after Christmas sales. You can enjoy this time embracing your singlehood and spoiling yourself as Santa would.

3. Family Get-Togethers (Seriously)

I know, I know. Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, and some other holiday dinners are definitely tough when it comes to your family. Oh there’s Grandma Sue and Aunt Claire who are going to look at you and say, “Why can’t you meet a good husband like your sisters?”

Meanwhile, you know your sister is in a rocky relationship, but you would never say anything about it to Grandma Sue and Aunt Claire. So your standard responses will be, “I’m happy being single. It gives me the opportunity to meet someone I care about. And during the holidays, it’s a great time to meet men. It’s a friendly and open time and who knows, maybe Santa will deliver a great guy to me this year.” You joke about it, which leads us to step four.

4. Holiday Dates

It’s amazing. It’s an amazing time for singles. It really is. People are emotionally open and available. You get to go to all the parties and be the single person. You can carry mistletoe around with you. You can set up fun, little holiday dates. Eggnog, walks in the park, ice-skating. Have some fun. Be open. Take advantage of that. Go to as many holiday parties as possible. Which leads us to number five.

5. Tell People You Are Single

It’s a great thing. Tell people you are looking to go to holiday parties. Get invited to things. It’s the party season. You are going to connect with as many men as possible. Santa will deliver men to all these holiday parties. I strongly suggest you get on some type of holiday party list, and get invited to as many gatherings as possible.

6. Have A Party And Invite Hot Guys

New Years’ is just a night and that’s all it is. Don’t worry about being alone on New Year’s Eve. You could create an alternate “I hate New Year’s Eve” party. That’s right; start a NEW holiday party where it’s game night or potluck dinner. That could be interesting. Everybody needs to bring a dish and a hot man. Think outside the box, which leads us to number seven.

7. It’s Just A Month

But it’s a great month for you to build momentum for the next year. Forget about New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are never kept. Forget about how you’re going to meet a man in the new year. Start becoming more friendly, open and available now.

Watch the momentum you build and see the new year take off and become the best year of your life. December is a great month to set new intent, new goals and new attitudes.

Have fun, play, have a good time, enjoy yourself dressed up as a cute little elf. Have a good time and maybe you’ll meet your Santa this month. If not, due to the great attitude you’ve conveyed during the holiday season you’re definitely going to meet someone in the next year!

Life is all about mindset and attitude. And you, girl, you’re going to have that attitude. It’s going to carry you forward to an awesome new year, without a single New Year’s resolution needed.

4 Tips If Your Ex Reaches Out Over the Holidays

If you just went through a breakup, the holidays are bound to bring up memories of your ex. Everyone is a little more vulnerable, especially when it comes to exes.

For some, the holidays are a feel-good and jovial time. For others going through heartbreak, the holidays can trigger feelings of sadness or loneliness. This season is also prime time for exes to reach out to wish you happy holidays…or to tell you they miss you after too many glasses of eggnog at the office party. 

If you receive an unexpected message from your ex, it can really throw you off guard. Maybe you’re surprised to hear from them, or perhaps you anticipated it. What’s important is that you try to view the message from the same perspective you would if it wasn’t the holiday season.

Here are a few tips if an ex reaches out:

1. Don’t feel the pressure to respond immediately

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you owe your ex anything. Your response or lack of a response will depend on the nature of the breakup. If you parted on amicable terms, your ex reaching out to wish you a happy holiday likely means they are thinking of you. If you’re in a good emotional state and want to respond, that’s fine! It’s more than ok to say thank you and wish them a good holiday too.

2. Be mindful of the consequences

The waters get a little murkier when there are still strong feelings involved. Maybe you’ve worked hard to move forward since the breakup, and now that innocent low-key text makes you feel insecure and brings up unanswered questions: Do they want to get back together? Do they miss me? Have they changed? While thinking about these questions may be tempting, it’s important to remember that you’re still exes for a reason.

3. Reclaim your power

During this time, it’s important to reclaim your power. Stay strong and don’t let your ex undo the boundaries you created for yourself. It’s up to you whether you choose to engage with them or not. Trust your gut feeling. If you choose to respond, keep the conversation light and avoid getting into anything deep and meaningful.

4. Focus on yourself

Remember to keep a healthy perspective. A text is easy to send but can create so much anxiety. Focus on self care first. Use the holidays to focus on what really matters: your own happiness, self-care, and loved ones around you.

Five Ways I’m Making It Through The Holidays Post-Breakup

Christmas is a magical time. It’s when loved ones come together to enjoy the merriment and people are actually happy, although this year has been a little different for me.

A few weeks before the holiday season began, my relationship came to an end. It’s been a heartbreaking yet curious experience. While people are putting up Christmas trees and glugging down mulled wine, I’ve been starting a new chapter, and trying to not act like a Scrooge.

At first, I was anxious and apprehensive. Who’s going to help me pick out those awkward Christmas jumpers? What am I going to tell people at every Christmas event? Who am going to kiss at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? I turned my questions to other people. Are others going through the same ordeal I am? If they are, how can I help them?

I found solace in researching the science behind breakups. It turns out that it’s totally normal for relationships to end at this time of year. Yes, those Sam Smith songs on the radio are no coincidence, my friend. In fact, this is this the season for heartbreak. Facebook status data suggests that this is the season you are most likely to see a major peak in breakups.

Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the optimum time to draw strength from the people around you, or with the new year around the corner, maybe it’s a chance for a fresh start.

Whatever the reason, if you’re in this group you’re not alone. You are in good company. You are going to make it through the next few months, Christmas, and the new year!

It’s important to acknowledge that this holiday season will be different, but it’s an opportunity for you to form new traditions and memories. If you find yourself stuck, here are five ideas that may give you some comfort.

1. Focus On Giving

You may find that you have more time on your hands over the next few months. Your attention is the best gift you can give someone during the holiday season. Whether it’s volunteering at the local homeless shelter or helping an elderly person pack their shopping bag, many people could use a friendly shoulder to lean on at this time of year. Be that person and watch what starts to happen to your holiday spirit. I’ve found comfort in helping those in need by offering my time at a local shelter that serves hot meals to people who are less fortunate. It’s a small gesture but has the potential to make a big impact on someone’s life.

2. Be Festive

Smile. Bake pies to take to work. Write holiday cards. Wear silly jumpers. Get into the season. Don’t wait around for the season to get into you. Heck, I took 200 homemade samosas to work and the response was so uplifting.

3. Treat Yourself

Whether you’ve been wearing the same broken shoe for months and need to replace it, or if you want to enroll in that cooking class that starts in the new year, do it and do it now. You are worth every penny. There’s no time like the holiday season for you to do so.

4. Reconnect With Family & Friends

Your family isn’t perfect but their love and support are unconditional. Nothing else matters besides love. Go through old photo albums and relive funny memories with them. Enjoy the time you have with them because who knows when you’ll get busy again. I’ve been going to a lot of musicals with my family. It seems as though it’s the new tradition this holiday season – I hope it sticks!

5. Plan Ahead

However tempting it may be, don’t isolate yourself. Make plans for the days ahead. It’s crucial that you do this proactively. Take some time to think about what you want to do and who you want to do it with. Make a list. It’s such a gratifying process.

Remember, you have the unique opportunity to shift your focus to the people you care about, and most importantly, who care about you. Your happiness is the only thing worth fighting for.

5 Things Single People Can Do More Easily During The Holidays

This time of year is all about parties, family get-togethers, engagements, and celebrations. It can be hard to show up to all of these events alone and authentically in the holiday spirit.

However, when you’re single during the holidays, there are actually many benefits. Remember that people who are coupled up definitely endure their own stresses.

So if you’re feeling blue about not having someone to share the holiday season with, don’t fret. We’re here to show you the bright side.

1) Go The Events You Want

There’ll be no arguments about whose family you’re going to spend the holidays with or which company party to attend. You can do exactly what you want with whoever you want, and you can mix and mingle on your own terms.

2) Meet Someone New

Between the parties, hustle and bustle, and goodwill that’s in the air, the holidays are prime time to meet new people. It’s easier to strike up conversations and the parties and events also mean an abundance of opportunities to meet new friends and potential love interests for the new years.

3) Shine The Spotlight On Yourself

The holidays are an ideal time to catch up on all those things you said you wanted to do this year, but didn’t have time to do yet. The extra time off gives you time to recharge, pamper yourself, and think about your wants, needs, and goals.

4) Devote Time To Family, Friends, And Those In Need

Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to feel unloved. And the best way to get that holiday glow is to show love and appreciation to others. Use this time to have deeper conversations, laugh, and show gratitude to the people you have around you.

5) Travel

Being in a relationship usually comes with obligations around the holidays. Sometimes, your own needs can get left to the bottom of the pile. If you’re single, you have the freedom to go and do something completely different. Ever wanted to redecorate your home or plan a spontaneous yoga retreat vacation? Now you can without the input of someone else.

Being happy during the holidays isn’t dependent on whether you’re in a relationship or not. So focus on all the people you do have around you and the freedom you have to create some amazing holiday memories. And the best part is that it’s all on your terms!

How to Address Your Breakup at Thanksgiving Dinner

The only thing more dreadful than a holiday breakup is having to discuss the breakup over the holidays. And Thanksgiving dinner happens to be prime time for family members (especially the nosy ones!) to pry about your relationship status. If you brought someone to Thanksgiving last year and you’re alone at this year’s dinner , you’ll probably be getting questions about that too. 

So how exactly do you go about addressing your breakup at a dinner table full of extended family and friends?

Avoid The Details

Chances are you want to avoid getting into the details of it all. You might still be sensitive to the breakup and you’d rather enjoy dinner than lock yourself in a room crying because you just had to rehash it with everyone. Don’t feel like you owe your family all the details, especially around the dinner table. 

Guide The Conversation Elsewhere

One option is to go the route of honesty. You can always say something quick, like “We broke up, but I’m happy to be here with you all now so let’s just enjoy dinner.” if you’re not sure what to say. If more questions come up, you can explain that you’d rather not discuss your breakup right then. Thank them for their concern and guide the focus of the conversation toward something else. Pro tip: have a few other things to discuss instead (your latest project at work, a great movie you just saw, the crazy thing that happened last week on the train, etc.)

Shift The Perspective

Later on, if you find yourself in a conversation about your breakup, try taking a more gratitude-focused approach. Instead of sharing all of the negative aspects of the relationship, why it didn’t work, or how upset you are about it, you can open up about all of the positives that came from the breakup. 

Maybe you’ve uncovered some new interests or taken on new hobbies, or maybe you booked a really adventurous vacation that’s coming up. Talk about the things you are grateful for after the breakup this way the conversation revolves around the good and not the bad. Plus, your family will most likely want all the juicy details about these new interests, hobbies, or vacations more than they’ll want to know what your ex is up to.

Our best advice for Thanksgiving is to go into it knowing you’re probably going to be asked a lot about your relationship—or lack thereof. If you’re prepared, you’ll have a game plan for how to address it. These are people that love you and care about you. Being honest with them and shifting the conversation won’t make them love you any less. Remind yourself that sometimes their nosiness doesn’t come from a place of judgment, but instead it might be rooted in care and concern.

Keep it real with your loved ones. Make the focus of the evening on finding gratitude and you will all have a Thanksgiving dinner worth remembering. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Mend.

What To Do If You’re Heartbroken This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here and although the holidays represent joy and appreciation, this is also a big season for breakups. There’s even a name for breakups that happen around Thanksgiving: the turkey drop. 

And it’s easy to understand why breakups might happen more often during the holidays. As wonderful as they are, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays can also be sources of added pressure and stress, especially when people start asking you about your relationship status.

So if you find yourself in this situation, you are certainly not alone. Plus, there are many ways that you can still make this Thanksgiving a positive one. Here are some tips and advice to help you along the way.

1. Think about the true meaning of Thanksgiving

While you have every right to feel sad, try to remember that Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you do have, not what you don’t. Connect with friends and family on a deeper level this year. Be sure to make time for your friends and family. They are the ones who will ultimately help you through this hard time, so spend extra time making them feel special, heard, loved and understood. Giving to others in this way can really pick you up out of a sad mood.

2. Create new Thanksgiving rituals for yourself

You may be tempted to compare this year to previous ones with your ex. Those memories are to be honored, but right now, focus your attention on creating something meaning that feels special, nurturing and joyful to you. What can you do differently this year to mark a new memory? Perhaps host a get together with your close friends, volunteer, or set new positive intentions for yourself. Try something new that represents you embracing a new chapter.

3. Channel your energy into something new

Even though Thanksgiving is just one day, it can allow you an opportunity to try out a new hobby even before New Years. Start early! Maybe it’s learning a new language, trying a new sport, or immersing yourself in a subject that fascinates you. There are so many free resources that you can delve into if you’re not sure where to start. Keep in mind that participating in activities where you can connect with others can distract you from your breakup in a positive way. Think about what inspires you and go from there!

Although it may feel hard right now, this is a wonderful opportunity to bring the focus back to yourself and those around you.

It’s Officially Breakup Season, According to Facebook

If we refer back to historical  Facebook status data, we are just about to enter the second major peak in breakups of the year.

The first peak, dubbed the “Spring Clean,” occurs in March, but the second largest occurs about two weeks before the winter holidays. Right about now.

Why? It could be a lot of things. Maybe these breakups occur to avoid The Meeting of the Families. Maybe the vacation days are seen as a “good” time to breakup because both people will be surrounded by the comforts of home and family. Or maybe it’s time for a fresh start, with the New Year just around the corner. 

Regardless, if this data is any indication of what will happen this year, we are likely to see more breakups in the coming weeks than usual. It’s so common, in fact, that breakups this week have their own name:  the “turkey drop.”

So if you find yourself in this group, know that you are not alone. You are in good company, and you’re going to make it through the next few months. 

The first thing to acknowledge is that the holiday season may feel different if you’re used to spending it with a partner in crime. You might be thinking: Who will save me from the awkward conversation with Jill at Thanksgiving? Who will help me plan the ugly sweater potluck? Who will keep me company on that long red eye home? Who will I kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve?

It’s normal to ask these questions and feel anxious about the answers, but if you find yourself stuck in a rut for too long, here are some ideas for getting unstuck.

Focus on family and friends.

No family is perfect and many families these days are a melting pot of humans, some related and some not. This is the group that is always there for you, regardless of your relationship status. So take the time this year to focus on giving love and attention to them, especially the ones who are also not in romantic relationships.

Sit down with your older relatives and ask them questions about their lives so that you don’t have to make up 50% of the story when you try to re-tell it to friends. Go through old photo albums with your cousins and relive funny memories. Learn how to make that life changing bread that your uncle makes from scratch so that you can go home and make it for yourself. 

Your attention is the best gift you can give someone this time of year, and you luckily have more attention to dole out at family and friend gatherings this year if you’re single. Enjoy it, because you don’t know how long it will last. 

Focus on those in need

There are a lot of people around you who will have difficulty making it through the holidays too, and it’s not because they’re going through a breakup. Many people, and the organizations that help those people, could use an extra hand during the holiday season.

Whether you donate your time, talent or money, giving to others is a great tradition to start this holiday season and keep going throughout the year. Many companies get involved with non-profit organizations during the holidays, so ask around the office and see how you can contribute or get something started. If you want to volunteer but don’t know where to go, check out the listings at Volunteer Match.

Plan ahead for solo travel

If you usually travel home or go on vacation with your significant other for the holidays, you might find travel plans a bit more daunting this year. Instead of focusing on all of the people who are coupled up around you at the airport or train station, plan ahead and keep yourself occupied.

Make playlists for long rides. Get into a podcast. Write your holiday cards. Read that book you’ve had on your nightstand for a year, or, even more comforting, download the audio book and listen to it. If you’re feeling lonely as you make your way from point A to point B, call a few friends you’ve been meaning to catch up with and wish them happy holidays.

Most important, make sure that you proactively make plans for the big holiday days in November and December if you are staying local. Even if it’s just ordering takeout with a few friends who are also staying in town, it’s important that you don’t isolate yourself, even if you feel like staying in bed till 2020.

Remember, you have the unique opportunity to shift your focus from your ex to people that you may not have prioritized when you were coupled up (your family, your friends, strangers and yourself). Take it!

How Oliver Sacks’ Book ‘Gratitude’ Helped Me through My Breakup

I want to be sad. I want to lumber through my house, brush my teeth, and forget about parking tickets and people. I want to focus on my body and protect my heart — with muscle.

Since the breakup, I have been going to the gym almost every day. I added an extra gym day to the week and added another set to every workout. I am lifting more on every machine. I refuse to say “heartbroken” because the word sounds mawkish. I am pierced up — septum and nostril piercings adorn my nose — and I have been fake-tanning a bit more than usual.

As I write this, I am on vacation in Florida with my family. I keep wandering away from them to walk on the beach alone. Spring Break tweenagers and straight couples pass by. I do not say “morose” or “shattered,” but here on the edge of the Atlantic, these words seem closer to real life. I feel it in my body, a lead weight I’m carrying around, and it’s him.

I miss having a second set of eyes on the world and a different set of thoughts to compare mine to. My ex was always more perceptive than me, more street smart. Where I see cynicism and dark portents, he would see kids in matching bathing suits playing in the surf and hot daddies walking down the beach. He allowed the world to be what it was without any absurd and heavy projection. I’m a writer, so everything becomes a reflection of myself. It’s a form of self-aggrandizement that makes me the main character in my inner narrative — and makes dating a storyteller a terrible idea.

My ex-boyfriend wasn’t like me. He commented on hot guys and loved video games and got excited about people he thought were interesting and genuine. He probably would not admit this to anyone, least of all himself, but he fostered a kind of joy for the world that I admired, and am now trying to learn for myself. It was one quality about him that I loved — one of many.

There are dozens of articles on the Internet that tell you how to handle a breakup. Many list “what to do” or “what not to do” with cute illustrations and infographics. These always seem reductive to me because I do not believe such a personal thing can be reduced to a set of rules that inevitably reflect someone else’s bias, some other writer’s experience. No two breakups happen the same way, and mistakes you make in one might not be mistakes in another.

Therefore, I think the only way to write about breakups and to offer advice is to tell one’s own story, completely personal and applicable only to oneself, and see if anyone else gets something out of it. And that’s what I’ll attempt to do.

My breakup is a story riddled with mistakes, most of them I made while I was still a boyfriend. In fact, the worst mistakes I’ve ever made with men occurred while I was still with them — acts of selfishness and cruelty, a cutting remark at the edge of the bed, a blatant lie. I don’t know if it’s possible to make mistakes in the course of a breakup — or, if I’m being honest, in life in general. 

When you’re newly single, people expect you to stumble home drunk. We pardon you if you start crying at the prologue of a book. You are given a few bad nights, a few sad fucks. If you turn to hard drugs, there are ways out of that, but regardless if you’re having Netflix binges or meth binges, you will still have to learn to help yourself. 

No one else will get you out of a pit — no one else can. On a lifelong scale, the concept of “mistakes” becomes useless. People inevitably fuck up, and our fuck-ups sometimes change our lives, but if you live to be eighty then you survived them, and if you don’t, you didn’t. There’s little point in regretting errors. My breakup has been a process of letting go of regrets — regret for moving to L.A. and leaving him behind, regret for fights we had and things I said, regret for various mistakes I have made — and moving forward.

This post was originally titled “How To Heal From A Gay Breakup,” but I don’t know how to heal from a gay breakup. I do not have any sure methods for finding peace with the man you used to love, or still do. If it ended badly, with emotional or physical violence, I cannot begin to encapsulate that pain into words, and it would be a disservice to guys experiencing it for me to try to do so. Mine didn’t end violently, and neither of us have the luxury of hating each other, so I can’t speak to that. I encourage you to find a support group and to talk about it to somebody, because the only thing worse than suffering is suffering alone.

Here’s what has helped me. I recently read a book called Gratitude by the author and clinician Oliver Sacks, published posthumously. Gratitude is four essays that Sacks wrote during the final few years of his life. The fourth and last one, “Sabbath,” was written two weeks before his death of terminal cancer.

It was a death he saw coming and, as a medical writer, one he faced with the only tools he knew to fight with — pen and paper. At the age of 81 and facing a painful final few months, Sacks writes, “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.”

That is an intercourse I want to have in life. To a grander extent, that is the purpose of this blog and of everything I do.

His essay “My Own Life” closes with this sentiment: “Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

I read it on the beach. When I put it down, I was crying. As I write this, I am still crying, thumbing through this little book filled with black and white photographs of the author that his partner Billy took. I want that kind of love, a furious and defiant gay love that publishes books posthumously and holds on till the end. I didn’t want that kind of love when I started dating my ex, and wouldn’t have admitted that I wanted it during most of our relationship. 

But now, three months after its close, I will concede on something that I never told him. I want a partner. This rabble-rousing, piggy homo with penchants for political discussion and dirty darkrooms wants, to his surprise, someone to share these things with. Who knew?

I have been trying to get him back. I even drove back across the country, from California to Georgia, to try and fix it, and was prepared to do everything I could to do so, even if that meant doing the M-Word — monogamy — and putting my crazy fantasies to rest. In a city like Los Angeles, where I could indulge every perversion imaginable, I was ready to trade every one for one night with him in the bed we used to share, and to some degree I still am. But he has moved on, and hardly seems to notice I’m back. My efforts to fix things have been met with something worse than hard refusal — apathy.

I was going to propose. I had a ring, which I sent back. I was going to take him on a walk down one of the wooded trails on my parents’ farm last Thanksgiving, which he was planning to spend with me and my family. I was going to casually reach over and put something in his hand and drop on one knee in the dirt. Two weeks before I was to fly back home, he called me in the early afternoon. The first thing he said was, “Alex, I’ve made a decision. I want us to break up.”

In the rough three (almost four) months that followed, which have seen me fall into a bad depression, I have come to understand more fully his reasons for ending things and have even admitted that he made the right decision. I have also made a too-late effort to fight for us. I have not once thought about gratitude.

Maybe gratitude comes at the tail end of the healing process, once you’ve put aside anger and resentment. I cannot say that I am fully there yet — seeing him downtown still ruins my night — but I am grateful for the time I spent with him and for the ways he changed me.

And while we’re on the subject, I am grateful for all my exes and past relationships, even the ones that ended badly, with shouting matches and shoving. It is common for us to talk about “lessons” when discussing painful experiences, and I suppose deriving lessons from life is a good way to live. But even without “lessons” or a way to quantify experience into something useful, I am thankful simply for having nights that were not spent alone, for feeling my heart flutter a few times, and for having the opportunity to check myself in the mirror and check my breath before meeting guys I liked.

I could not imagine being in Oliver Sacks’ shoes and letting go of these things, which are surely life’s greatest treasures. If I was going to die soon, the only lasting sentiment I could conjure from my time on earth, the only advice I could give those I would leave behind, is to enjoy those moments of intimacy and excitement that others give you. Be thankful for them, and try to remember them — forget the rest. And love yourself more than anyone else.

That last sentiment is one I have been struggling to follow lately, but I’m getting there. If you are dealing with a breakup, go read Oliver Sacks’ last book, Gratitude. Find a routine, whether it’s a job, gym regimen, or the practice of making bonbons every Wednesday. My routine has been heavily reliant on the gym and tanning salon, and my shoulders feel it. My skin feels it. I’m planning a Prince Albert piercing soon.

A shallow fixation on my body may not be the healthiest way to recover, but it keeps away the drugs and the loneliness and gives me a chance to see my gym buddy and best friend every night, who ask me how I am doing. The regulars of my gym have become side characters in my story of getting back to a better place: the Russian tank who can lift max weight on every machine with one arm, the bearded and tatted stud who disappeared for a few months (we fantasize it was jail time), the friendly manager with breast implants, and even the obnoxious, incessant whistler who pretends that the whole gym is captivated at the spectacle of his workout. I’m their friend with the septum piercing, a pup without an owner, the sad homo who wanders through the weights, head down.

I’m looking up a little more these days. I’ll be okay.

4 Books To Read This Winter That Will Help With Your Relationships

Winter is the perfect time to hibernate with a book, whether it’s for entertainment or to learn something new.

So, we’ve put together a list of our favorite relationship and well-being books you might want to add to your reading list this season.

1. The State of Affairs – Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel

We’re a huge fan of couples therapist Esther Perel. Her latest book offers a deep perspective on why cheating and affairs can happen, as well as the impact it has on happiness and identity. Some of the questions Esther addresses are: why people cheat so much when it’s so forbidden, why cheating can happen in happy relationships, and whether it’s possible to love two people at once. It’s a completely fresh perspective on infidelity that will be helpful whether you’re in a relationship or not.

2. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

This book looks at why true belonging doesn’t mean us changing who we are, but rather embracing who we are at our core. Brown sheds light on how we can cultivate a deeper sense of belonging to our communities, organizations, and cultures. Give it a read if you’re feeling lonely or craving a sense of belonging.

3. Becoming: Sex, Second Chances, and Figuring Out Who the Hell I Am by Laura Jane Williams

This is a funny and hugely relatable read. It’s a light-hearted read but definitely hits home when it comes to heartbreak. Williams writes about her experience being dumped by the guy she thought she would marry and talks about how she tried to fill that void with alcohol, dates, and sex. She then decides to take control of her life by being celibate for one year, traveling through Italy, America, Paris and the UK. She finds herself along the way and discovers that no matter how bad you think you have it, you’re always doing better than you think!

4. Quantum Love: Use Your Body’s Atomic Energy to Create the Relationship You Desire by Laura Berman, Ph.D

This is a really interesting look at love, sex, and relationships through a more metaphysical lens. Berman gives practical advice on how to reach a higher level of love within yourself and with your partner. She uses quantum physics (explained in fairly simple terms) to help the reader figure out patterns that aren’t working for them, and then how to replace them with better ones. She also gives tips on how to work consciously with the energy of your body, heart, and mind to make the honeymoon period in a relationship last while being true to yourself.

We hope you enjoy these and happy reading!

Comedian Alyssa Litman on Her Halloween Breakup

It was all hallows eve and the trick or treaters were running amuck in my neighborhood. I spent the day at my internship dressed as Holly Golightly, eagerly awaiting my evening plans. My roommate and I were going on a double date, with some guys we had been seeing for several months, to a spooky hipster Halloween party in Silverlake. Open bar? DJ? Sold.

After work, I texted my date to hash out the details of our plan.

No response.

My roommate was asking me to meet up with her, so I decided to just cut to the chase and give him a call. He answered sounding very hesitant.

“Listen I’ve been thinking….” he started.

Shit. A guy telling you he’s been thinking is never a good thing. Guys hate thinking.

Panicking, I tried to deflect whatever he was about to say by being the really chill girl:

“Whatever it is, can we talk about it tomorrow? It’s Halloween, let’s just get drunk and have fun.” My self-esteem was just radiating through the phone.

“That’s the thing, Halloween just seems so official to me, and I’m not ready to be that official with you yet, in public in front of everyone.” Said the boy who had introduced me to his whole family over a home cooked meal the previous weekend

I felt the tears start to roll down my face as I sat in six-o clock traffic.

“Wait, so what are you trying to say then? You’re just done with this right now?” I asked.

“It’s just that I’m in a really weird place and we keep getting so close. When I’m with you it makes happy, but then I feel sick about it because I’m not ready” he explained.

Ouch. I cried until my Hepburn cat-eye looked more like Beetlejuice. Part of me knew he had been indecisive about this relationship, but I just felt so betrayed. I had never been dumped out of the blue before. My past relationships typically ended under somewhat mutual terms where neither person felt so blind-sided. It was a strange having someone who had opened up to you about their most private feelings and insecurities suddenly treat you like an acquaintance. The whole situation was just a low blow.

He was at least decent enough to listen to me sob on the phone for a while and pretend like we could still be friends. He even invited me over to drink whiskey and hand out Halloween candy so that I wouldn’t be alone for the evening. Yeah right, not in a million years buddy.

After we hung up, I sat in my car and cried until I ran out of face water. That’s when I realized little kids dressed in princess and ninja costumes were pointing at me in fear. I opened the car door and a couple little girls screamed at the sight of my puffy, snot covered face. Sorry kids, this is what a broken heart looks like.

Deal with it.

Thank goodness for my mother and my best friends or else I never would’ve pulled myself together and put on what was arguably my coolest Halloween costume ever: Darth Vader.

At the end of the day, whether you do the dumping or you’re surprised by the one you love in the worst way, breakups are really hard to accept and even harder to get over. Here are a couple tools that have kept me from waiting outside an ex’s house all night to get a glimpse of their new love interest/ beg them to take me back. Not that I would ever really do that…

Things You Need:

-Your Person
It could be your mother, father, best friend, or neighbor. Anyone who is willing to let you sleep next to them in their bed, drag your depressed ass around to do errands all day or inappropriately binge drink with you on a week night. Cherish this person they will be your rock through your healing process. Bonus points if they convince you not to text him.

-Lighthearted Netflix series to binge watch.
I chose New Girl which happens to start out with Zooey getting dumped. Some other suggestions include United States of Tara, Orange is the New Black, Girls, Weeds, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, American Horror Story. Anything that involves an awesome female mostly doing things that do not involve finding prince charming.

-Mecca of junk food.
In the wise words of tumblr: love dies, pizza is forever.

-New Workout Class
If you feel like you’re gonna pull a Lorena Bobbitt on any guy that comes near you, then try taking a more female-centered class such as Pop Physique. Nothing makes someone regret dumping you more than revenge hotness. Plus endorphins make you happy, it’s science.

-New Hangout Spots
As difficult as it might be, don’t go to that bar he always went to, or that yoga class, or that grocery store. I know you secretly want to run into him but this will just undo all of your hard work and progress. Trust me, just stay away. Explore new spots and make them your own.

-New Perspective
I know this one is super cheesy and seems really unhelpful, but once you’ve had an appropriate amount of ugly cries it’s time to look at things a new way. Breakups leave you with nothing but new possibilities. Yes this can be scary at first when you have nothing but thoughts of your ex, but soon it’ll seem liberating. Whether that new thing is a hobby or a new beau, it’s probably better than the last guy.

Things you don’t need:

-Your Cellphone/ Laptop/ Social Media.
Leave your cell out of reach for at least the first week so you’re not tempted to call him. I swear, the time will go by much faster. It will minimize the amount of times you feel the urge to text him, and you’ll slowly realize you can be happy without his constant attention.

-A New Boyfriend Immediately
Yes, there are rebound hookups but most of the time they do more damage than good. Usually they just start the same cycle of dependency and hurt over again. Take time to be sad, and then heal, and then rediscover yourself. You’re fabulous, spend time with you.

-Alcohol When You’re Alone
Sometimes alcohol with your friends can allow you to let go of hurtful thoughts for an evening. A bottle of wine when you’re alone however will probably just end up with you drunk calling, texting, or stalking him and we all know you’re better than that so just stay sober while you’re alone.

Breaking up with someone is always difficult for both parties, but the best thing you can do is bow out gracefully. The best revenge is to act like you’re unaffected. Trust me, it drives them crazy.

Wellness Guide to Paris

Paris may be known as the City of Light, but it’s also quickly becoming a haven for holistic wellness, thanks to a host of new wellbeing destinations, spas, and healthy cafes that have sprung up in recent years.

If you find yourself looking to slow down and mend in Paris and you have a bit of a budget to spend, here are our favorite addresses in the City of Light for practicing self-care and nourishing yourself with healthy and delicious food. If you’re low on budget, you can always grab some take-out from a healthy spot and search for the nearest garden to enjoy a picnic. Our favorite parks for relaxing are Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Palais-Royale, Square du Temple, and of course, the most classic option: Jardin du Luxembourg.

Belleyme – Infrared sauna & cafe

One of the few spas to offer infrared sauna therapy in Paris, Belleyme is a gorgeous new destination in the Marais that offers 50-minute infrared sauna sessions in two chic cabins. You can reserve a session online for one or two people at a time. The session includes time for you to use the in-cabin shower and dressing room after your sauna. You may then also want to stay for a healthy snack in their rose-hued cafe (their staff speaks both French and English), which offers a menu of superfood-infused food and healthy drinks.

Belleyme Paris: 8 rue Charles-François Dupuis 75003 Paris

Maison Alaena – Holistic spa & tea room

Perched on the 8th floor of an unassuming high rise on rue de Paradis, this is one of the best-kept secrets for holistic wellness and beauty in Paris right now. With stunning views of Sacre Cour and the Eiffel Tower, this sanctuary-like space offers sunrise and sunset yoga, massages, face and body treatments, micro-nutrition consultations & hammam sessions. Their tea room menu offers both savory and sweet items that are crafted to be low-glycemic, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Their English and French-speaking team will warmly welcome you, and you can reserve both treatments and tea room bookings online.

Maison Alaena: 32 rue de Paradis 75010 Paris

Gynécée – Wellbeing center for women, by women

In the heart of the 9th arrondissement, Gynécée launched in 2020 as “La maison de la femme,” offering a wide-ranging menu of women’s health services and workshops (in French) in a beautiful home-like environment. Their goal is to follow women from puberty to menopause and beyond, with a particular focus on maternity support.

Gynécée: 62 rue blanche, 75009 Paris

House of Yoga (HOY) – Conscious hotel, yoga studio, spa & restaurant

HOY is a new model of hospitality, one that has yoga as its central pillar. The team here focuses on inspiring wellbeing for both Parisians who are stopping through, as well as visitors from afar. In addition to their consciously crafted rooms, HOY offers a yoga studio (the first dark studio in Paris with infrared light), wellness treatments, and Mesa, a Latin-inspired 100% plant-based restaurant.

HOY: 68 Rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris

And last but not least, here are some of our favorite Paris restaurants and bakeries to find a healthy meal, one that will leave you feeling nourished and satisfied. Most of these restaurants offer predominantly plant-based menus, with gluten-free options. Paris is no longer a city where it is hard to be a vegetarian or vegan and enjoy delicious restaurant food.

Our Favorite Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free Paris Restaurants:

Jah Jah by Le Tricycle – Afro-vegan food in the 10th arrondisement

Plan D – Vegan street food, sandwiches & ice cream by Canal-Saint Martin

Sol Semilla – Vegan superfood bowls, soups & drinks by Canal-Saint Martin

Apeti – Plant-based, organic & gluten free cafe in the 6th arrondisement

Sapid – Affordable & plant driven menu by chef Alain Ducasse in the 10th arrondisement

La Guingette d’Angele – Local & gluten free cafés by naturopath Angèle Ferreux-Maeght

Judy Market – Balanced & gluten free food by Luxembourg Gardens

Maisie Cafe – Gluten free & vegan cafe by the Jardin des Tuileries

Noglu – Gluten free bakery & cafe with 2 locations in Paris

Land & Monkeys – 100% vegan bakeries with incredible variety

Bon appétit!

How To Bounce Back After A Summer Fling

Summer flings can feel amazing. They can feel exotic, exciting, exhilarating and like life couldn’t be better.

So when you cram all of those intense highs into a short period of time and then it ends, bouncing back from a summertime fling can be particularly difficult.

The summer season, going away, or just being in more of a vacation mode can mean that you approach love and dating differently. You can find yourself attracted to people you wouldn’t be – maybe someone who you know long-term isn’t quite right for you – or you can overlook your boundaries and better judgment in favor of the romance.

Here are some tips to help you bounce back from summertime sadness:

1. Give yourself perspective. Be aware that even if it feels like you knew the person really well, a few weeks or even a whole summer isn’t enough time to truly get to know someone. How you feel right now is real, definitely, but trust as more time goes on, you will start to see the holes in that relationship that you perhaps can’t see now.

2. Get inspired by it. Ask yourself what felt great about that relationship. So if you felt excitement and freedom, how can you bring more of that into your life? Use what made you feel really good as inspiration to incorporate that into your day-to-day world.

3. Find the purpose. Be grateful that you got to experience it. See this relationship, however short-lived, as something you gained, not something and someone you lost. Summer romances make for amazing memories that you might remember forever. So cherish that and celebrate it as opposed to dwelling that it’s over. Try to feel happy that you experienced it and recognize how much it enriched your life. Not all relationships are meant to last. Many are supposed to be short-term. They still serve a big purpose. What was that purpose for you? Choose to focus on that.

4. Focus on self care. Make sure you have plenty of self-care rituals during this time. Create new memories that represent this new season of your life. Fill your time with friends, hobbies, goals, and new experiences. Try and avoid living in the past of that romance. Trust, that as it didn’t take you long to fall for that person, it won’t take you long to move forward from them either. Put yourself first and aim to make each day from here as nourishing and fulfilling as possible.

Finally, have faith that as each day goes by and as you start your daily rituals and routines again, bit by bit, you will start to feel better.

I Used To Run From Pain

I used to run from pain.

My father died suddenly when I was six. For years I stuffed it down, never letting anyone know my emotions, how I was feeling, and I ran from situations that could cause me to lose, to feel pain.

My heart would jump and feel fear every time I received a “bad” email from a boss, or bad news. I only wanted to feel good things. I stayed out of relationships for fear of the eventual loss and bad feelings, not realizing that I was missing out on all the beauty in between.

A year ago, my journey to feeling pain began. I had decided a few months before that I would open myself up to a relationship. I was ready to see what was out there. I was ready to feel, whatever it was. I met an amazing guy, and I thought he was the weirdest but most fascinating and beautiful person I’d met in a while.

There was lots of love and tenderness between us. I think we were very similar, and both subconsciously wanted ours to be a beautiful, painless relationship. We were precious with the time we spent together, and never fought.

The first pain between us came after a few months. I wanted to know where this relationship was “going.” I wanted him to be my boyfriend, officially.

He told me he felt almost everything for me—intellectual stimulation, passion—but not an emotional connection. He wanted our relationship to continue on as it was: seeing each other three or four times a week, no expectations of what this was or would be.

Our relationship was already beautiful, why did that need to change? We committed to only see each other without calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend.

As time went on, I stuffed down all of my doubts about our relationship. I pushed away the full days that for some unknowable reason I wanted to end it. (I had no solid explanation, but a feeling.)

I ignored the red flags of someone who was just not ready to commit. I ignored my heart telling me that this wasn’t the kind of relationship I really wanted. But I continued on as before, making the moments we had together as happy and as beautiful and as magical as I could, and he did too.

Until right before I was leaving for a weeklong work trip. He asked me out of the blue what I thought about seeing other people. Valentine’s Day had been a week before, and I had seen no signs of him feelings this way. He had gifted me with a small figurine of an elephant carved inside a latticed egg, because he knew I loved elephants.

I felt sharp pain, and shock. We were walking my dog, and I walked away from him and was silent until we made it back up to my apartment. “Lauren,” he said. “I just want to talk to you.” Please just let me do that, his eyes said.

So we did, we talked: He told me how in the past he’d had relationship doubts and hadn’t expressed them, and how he felt that relationship had gone on without him. The next morning gave no conclusion, but we were tender with each other and he whispered, “I’ll miss you,” before he walked down the subway stairs to work.

When I returned a week later, he picked me up at the airport, and when we got back to my apartment, he coldly told me he couldn’t sleep over: He wanted to be emotionally open to other people.

My heart broke. I cried and made him stay the night. And I was a wreck the whole next day. But something in me felt freed, something in me felt that this was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

I had been so afraid to tell him how I felt, to tell him my own doubts and insecurities about how he made me feel, that I just didn’t tell him. Crying and feeling the emotional hurt of the split was incredibly painful, but was the truest and most raw emotion I’d felt in months.

When I looked at the elephant figurine he had given me, I realized that it wasn’t beautiful; it was trapped inside a structure of its own making.

The fear that was holding me back had come true: that we could break up. But it happened, I felt it, and I was still there, still very much myself.

Two weeks later, I found out my beloved dog Bella had cancer, and a week later, I had to do one of the hardest things I’ve had to do—take her to the vet and put her to sleep.

Even as her body broke down, her spirit stayed strong: At the vet, I left her on a friend’s lap and briefly left the room, and when I returned, she tried to jump into my arms. Two of my closest friends were with me in the room, and after it happened we just hugged each other and cried. It felt strangely good and freeing to be able to cry together with someone, to feel pain together.

A part of me thought that the loss of my relationship was just preparing me for this loss.

Through all of this, my older brother had been fighting cancer. He was diagnosed almost three and a half years ago, and had fought it with his life ever since. In between chemo and radiation, he surfed, traveled, coached his kids’ soccer teams, and was an inspiration to all who knew him.

A month ago, he needed an emergency visit to the hospital: He had fluid in his lungs and spent five days with a nurse visiting his home to drain them. I went home to see him and he was thin, carrying an oxygen tank around with him, but his spirits were high.

He was happy to see me. I told him about a recent trip to Turkey, about Bella, about my relationship. He listened to my pain and gave me advice.

A couple months back, he succumbed to his disease, surrounded by his wife and two children. At his funeral the priest, who knew him well, recounted how my brother told him that the past three years had been some of the happiest of his life.

I know my brother felt great pain, physically and emotionally, and he hid it from most of us. But he pushed through it to give his wife and daughters as much of himself as he could.

And now I’m in so much pain that it all runs together, the relationship, my dog, my brother—I don’t know what to feel first. But the strangest thing is that it is the most alive I’ve felt in years, to allow myself to just feel all that I am feeling, and not judge it, or push it away.

Allow yourself to feel pain, to sit with it. To build relationships that you may one day lose, for whatever reason.

Holding pain will be hardest thing you do. Feeling pain is the bravest fight you will fight. Running, avoidance, fear in whatever form, it all brings you further away from being a full, feeling person.

Pain is clarifying, cleansing. True.

You feel this pain because you loved so hard, because you felt so hard.

Walk bravely through pain’s cleansing fire, although it scares you, although it burns so bright that you walk in knowing it will hurt. You will come out on the other side stronger and more complete.

I don’t know what your pain is. We all hold it, some pain, inside of us; we carry it with us. And that’s fine, it really is.

There is a beauty in pain that that even happiness cannot touch, because you risked, you loved, you let yourself feel. Pain will be the thing that brings you to yourself, before and after pain—before, there is happiness, after, there is transcendence.

Pain is a part of your experience, not something to run from, to escape. Pain will find you somehow, and to go through its cleansing fire will be one of the truest things that can happen to you in your life, if you let it.

Maude Founder Éva Goicochea’s Advice on Breakups, Marriage, and Rejection

What doesn’t Éva Goicochea do? She is the founder and CEO of Maude, a brand for inclusive bedroom essentials. She also co-founded Tinker Watches. Before starting her own companies, she helped launch many brands, including Everlane. You can follow her on Instagram @evagoicochea. And don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone if you spend the next 15 minutes scrolling 150 weeks deep into her dreamy feed because we just did too.

HOW A PUP HELPED HER THROUGH A BREAKUP
“When I was 18, I was preparing to move to New York from California. I met a guy, let’s name him Bob. Well, Bob doesn’t sound like a heartbreaker, so let’s name him Sam. Sam and I fell in love quickly, because at that point we were only 18. I moved to New York and a year later he followed me. I ended up getting him a job where I worked, which was a gym. I started to notice that he was getting pretty friendly with someone and long story short, he cheated on me and kind of took over my life. It felt like a single white female situation, but with my romantic partner, because I basically gave him my life in New York.”

“My first inclination was to just sort of shut down and really be in despair, but about 2 or 3 months before we broke up, I had gotten a dog. I remember looking at her and thinking, I can’t fall apart, this little dog depends on me. For me, animals have always been healing. They offer unconditional love, but they are also dependent on you, which is kind of that encouragement, like: “come on pull yourself up, you’ve got to go!” I don’t think you have to have a pet to experience that, but I would recommend that people have someone or something that depends on them or something that they need to do to refocus their energy on. For me that was really important.”

THE ADVICE SHE’D GIVE HER 18-YEAR OLD SELF
“I think I would say a lot of things. First, this is not going to be your last or only heartache. Secondly, maybe now that I’m married it is easier to say this, but I recognize so much of the power of being happy with one’s self and realizing your own dreams. If you’re doing it next to somebody or with somebody in a really great relationship, then great, but at all times you should be doing that, so that if and when the rug gets pulled out from underneath you, you still have something to live for, focus on and care about.”

“For me it was in college that I started to say to myself, I really haven’t been living in NY, so I need to go out and have a great time. I made travel plans and just poured myself into living again, and being responsible for this little dog. That would be my advice for my 18 year old self: don’t let love be all consuming in that you forget everything else. Try to keep a balance.”

BECOMING THE HEARTBREAKER
“Well, I have to say after that first heartbreak, I ended up being the heartbreaker. I think it made me really resilient because the way that it all happened was really devastating. But I would say my most recent heartache wasn’t romantic, it was losing a pet. Whether you’re losing a pet, or a friend, or a parent, or your boyfriend, or your girlfriend or whatever it is: loss is not just missing them. It’s also your patterns and how every day things change. ”

“When you’re talking in a romantic context, it’s important to own your everyday. My heartbreak was that I lost a cat, who was eaten by a coyote. And the heartbreak for me was that I had interacted with this cat every day. He was truly lovely, kind, sweet, and always laid next to you. The biggest heartache, I realized, was that loss of his presence. I think if he was far away on vacation and I could talk to him on the phone or something that might be better. But it was the loss of that connection.”

INVEST YOUR ENERGY INTO SOMETHING ELSE
“I’ve always been on to the next thing, not with the intention to replace, but with the intention to invest my energy into something. It’s really hard to be broken up with by a person and to remember that you’re lovable and you just have to go out there and have a great interaction with somebody over coffee, or flirt with a friend you’ve always had a little something with. Something to make you recognize that you haven’t been put on the shelf. Just go out and interact with other people so you get that level of energy and communication that you’re missing instead of just retreating into your house.”

A CLOSED BOOK
“If things aren’t very clean, I tend to, like most people, go back and think about what I could have said differently or done differently. When it comes to being cheated on, I feel stupid and I’ve definitely been cheated on more than once. I look back and think, wow, I could have handled this differently, instead of recognizing that you either let it go or let it out. You can’t just contain it.”

“So in my case, many, many years later, I ended up being in the same city again as that boyfriend [who cheated on me], and we had dinner and talked about it. I got what I needed from that, and then I never saw him again. It was really weird and interesting to finally think, okay, I’m older and I actually don’t care and I don’t even like you as a person. Getting to have dinner made me feel better. It wasn’t even that I was still sad about it, I just wanted it to be a closed book.”

CAN EXES BE FRIENDS?
“This is hard. I would love to say that yes, exes can be friends, but unless it was really amicable and both people were really done, that is really hard for people to do because it is typically one-sided. Especially if you want to move on and you want your next partner to feel comfortable, because that invested time you have in the other person and that closeness with them doesn’t really go away. You can not talk to someone for 10 years, but you knew so much about them that it is definitely not just a friendship. I don’t think it’s possible, but who knows.”

“I don’t have any exes that I’m connected with on social media. I think a lot for the future girlfriend, I don’t want to be the ex that somebody is still connected with. I’m definitely friends with people that I’ve gone out on dates with, but nobody that I was with for a significant amount of time. I’ve been a serial monogamist: all of my relationships have been more than two years long, and I’ve been with my husband 7 years, married 5 and a half of those. So it’s a little different, we were quite young when we got married.”

2 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT YOUR PARTNER
“I think love comes down to two things, and maybe it sounds a little off the wall: they have to be the best roommate that you could ever have and the best travel companion that you could ever have. Those are two situations where the best of friends can turn into enemies, and you can realize while traveling or living together that your priorities are very different.”

“So if you can do those two things with somebody, I think you’re okay. Living together means really dealing with it all, and traveling is really about understanding someone’s pace, as in, who wants to get up early to go to the museum and who wants to lay on the beach all day. Those can be the things that keep you together.”

HER FAVORITE SONG ABOUT HEARTBREAK
David Gray, The Other Side. In it, he basically says, ‘I still don’t know what love is, but I’ll see you on the other side.’ I don’t if the other side means death, but I really think it just means in the next place. It’s an interesting thing and I still really like the line ‘I still don’t know what love is’ because it’s this recognition that you’re the flawed one and it is not just the other person’s fault. In a lot of music, especially by females, the message is ‘you’re the bad guy and I hate you,’ but I like the reflective and introspective nature of that song.”

HOW SHE HANDLES REJECTION
“I spent 7 months right after I moved to LA single and dating a lot of different people. What I really liked about that was the idea that if you don’t look at it as a reflection of yourself, but instead just look at it as trying to find that best friend, you quickly realize that you don’t need to absorb anyone’s rejection of you or your rejection of them.”

“You can then walk through life and know that you’re not for everyone and everyone is not for you. I have a lot of friends who are single in LA because they absorb everything and they take everything personally. I just want to tell them, ‘You’re not going to like everybody!’ And that’s okay because it’s not a reflection of them.”

For All Those in Doubt, You’re the One

I had a very special date this Monday. I had an alone day. It didn’t happen by chance. Like most dates, I prepped and planned.

Naturally, I spent a portion of the day reading. While breezing through piles of content I had gathered, I came across a quote by June Jordan: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

We are the ones that we have been waiting for. It dawned on me that some time after my first kiss, I, like most people, became intoxicated with the idea of finding someone special. I have to admit that I don’t think that ever really faded entirely.

For most of my adult life, I had been waiting for someone to come in and sweep me off my feet. This intensity over the years fluctuated, of course, but the idea was always there. It’s subconscious. It’s an understanding that we picked up somewhere. It’s not our fault.

In the last four years, I have been pushed and tested in every way possible: professionally, romantically, spiritually—humanly. Against my efforts and fidgeting, I went through this alone. All of it–gulp by gulp, cringe by cringe.

After all that, I realized that there was really one person that I needed to be okay with, to be extremely loving to, and thankful for, to get everything else in line. That person was me.  I am the one I have been waiting to discover, comfort, unleash, and love.  I am the one I have been waiting for.

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to finding that special person that is going to support me in my spiritual and human journey, but I realize now that there are so many things that I cannot ask for. There are so many things that only I provide and most of those things are what make life so special. We’re all in this to exercise our potential. We’re actually just here to be ourselves and it always amazes me how much effort we put into resisting that. 

So, for all those in doubt, it’s you. You have all you need already. You’re the one.

A Single Summer Bucket List

Are you single this summer?

Great! You can join me as I make my way down my Single Summer Bucket List.

Unlike other bucket lists that are focused on adventures or quick-hitting thrills, this list is designed especially for people who have the freedom to take their time and linger in a way that’s really only possible when you’re single. I hope it brings you some joy and peace this summer.

Perform a summer equinox ritual.

On the first day of summer, June 21, schedule some ritual time to start summer on your own terms. Whether it’s making your favorite meal, burning some sage or changing your bedding to something lighter, get yourself ready for the season!

Take yourself to a weekend matinee and bring breakfast in your bag.

There is nothing more luxurious than a movie theater practically to yourself on a weekend morning, with your favorite coffee and pastry tucked away, waiting to be devoured. Bonus if you get there early and catch all of the previews. Matinees are not meant to be rushed.

Take yourself on a long walk outside (for more than an hour).

Walks are underrated, and long walks are particularly underrated. Follow the advice of John Muir and “go in.”

Try Shinrin-Yoko.

Shinrin-yogo, forest bathing, is a Japanese practice of spending time in nature and it touts a lot of benefits. Carve out some time to practice it for yourself.

Go to an outdoor concert by yourself.

Many cities have outdoor concert series in the summer that are free or very affordable. Find something that you’d usually bring a friend or a date to, and take yourself solo. Grab dinner beforehand and bring a blanket. Bonus: there will be no one shouting directly into your ear all night!

Detox from your phone for a weekend.

Spend one weekend off your phone and see how you feel at the end. What was the hardest part? What were the best parts? How can you incorporate more detox time from your phone into daily life?

Read a book one chapter at a time.

With so much content flowing into our brains every single second, it’s hard to make time to sit down and read a full chapter of a book without being interrupted by your phone…but summer is the best time to do this. Instead of reading a few pages here and there, the goal here is to read one full chapter from start to finish. See how good it feels to finish something!

Attempt a challenge.

For some it’s a hike while for others it’s spoken word, whatever it is that pushes you out of your comfort zone, try it. Nothing will make you feel more alive than taking on a challenge. You don’t have to rush into it. Maybe you spend the summer taking small steps toward the bigger goal, but one thing is certain—checking it off will make you feel alive.

Plan a solo vacation.

Whether it’s a day trip you want to take in the fall or a longer trip you plan to take around the holidays, carve out some time and do some research about where you want to go and what you want to do. We often plan things so last minute because we can (thanks to Airbnb and travel apps), but there’s also something special about the anticipation and excitement leading up to a trip, especially when you get to do exactly what you want to do.

Learn how to make a signature dish for one.

Meal prep companies have become so popular lately, but what about taking the time to actually learn how to make something you love so you can make it on the regular? Suggestions for summer: frittata with asparagus, pad thai, or tacos.

What would you add to the list?

Ten People Share Their Thoughts On Casual Sex With An Ex

Sure, it sounds alluring to be in the arms of someone you once shared everything with. There will always be an inherent bond with an ex because of the shared history and familiarity.

But is an ex encounter worth it? Is it possible for casual sex with an ex to remain just that? Here, 10 people share their thoughts on casual sex with an ex. And if you’re struggling to get over an ex, be sure to check out our tried-and-true 60-day Ex Detox included in our How To Mend From Heartbreak program, which is available in Mend Classes. Keep reading for a 50% code at the end of this post!

1. Complete Sense Of Relief

“For me, having sex with my ex was one of the best decisions I made for myself emotionally. It did much more for me than I expected. Obviously, it was an ego boost, lots of fun and let me recharge and regroup. It was almost like a time out because I wasn’t exactly moving backward, but I definitely wasn’t moving forward either. But what I didn’t expect was the complete sense of relief I felt the next day. Our relationship ended so badly and there was so much resentment and hurt feelings, it was very difficult, for me anyway, to view that relationship as anything but a total mistake. But having that one night reminded me of how great he can be and how much fun we did have. It was a nice commemoration to the time that we shared.”

—Olga shares how sleeping with her ex helped clean her slate. (xojane.com)

2. Things Will Go Nowhere

“While a no-strings-attached relationship sounds good in theory, it is a dead-end solution that closes off your options. On one hand, it doesn’t allow you to move on and find a partner with whom there is both sexual chemistry and also emotional compatibility. You deserve both. Why should you have only half the cake? And on the other hand, since you are in a no-strings-attached relationship, it stops you from addressing the emotional difficulties between you in any meaningful way. So things can go nowhere.”

—Sharadha explains how sleeping with an ex leaves one with no room for progression and stifled feelings. (dearsharadha.com)

3. Establish Rules

“If you’re happy that you’re both on the same page, and your break-up was wholesome enough to avoid significant pain, then you need to establish rules. Why? Because otherwise you’re gonna slip right back into that relationship thing all over again, and before you know it, you’ll be using passive-aggressive emoji because they’re late to your aunt’s wedding. And we don’t want that, do we? Remember that book: ‘It’s Called A Break-Up Because It’s Broken.'”

—This beginner’s guide on how to have sex with your ex explains that both parties must agree on a set of expectations. (thedebrief.co.uk)

4. Have A Back-up Plan

“A friend once told me, ‘You should never break up with someone without a back-up plan.’ I took her advice to heart. It just made sense. You wouldn’t leave an apartment without finding a new place to live first, so why would you leave a relationship without a solid plan of where to get your orgasms and feelings going forward? Still, there are times when one unexpectedly finds oneself in a period of sexual vagrancy—maybe you got dumped, or a bad fight ended your relationship abruptly, or your back-up plan just fell through. It happens to the best of us. It’s during this delicate and lonely state that we find ourselves doing what one should never do: sleeping with the ex.”

—Slutever’s Karley Sciortino warns that sleeping with an ex can become a “cock block.” (Vogue.com)

5. Recipe For Disaster

“I went through this phase for quite a while with my ex and it was a recipe for disaster. It’s great in the moment, but it is ultimately the equivalent of an emotional seppuku for at least one of the parties involved.”

—Reddit user on how they felt horrible after sleeping with an ex. (Reddit.com)

6. Keep An Eye On Emotions

“Generally speaking, I wouldn’t advise sleeping with an ex with whom you had a serious relationship. That just opens up old wounds and sparks drama. But, if there’s someone you dated briefly with whom you totally sparked sexually, if not romantically, why wouldn’t you have a little fun together, at least from time to time? Make sure to keep a close eye on your emotions; if you start to catch feelings, stop.”

—Editor-in-chief of ‘The Frisky,’ Amelia McDonell-Parry, advises to watch out for catching feelings again. (Refinery29.com)

7. A Beautiful Realization

“I was calling the shots, as I had sex with a man I used to love to prove to myself that I was over him, and I absolutely was. I knew then there would be no more tears shed at his memory, and I also realized that all the great sex I thought I was having with him, was actually pretty mediocre. It was a beautiful realization.”

—Amanda shares how sleeping with her ex finally provided her with the closure she needed to move on. (ThoughtCatalog.com)

8. Just Sleep With Your Ex

“Normal dates—with the requisite mani-pedis, barbershop shaves, drinks, and movie tickets—can easily add up to more than $200. But just because you’re single and can’t afford big nights out doesn’t mean you need to forgo sex altogether. Just sleep with your ex. Booty-calling an ex, at least one you’re on good terms with, is a low-risk, high-yield investment. You’re familiar with each other’s flaws already, so no need to mask them with pricey beautification or elaborate mating rituals. Just order in Chinese—or better yet, nuke some Ramen, then get busy. Bonus perk: Your ex knows his or her way around your body, and vice versa, which means a guaranteed good time for all.”

—A guide to the joys (and savings) of sleeping with an ex. (NYMag.com)

9. Sexy And Free

“There’s also a certain fun naughtiness in having sex with a former spouse. It’s like the sex you had when you were dating. There’s the flirting, a feeling of seduction, the thrilling idea of having a fling or pseudo-affair. An attitude of, ‘we’re not married, we’re just having great sex’ prevails and you feel both sexy and free.”

—Kristen explains how sex with an ex is becoming the new form of monogamy. (HuffingtonPost.com)

10. It’ll Set You Back

“If you want to hijack and dismantle all the grieving and healing work you’ve done up to this point, by all means, go sleep with your ex. But if you want to continue to move forward into healing with your head held high, refrain. Do not let a few moments of passion undo all the hard work you’ve done. It is not worth it. It will send you reeling and send you back months and months healing-wise.”

—Elisabeth explains how having sex with an ex will only set one back while on their road to healing. (ElisabethKlein.com)

We know how hard it is to break free from an ex, and that’s why we’ve designed an entire program to support you on the path to wholeness. As a loyal blog reader, we are offering 50% off all our Mend Classes for a limited time. Use code BLOG50 at checkout. We cover topics like sex with your ex, letting go, and how to recover from rebounds. Sign up to get started.

Why Did My Ex Reach Out To Me If They Broke Up With Me?

An ex suddenly reaching out after they broke up with you can be very confusing. It creates so much confusion because your ex’s actions are conflicting. They’ve broken up with you yet now they are contacting you? What’s the deal with that?! Especially when you’ve probably worked so hard on moving forward and limiting that contact from your side. But the reason can actually be quite simple. Here is a brief explanation, and if you want to know more, we cover this topic in detail in our How To Mend From Heartbreak program. You can sign up to start mending at Mend Classes. (Keep reading for a 50% off coupon at the end of this post!)

A Part Of Them Misses You
Even though your ex broke up with you, the reaching out is an indication there’s a part of them that misses you – even if they don’t say that in their message or call. What it doesn’t necessarily mean, is that they want to get back together.

They Need To Fulfill A Need
When you do the breaking up with someone, it doesn’t always mean that you’re able to move on any quicker or miss that person any less. The same things can trigger you – a random reminder of the relationship, being alone and feeling uncomfortable with that because it’s unfamiliar, one too many drinks, a movie or a song. Your ex will have felt that connection too, and not having you around will be something they miss. So reaching out (although it probably isn’t the best thing for you and in many ways, can be quite selfish on their part) is a way of fulfilling that need for a bit of contact. What they say when they reach out might be as simple as a ‘hey, how are you?’ or they might have a more practical reason that in your eyes, is actually quite unnecessary. The most likely answer is that they’re looking for an excuse just to have some sort of contact with you.

They’re Wobbling Emotionally
Again, it’s really important to not get your hopes up – especially if you are still not over your ex. The breakup still happened, regardless of who did the breaking up. Something wasn’t quite right. It doesn’t mean your ex is having second thoughts unless they clearly say that to you. It’s really just more of a sign that they’re experiencing an emotional wobble around the whole breakup in a moment of vulnerability.

What To Do
What is also important to remember, is to keep your boundaries intact. You get to decide whether you respond to your ex or not. If you’ve worked hard on creating that detachment, it’s completely your right to maintain that and do what is best for your own healing. No reply gives as much information as a reply so don’t feel obliged. Your ex will understand and will know that contacting you – at least right now, isn’t a good idea.

If you do respond, you just need to think about whether that will help or hinder your own emotional healing too. Opening up that channel of communication can allow old emotional wounds that you’ve worked hard to heal resurface. So you need to be sure what you want the gain out of that interaction, knowing that your ex could still respond in a way that you’re unable to predict.

Don’t be afraid to take some time if you need to. Now is the time to put your heart and self-healing first.

We know how hard it is to break free from an ex, especially when you’re still hearing from them. That’s why we’ve designed an entire program to support you on the path to wholeness. As a loyal blog reader, we are offering 50% off all Mend Classes, including our comprehensive How To Mend From Heartbreak program, for a limited time. Use code BLOG50 at checkout to redeem this sale. We cover topics you’d find helpful like how to recover after an ex reaches out, how to set boundaries after a breakup and why ex contact can be so difficult to cut off. Sign up to get started.

Also, you may want to check out: one Mender’s reason for reaching out to her exour guide to getting over your ex, and why the strength is in letting go.

Six Types of Toxic People to Let Go

Nothing feels better than getting rid of things you don’t need anymore. Those jeans that no longer fit? Hasta la vista, baby. That George Foreman Grill that homes a cluster of black widow babies? Gone!

It can feel even better to clean out the folks who clutter our hearts with mild to rampant dread. They are:

1. Mr./Ms. Need For Speed

This is the person who sees you across a crowded room and it’s Love At First Sight. But, as soon as you’re convinced they’re a good bet and decide to invest in the relationship, they freak, ice you out and run as fast as they can, leaving you dazed and confused.

2. Mr./Ms. Mopes A Lot

This is the person who resists doing anything for you or the relationship. They especially don’t want to get to know your friends, family, or anyone who truly loves you because they actually know they’re not treating you well and realize your true loved ones will sense it.

3. Mr./Ms. One-Way Street

They have needs, but you can’t have any. For instance, they ask for favors: Can you pick up their laundry? Can you do their laundry? Can you type up a report for them at the last minute, even though you need to get to work? But, if you ask them to do something they act like you’re asking them to drywall your entire apartment.

4. Mr. /Ms. You Suck

Once this person knows they’ve got you hooked, they slowly but surely begin a campaign of criticism. It may begin with teasing. Then it escalates to full-blown character assassination, “You’re too needy or neurotic.” “You’re paranoid if you think I’m cheating.” People like this want control. They want you to fill their emotional and sexual needs while making you feel so inadequate that you don’t feel entitled to have any needs at all.

5. Mr./Ms. Continue at Your Own Risk

This is the person who wears their dysfunction on their sleeve. For many, this type is catnip. You might delude yourself into thinking the love of a good person could heal them and turn them into a loving, appreciative person! Danger, danger!

6. Mr./Ms. KGB Agent

Don’t ask this person too much. This person doesn’t want you anywhere near their phone, tablet, or computer. They say if you could just trust them and give them privacy, then eventually they will trust you and give you more access. This is particularly suspicious if you’ve been dating months and even years. If you don’t trust them this could be smoke from an infidelity fire.

Who will you let go of?

Letting go is easier said than done. That’s why we’ve designed Mend Classes to support you on the path to wholeness. We cover topics like exes, letting go, and relationshipsSign up to get started.

Five Tips for Surviving Halloween Solo

Attending Halloween parties can feel daunting if you just went through a breakup and you’re having difficulty just getting from point A to point B. If you find yourself getting stressed about Halloween, here are some strategies to make your evening a little bit less stressful:

1. Leave your expectations at home

There are a lot of hidden expectations and worries that go into parties, like the expectation that everyone is going to wonder why you’re not with your ex. Or the expectation that this is one of your first nights out and it has to be the most fun night EVER. Or the expectation that you might meet someone new. 

Whether your expectations are positive or negative, write them all down before you go out, take a deep breath and tell yourself that you’re leaving them on the paper. Walk into the party with a smile on your face and a genuine curiosity to get to know people there, regardless of whether they are interesting romantically. Avoid sizing everyone up and comparing them to your ex. Oh, my ex would have looked better as Elmo.  The key on Halloween is to underpromise and overdeliver.

2. Don’t go looking for your ex

Any holiday can be stressful when you and your ex have mutual friends. If you know your ex is going to be at a particular bar, club or house party, DO NOT GO THERE. There are plenty of other places to go and things to do on Halloween. This will eliminate the need to make awkward small talk, pretend you didn’t see each other at all or spend the whole night trying to make your ex jealous (which won’t make you feel better for longer than a few seconds).

If you absolutely can’t think of anything to do, stay home with some friends and watch Hocus Pocus or a scary movie. We can guarantee it’ll be less terrifying than seeing your ex dressed up as one half of a couple’s costume.

3. Go easy on the vampire punch

Alcohol is a very effective depressant, which means that it can make you feel worse if you are already feeling sad. The next day can be particularly painful if you’re already feeling low. 

So while the plentiful creepy cocktails and ghoulish drink specials this season are attractive if you’re feeling sad, anxious or bored, drinking one too many drinks may send you over the edge. Commit to cutting yourself off at x drinks (you know what x is – if you’re not sure, ask your best friend), and ask a trustworthy friend to keep you in check if you’re worried.

4. Unplug for the night

If you do end up having too many jello shots, make sure to call someone for a ride home. Don’t use alcohol as an excuse to text your ex because 9 out of 10 times, the results of Halloween drexting aren’t pretty. 

We know it’s easy to check up on your ex’s Snapchat/Instagram/Twitter to see what they’re up to tonight and that can be a total bummer on your Halloween plans, so appoint a friend to hold onto your phone if you know you can’t exercise self-control. You’ll thank your sober self later.

5. Plan your exit strategy

Plan how you’re going to get home before you even step out of the house, whether you’re going to request an Uber or a Lyft or a friend to drive by in their SUV and pick you up middle school style. And then, as soon as you feel like you’re about to turn into a pumpkin, tell your friends, thank the hosts and get on your way. 

Don’t leave your exit strategy in the hands of anyone else but you. Even though your bud may love you, they may love the dracula on the patio a bit more 3 drinks in.

Most important, remember that tonight is not an endurance test to see how long you can hold it together until you fall apart. You are not being graded on how good you look or how well-adjusted you seem. 

So leave out a tea bag and chocolate (or your favorite candy) in your kitchen for when you return, and maybe even turn down your bed. Queue an episode of something you like to watch as soon as you get home. Be kind to yourself. You made it through Halloween solo!

How To Survive A Breakup  When They Break You

First let me be clear, you will survive no matter what.

Everything shall pass.

After a breakup you wish your ex well because you love them, but that too shall pass. First you are in denial. You want, deep inside, everything to go back as it was before. You don’t say it out loud. Maybe with your friends you act like you know it’s over. But there’s always some hope because it’s the first stage: denial. 

Breakup Denial

Then when you open your eyes to find out the love of your life can live (and wants to live) without you, maybe you will realize that you don’t want everything to be like it was before. One day you look back and see it wasn’t so great. Maybe you were happy, but if they left there was something that wasn’t okay. Maybe this person wasn’t ready to commit or maybe you were struggling and you didn’t see it. 

If your ex left you because they met someone else, let’s get to the angry stage already. 

But here is the important thing: stop with the illusion. Accept the fact that this person is going to live without you. And that you need to focus (this is really hard at first) on you. Only you. What can you do? What do you want? That’s a hard one if the breakup wasn’t your decision. It will be hard to focus on you, because you still want to understand the other.

Focus On You

Anger can fill your heart, your words, your mind. You are angry because they left you. They didn’t want to share with you, laugh with you, build a life with you…and that’s okay. You are in the next stage. If you have some issues try to work them out. Go to therapy, meditate, find yourself. Everyone has issues – this doesn’t justify someone leaving you, but you have to take this opportunity to work things out with yourself. 

You need to take the anger and make it work for you. Destroy letters, or punch your bed. Burn a pile of photos of the two of you together (in a safe manner, please), but then you need to transform the anger into something else. Run, paint, write, take photos…be creative and explore this anger for your own sake. This feeling is for you to grow up and build a better version of yourself.

This is about you. Only you. When you are in a couple, everything, EVERYTHING, is about two. You plan, you share, you live with that person and many times, we forget about ourselves. This precise moment in your life is only about you. Learn about what you like, what you want to learn, how you want to live and how you’d like to experiment. Find out who you are alone. Learn to enjoy the time with yourself, with no friends, no date, no family. You can be whole, you can feel loved, alone.

After anger, there it comes. Sadness. To tell you the truth I was sad before I was mad, but that’s just me. Well, you will cry, a lot. You will feel a hole in your chest: that’s loss. When you lose someone there’s this hole in your heart. It’s ok. Watch movies that make you cry, cry at a sunset, cry on the subway (been there), cry alone and with a friend. Hug a lot, hugging makes you happier. Don’t think about your ex so you can feel pain. Burst into tears when it’s inevitable, but don’t enjoy the suffering. Don’t feed the thoughts about the happy times. Go with the flow. 

You Will Cry A Lot

And also, I didn’t mention this before: LET GO. You can’t conquer the breakup until you let go. You have to stop talking, stop all communication. You can call it whatever you want. “We had to see each other because of the house, and the stuff…” You can fool everyone but yourself. If you don’t stop the communication, the process can be longer. It could take many months or years of your life. So it’s better to start right away.

After anger, after you use all the bad words you know in every language to describe your “stupid, f**king” ex, you will feel free. Because you’ve cried, you’ve cursed. Now a sense of liberation starts to grow deep inside and you find out that in a day you didn’t think about it for 10 hours. 

After Anger In A Breakup

The first days you will think about it all the time. Then everyday. Then some days. And it will vanish, and then you will have the memories of that relationship far away in the past. And the nights with anxiety, the nights crying alone in a big bed, will be over. The moments when you see a couple and curse the universe will be over. 

And maybe, when you see this cool person looking at you, maybe you will look at him/her, and start talking and find out: there are plenty of interesting people around. You just have to be ready.

Also, you may want to check out: what to remind yourself of when you’re missing your ex, how to survive the heartbreak of a broken engagement, and how to find the silver lining amidst pain.

Science Of Heartbreak

When Your World Revolves Around Your Depressed Partner

We had been together for three and a half years. When we first met, he was going through a difficult time. He had depression, he was grieving one of his parents, he was struggling to get a job, and had major trust and communication issues from both his childhood and previous ex-girlfriends. I was his friend first, and very soon after became his one support. It was inevitable that we fell in love.

For two years, I helped him through his depression, I helped him open up and learn to trust and communicate again. Even though I was managing my own stresses and workload, I devoted my day and all my free time to him. I taught him how to eat more nutritious food, would encourage him to go for daily walks with me. He flourished, and in his happiness, I mistook my happiness and the success of our relationship. 

After two years, he was a changed man. Everyone saw it; his friends, family, everyone who knew it commended me for the positive change I had brought to his life. Meanwhile, I was buckling under the stress and responsibility of part-time studies, earning a living, keeping his mental health afloat, cooking him two meals a day, and actually also carrying the majority of the financial burden.

We began to fight. Consciously or unconsciously I started resenting him for having to carry the weight of our entire relationship by myself. I was hurt and lashed out when he wasn’t able to think of me, make sacrifices for me, put me first, and essentially love me the way I loved him. He started to draw away from me, hating that my anger would erupt at the drop of a hat. Eventually, he’d had enough, and he left.

In the beginning I couldn’t understand it. I had done everything right. My whole world had revolved around him. How was I still not good enough? Why did he not want me anymore? I went from anger at him for not choosing me, to anger at myself for not getting it right. It was all my fault. I shouldn’t have snapped at him, I should’ve, I would’ve, I could’ve… none of it helped.

It took me a long time to build a life in which I was the centre of my universe again. It took even longer to admit that letting him become the centre of mine contributed to the end of our relationship. It takes two to make a relationship work, but I can’t help thinking, if I had known better, if our relationship could have been more equal, then maybe things wouldn’t have ended the way they did.

Although the pain of this heartbreak felt like it would break me in the beginning, I am grateful for the lesson I took away from it; it was one I definitely needed to learn. I’ve learned to love myself, and know that I should never lose myself, my needs, or my life, even for the one I love. Relationships need balance. As much as I thought I could, you can’t love someone enough for the both of you. And you should never, ever beg someone to love you the way you love them. This is a lesson I hope to take with me, and still believe that I will fall in love again. This time, I will find someone who will love me the way I deserve to be loved.

Three Ways My Breakup Brought Me Closer To My True Self

My experience with monogamous partnership is that sometimes we can lose our sense of ourselves in the relationship. Often, we begin to compromise who we are, what we desire, and our goals for our life when we take someone else’s desires, dreams, and goals into consideration. While my breakup with my first long-term boyfriend of four years was a heart-breaking experience, I now look back and see that it was a necessary step in discovering who I was without his influence in my life.

Here are three ways my breakup brought me closer to myself:

1. I was able to tap into my feminine strength and ability to stand up for myself.

Sometimes when we’re in a partnership (especially with a masculine person), we can tend to defer to them to make decisions, stand up for us, and overall be our ‘protector’. Once I found myself without that person to lean on as an energetic crutch, I was able to rise up into my own power and strength as a strong female.

2. I learned how to emotionally regulate myself.

Since there was no one else to be there for me in intimate moments of crisis, I learned what I needed to manage my emotions. I turned to breathwork and sat in silence. I took myself on nature walks and began to paint more often. In those moments when at one time I felt bored, lonely, or unwell because I didn’t have someone by me, I was able to fill myself back up and tend to my heart.

3. I had time and space to learn what my body loved and didn’t love in sex.

When in a partnership it’s easy to fall into sexual patterns where we are more concerned with our partner’s pleasure than our own. Having time and space to explore my own body without someone else to think of made my understanding of what turned me on, what type of touch my body responds best to, and what type of stimulation my body loved the most so much more easier.

Finding ourselves single can become an amazing opportunity to embrace our ability to tend to ourselves in ways we didn’t know how before. Our feminine strength has room to grow when we’re not influenced by another person, and this power then radiates to the rest of our lives. For me, my breakup was a blessing in disguise as I now know who I am on a much deeper level than ever before.

Six Women On What It’s Like Being Single During Coronavirus

What does it feel like to be single during coronavirus? How do you stay sane? What happens to dating?

6 women share glimpses of solo lockdown life:

“I had a few late night phone calls. These truly filled me with a giddiness I hadn’t felt since high school when Jason P. from history class and I would talk ~after hours~. The calls lasted anywhere from 90 minutes to four hours, generally with at least an entire bottle of wine consumed in the duration. These phone dates were super fun and it made me wish dating apps were just modern versions of 1-800 numbers (let’s call them….1-900 numbers). I think talking on the phone is a dying art and when it’s done well, is extremely hot. Does that make me sound one million years old?”

-Alison Roman, of NYT fame, recounts her experiences with dating during lockdown

“When you’re a single black woman and you’re always handling things, people think, ‘Oh she’s got it. She’s good.” So now that I’m at home, all of my friends that have their families, their husbands, their boyfriends – they’re immersed in that. And I understand, but I’ve always shown up for the weddings, the baby showers, the christenings. It’s five or six of them and one of me. Who’s checking for me?”

-Felicia on the mixed feelings she has about being alone during lockdown in Jersey

“I feel like in all of the news they just keep saying it’s not that bad…just stay on the couch with your family and play board games and get to know your spouse. What about those of us that are finding ourselves now stuck inside, with no social life, no social interaction, no dating options?”

-Monica shares how she’s coping with quarantine on her own

“You are alone for the duration of this, and that duration is uncertain. And that doesn’t take away from being very comfortable being a single woman. It’s just adding on new feelings that I was not experiencing before the pandemic.”

-Shani shares her thoughts on self isolation with NPR

“This weekend, I was supposed to get married. I don’t know which is the harder pill to swallow: the fact that I called off my wedding long before COVID-19 became our reality, or the notion that if I hadn’t, I would have been thrown headfirst into the logistical and emotional nightmare of postponing a wedding to an unknown date in the future.”

-Kelly on why starting over feels impossible to her during lockdown

If you’re struggling with flying solo, know that you’re not alone. You might want to check out these things to do if you’re single during lockdown and our podcast episode on the same subject.

P.S. If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, our app Mend guides you through heartbreak day by day. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.”

Free Events To Support Your Mental Health At Home

There is so much uncertainty as to what the world will look like in the coming weeks and months as lockdown rules continue to evolve and shift.

Will more people get sick, as things begin to re-open in some places? How will daily life look? What happens to all the businesses that have been impacted? What happens to school? How long will this go on?

These levels of uncertainty, coupled with anxiety and stress, can take a major toll on our mental health. Many people are struggling with the effects of isolation, feeling more lonely and depressed.

So in honor of Mental Health Awareness Day, we want to share a few online events that can help support your mental health. We know there are a lot of free resources being shared right now, so we’re focusing on three organizations and communities we trust: The Center for Mindful Self Compassion, One Love Foundation and Plum Village.

The Center for Mindful Self Compassion

Self-compassion is a powerful practice to help you through a difficult time, and its effects have been well-researched by Dr. Kristen Neff and her colleagues at CMSC.

To support people, the CMSC will continue sharing free meditation sessions daily in English, Spanish, and Cantonese. They also offer specific sessions for LGBTQI2S+ and BIPOC throughout the week. You can sign up here.

One Love Foundation

One Love is a non-profit that helps people learn how to love better, and right now they’ve adapted their programs on healthy relationships vs. unhealthy relationships to this time of social distancing.

As part of their Stay At Home program, they are offering free virtual classes on Mondays and Thursdays. You can learn more and sign up here.

Plum Village

Plum Village, founded by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, has brought many of their worldwide programs to livestreaming, including dharma talks, workshops and meditation sessions in English and French.

Why Are You Afraid Of Losing Him When He’s Not Afraid Of Losing You?

There was an instant connection. You laughed with so many, but with this one, it was different. Talking 5 minutes with him made you feel more alive than anything – and no label of what you officially were or weren’t could ever change that.

And he felt it, too. The way he looked at you, how tenderly he listened, the way he just got you.

But not too long into your magic, things started to turn. He started appreciating you less and less in a million different ways. He stopped appreciating your love, your connection, and all the ways you loved him. You felt it – you felt him slowly getting swayed as more people tried to get his attention. You felt him pushing you away. You felt him not really being afraid of losing you – because he knew that eventually, you would always take him back.

You never, ever have to feel like that.

Be with someone who is afraid of losing you – because without you, nothing is quite as beautiful. Be with someone who appreciates all of you. Be with someone who would never, ever risk losing what you have because they know that it comes once in a lifetime. Be with someone who recognizes extraordinary love, who sees you, all of you, someone who chooses you every single day.

Be with someone who you don’t just have intense eye contact with, because it’s not about how he looks at you, it’s not about how he touches you, it’s about how he shows you he cares, it’s about the decisions he makes every day. Like when you’re not there, when he feels on top of the world, when he can get anyone he wants but still chooses you. You deserve someone who knows what they have and would never feel the need to explore any ‘options’ because in their heart they know they don’t really have another option.

Someone who has you in their heart so much that they know that none of those “options” will ever truly satisfy him, make him feel inspired, alive or understood.

I know he made you feel something no else made you feel before. And he probably felt it, too. But I also know that someone who isn’t putting in the effort that you need from them, isn’t afraid of losing you. Someone who loves you hard and then pushes you away when you’re not convenient anymore, is not afraid to lose you. Someone who tells you beautiful, heartfelt things and promises but somehow always ends up breaking your heart, is not afraid of losing you.

So why are you afraid of losing him?

Be with someone who deserves all of you. Be with someone who would never risk losing you. Be with someone who executes his love – with actions, effort, patience – someone who appreciates you in a million little different ways. Someone who you frustrate the hell out of and then they stop to gaze at you because they think, this is the problem I want to have.

You had something special, and this is why you are so afraid to lose him. I know. But a real connection is never lost, and you should never, ever hold on to someone who only wants to be there when it’s good for him. You never, ever have to convince or inspire anyone to choose you, and you can’t lose a person who you never really had.

Wait for the guy who will get it. Wait for the guy who will do everything that it takes to be with you. Wait for the guy who thinks about you, listens to you, who takes his time to do things right. There will be that guy, a more extraordinary guy, and when you meet him, you will understand why it didn’t work out with the last one.

And above all, don’t ever be afraid to lose anyone who is not afraid to lose you.

Also, you may be interested in checking out: how to know when you’ve waited long enough for someone to commit, how to get over an ex and one of our most popular Love Is Like A Plant podcast episodes: what to do when someone won’t commit.

How To Manage A Breakup When You Live Together

How do you heal when you’re still sharing a living space with your ex? How are you supposed to move forward? How do you maintain privacy? How do you avoid fights?  

Besides the breakups happening during lockdown, there are a lot of people around the world who are living with an ex right now because they felt there was no other option.

Many couples who planned to breakup or divorce before coronavirus had to table their plans for moving out because there simply wasn’t enough time to coordinate the logistics before lockdown started. Some couples are now dealing with changing financial situations (maybe one partner lost a job) which may prevent them from moving out and splitting up their household, even after the lockdown ends. 

Meanwhile, other couples decided that it was safer to continue living together, so they’re sleeping separately or living in different rooms or parts of the house. Other couples may have hunkered down together because they didn’t have anyone else they could turn to, and this is especially true if one person got sick and needed care. Everyone has their own reasons, but the reality is that there are many “couples” now living together (or living closeby and maintaining a close relationship) when that wasn’t really the plan.

This isn’t just unique to coronavirus though. Many couples have to continue living together after they decide to break up or get divorced, whether it’s because of finances, kids, timing, pets, work or simply logistics.

So how can you manage a breakup when you’re living together (or staying in relatively close contact)?

1. Figure out what feels good to you

What can you do to increase your comfort and feelings of ease at home? Maybe it’s that you don’t want to eat breakfast in the kitchen at the same exact time, so that you have some alone time in the morning to meditate and journal without your ex blending their smoothie. Maybe you could wakeup a tad bit earlier so that you can have this alone time before your ex wakes up. Think about your ideal day and figure out how to get close to that, given the current situation.

Then think about boundaries you may need to set with your ex. Are there any boundaries that would make you feel better, or help you be productive (when you need to be)? Maybe it’s that you need to table any conversations about finances until Saturday afternoons so that you can stay focused during your work from home time during the week. Maybe it’s that you don’t continue to rehash your breakup with them for a few weeks. Just because you’re together all the time doesn’t mean you need to keep talking about things and figuring them out. Give yourself a break.

2. Have a discussion with your ex and practice compassion

Once you’ve figured out what will feel good to you (including what boundaries you might like to set) find a time that works for both of you to have a discussion around these two things. Acknowledge that this is a difficult situation, and that you want to work together to make the best out of it. Share what you’re thinking about doing so that they consider what will feel good for themselves. Ask them if there are any boundaries they’d like to set so that they feel more comfortable. Share what yours are.

If there are any boundaries that conflict, which there probably will be, take the time to figure out what compromise might work for both of you. If you can’t reach a compromise, take turns having your way so it feels more equitable. If emptying the dishwasher is a major point of stress, setup a rotating schedule so that you don’t have to think about who’s going to do it anymore.

3. Reach out for support beyond your ex

Just because your ex is the one who’s there doesn’t mean they are the best support system for you. Remember to reach outside of your immediate lockdown bubble and schedule Facetimes or video calls with your friends and family members. You may also want to consider speaking with a therapist remotely on a regular basis so that you can touch base with them and share how you’re feeling living with your ex. They can also help you problem solve if you’re butting heads. Dealing with a breakup while living together is difficult, and finding someone who can listen to you and provide a sounding board will be helpful.

4. Make sure you’re carving out some space for yourself

If you have any corner of your apartment or home together that you can make just yours, do it. Whether it’s your bathroom, a guest room or your garage, finding some place that you can make yours will be helpful. Keep it clean and organized, and put reminders of things you love there. You can even try to meditate there on a daily basis so that it becomes associated with this ritual. It’s really helpful if this space allows you to physically separate from your ex, even if it’s just for an hour or two, but of course that’s not always possible depending on your living situation.

5. Don’t give up on making plans

It may seem like things are incredibly uncertain right now, but there will be a time when you will no longer be living with your ex. You may not be able to go look at apartments right now, but you can start to do research on neighborhoods and streets you like. You can also look at your finances and figure out your moving budget and what you will need in order to make the move happen. You can monitor real estate sites to see what listings are available and get a rough sense of what your budget will get you. You can also start to go through your things, especially if you have shared items, and get organized so that packing is easier once lockdown ends. Take this extra time to get really clear on what you like about your current living situation, and what you would change. Make wishlists.

The goal is to figure out how you can get yourself through this time and be respectful of the person you’re living with, even if it’s your ex. You may not be a couple anymore, but you are certainly human and can be empathetic to the fact that this is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone. If you’re stuck together, you may as well try to make the best of it.

6. Be gentle with yourself

Living together adds an extra element of difficulty to a breakup or divorce that you can’t control or immediately change. Try to be patient with yourself if you’re struggling with it. It’s not ideal to be living with someone who broke your heart, or someone who cheated on you, or someone you’d rather just avoid altogether. Know that you are not alone – right now there are people all over the world in lockdown with exes – and know that you will come out of this with many lessons about yourself. Try not to be hard on yourself if you’re struggling, and also be gentle with any timelines you may have set for yourself. Once you’re no longer living together, you’ll start to feel the benefits of no longer living together. In the meantime, you’re doing the best you can.

We know that you may feel trapped, but know that you can create mental space using the strategies above. You have the power to make the best of your circumstances. We’re rooting for you and sending you our best wishes for this difficult time.

Four Instagram Accounts To Help You Live More Sustainably

In honor of Earth Day, we’re encouraging you to take a closer look at the impact your life has on the planet through an app you use everyday – Instagram. To get you inspired and motivated to live more sustainably, here are a few Instagram accounts to get you started.

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@readtealeaves

Erin shows us how a slower, simpler life is possible, and it’s beautiful. Her account gives us a glimpse into her Brooklyn life, sharing a small apartment with a growing family. We love her project ideas and small tweaks for living a more sustainable life.

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@kisstheground

If you don’t think about soil that much, this account will change your mind. Follow Kiss The Ground’s account to learn more about regenerative farming, a more sustainable way to solve the climate crisis and feed the planet. And be sure to check out their fascinating documentary (narrated by Woody Harrelson), now streaming on Netflix.

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@wildminimalist

Run by a husband and wife team, Wild Minimalist is the account of a zero waste shop in California. They share wonderful advice and inspiration for minimizing your impact through ditching plastic and taking on more of a zero waste lifestyle.

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@zerowastehome

Can you imagine a life without trash? Bea Arthur lives it. She’s one of the mothers of the zero waste movement, and her account will inspire you to make small changes that have a huge positive impact on our environment.

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@haleboyd

We first came across Haley as the founder of Marais, a popular shoe brand that was based in Los Angeles. Since then, she’s switched gears and is focused on sustainability. Her feed is as informative as it is beautiful – no surprise from a designer!

Love Is Like A Plant Episode: Being Single & Breakups During Coronavirus

In this new episode of Love Is Like A Plant, Elle and Sarah May talk about how to stay sane if you’re on lockdown by yourself and how to mend if you’re going through a breakup during this pandemic. They also talk about how to deal with urges to reach out to your ex, and how to handle ex thoughts when you’re confined with yourself! We know this is a difficult time, so we’re sending our love to all our listeners and wishing you good health. 

Also, a special announcement: we are recording a LIVE episode with listeners and you’re invited! To join, email hello@letsmend.com.

Tune Into These Seven Free Events To Calm Coronavirus Nerves

Hope you are all hanging in there. Whether it’s been a few weeks, or a few months, you’re probably starting to feel the build up of stress and anxiety from staying at home, even if you feel like you’ve turned into a blob. The mental stress of this pandemic alone is enough to wear out your nervous system, let alone the fact that you’re probably also trying to do some combination of: work, study, cook for yourself, clean, shower, maintain relationships, stay informed and possibly live with other people without fighting.

It’s a lot! We’re not just “staying home.” We’re actually doing a lot. And that’s why the perfect antidote to “doing” is “being.” When we focus more on being, we can tune in to the present moment, relax our nervous system and activate different parts of the brain that will help us regulate mood and feel calmer.

We’re going to get through this moment in time, but it does take extra mental health support. We’ve curated some of our favorite online resources to help you through this week.

Some of these are events taking place live online or on Instagram, and others are evergreen resources available whenever you need them:

Join a virtual meditation sitting group or a virtual retreat at Spirit Rock. On Instagram: @spirit_rock

Find freedom wherever you are with Jack Kornfield. On Instagram: @jack_kornfield

Open your heart with Tara Brach. On Instagram: @tarabrach

Tune into a sound bath with meditation teacher and sound therapist Sara Auster. On Instagram: @saraauster

8 mindfulness practices specifically tailored to help with emotions around COVID-19. On Instagram: @mindfulness.exercises

Tap into self compassion with Sara Shah of Mother Yin. On Instagram: @motheryin_

Try a body scan to help you sleep (y en español!) On Instagram: @uclahealth

Join a self compassion seminar with leading self compassion researcher & expert Dr. Kristen Neff

Cope with anxiety on Insight Timer. On Instagram @insighttimer

There’s also wonderful power in a group of people coming together to meditate or practice mindfulness, especially during a time of crisis. Many meditation teachers and retreat centers are hosting virtual events via Zoom or Instagram and these are great ways to deepen your practice and build on what you’re doing on your own.

During confinement, that feeling of community is so special and important to cultivate for yourself in some form. Consider following the teachers, apps and centers shared above on Instagram so that you can tune into their live events and stay updated on their offerings. Many are offering special workshops and sessions specifically around coronavirus, and they announce on Instagram directly.

P.S. 4 things to do if you’re single during the coronavirus pandemic & how to stay sane during this pandemic.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can join Mend. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

When Coronavirus Leads To A Breakup

Relationships are under a lot of pressure at the moment as we all individually deal with the uncertainty, fear and stress of the coronavirus pandemic. In some cases, relationships will strengthen during this time, even if there are difficult moments. It’s only normal for there to be ups and downs in any relationship. In other cases, though, the added stress may lead to a breakup. 

There are a lot of different scenarios playing out at the moment:

Maybe you and your partner deal with crisis differently, and you can’t bridge the divide.

Maybe time apart has allowed for reflection, and one partner’s feelings have changed about being in a relationship.

Maybe being confined together has made one partner realize they no longer want to be together.

Maybe you, or the other person, would rather be on your own or with family during this time.

Maybe a major life change has happened (loss of a loved one, loss of a job) and one partner needs space.

Maybe the relationship was really new, and the pandemic killed any momentum that was building.

The list could go on and on, but the point is that there are so many reasons relationships are ending right now. The important thing to remember is that the pandemic is just a catalyst, speeding up what was already happening. The stress of a pandemic highlights and heightens emotions or thoughts that were already there, even if they were faint.

The real reason relationships will end during this time is because something wasn’t working in the relationship, and one or both partners weren’t willing to make it work. Even if things were working pre-coronavirus, the key fact to remember is that they didn’t continue to work once things got difficult

While that’s painful to hear, it may also save you some time and energy that you would have otherwise spent blaming a virus. This pandemic is a circumstance we are all dealing with, albeit an unprecedented and heartbreaking one, and it’s temporary.

If you’re having difficulty processing your breakup right now, here are some questions to help you reflect on your relationship:

Were there signs before the pandemic that your relationship was on unsteady ground? Did you feel safe and loved?

Did you two react to the pandemic differently? How were you able to communicate?

In general, was your relationship healthy and solid before the pandemic?

Were your interactions mostly stable and positive?

Did you feel welcome and integrated in your partner’s life? If you’d been together a while, had you met their friends and/or family?

Were there any red flags before the coronavirus pandemic hit?

Were you fighting a lot? Were you confused or anxious often?

Acknowledging and accepting the relationship for what it really was, not what you wish it had been, is an important part of the mending process. A pandemic can certainly add a layer of unhelpful stress, but a relationship can weather a pandemic. Relationships will certainly be tested, but if both partners are willing to weather the storm together, they will.

At the end of the day, if the relationship didn’t last, there was a reason it didn’t last, and there’s also a lesson in it. While it’s incredibly painful to be going through a breakup or divorce during a pandemic, you can find some solace in knowing that you have some closure. Now you can focus on healing, taking care of yourself and preparing for the time when you can go out again, see your loved ones, rebuild your life (and potentially even welcome a new person in your life.)

It may be hard to imagine all of this now while you’re stuck at home in your pajamas counting the days of confinement, but know that this heartbreak is just one step on a much longer journey. Know that you are strong enough to weather any storm, and that the right partner will be too.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending now. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

Relationship Tips When You’re In Coronavirus Lockdown Together

Whether your relationship was fairly new or you were already living together already, spending 24 hours a day with the same human for endless weeks can take a toll on your relationship, and on your own mental health. Esther Perel put it best when she described the challenges that come with expecting everything from your partner:

“As almost all of our communal institutions give way to a heightened sense of individualism, we look more frequently to our partner to provide the emotional and physical resources that a village or community used to provide.

Is it any wonder that, tied up in relying on a partner for compassion, reassurance, sexual excitement, financial partnership, etc. that we end up looking to them for identity or, even worse, for self-worth?”

So even if you were mindful of this as you began to date, or as you entered a long-term relationship, being in confinement has a way of upsetting this balance. If you’re staying at home together, you’ve become the other person’s world. It’s only natural that this happens, but there are ways in which you can reinforce your relationship and seek support outside of our partner virtually.

Modify your routines

Think about this last week and try to estimate how much time you’ve spent taking care of yourself. How does that compare to how much time you spent taking care of yourself before confinement? If your usual weekly self care routine involved a weekend hike with friends, a trip to the library and a few beach runs, try to make sure that you’re still carving out time for the stay at home equivalent.

Instead of your weekend hike with friends, schedule a Zoom call where you all stretch together in your living room. Instead of the weekly trip to the library, login to your online account and see what digital books and subscriptions are available. Instead of beach runs, schedule in some time to join a high intensity dance class on Instagram. The way you take care of yourself during this confinement period is important – don’t abandon all of your routines that were working for you pre-coronavirus. Just modify them!

Diversify your support system

Though you may not feel like there’s much to talk about, it’s important to make an effort to talk to your friends and family on a regular basis. As the days and weeks begin to turn into one blur, time can get away from you. It’s helpful if you can schedule a standing call with your family, and standing calls with a group of friends. Maybe there’s also one or two individual friends who you’d like to have a standing call with one-on-one.

Try to make these calls video so that you can see their facial expressions and pick up on body language. You can also do things together virtually: fold the laundry, cook dinner together, play a game or co-work out. Having these connections outside of your relationship will relieve some of the pressure for your relationship to meet all of your needs.

Have compassion for your partner

This is a difficult period, and everyone handles difficulty in their own way. Be mindful of how you may approach things from a different perspective, and how you may react and deal with stress in a way that’s different from your partner. If you’re struggling with feeling irritable and you don’t really feel that compassionate, try listening to a compassion-focused meditation (Insight Timer is a great free app) at the beginning of your day and whenever you need some extra support. Instead of harping on your differences, use this as an opportunity to learn about your partner. Understanding that you are two different people, and showing compassion for your partner, goes a long way.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending today. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

Going Through A Breakup Or Divorce During Coronavirus

Going through a breakup or divorce can feel like the world is ending, so it goes without saying that being heartbroken during coronavirus truly feels apocalyptic. After a relationship ends, everything in your life changes. You’re no longer with the person you spent all your time with, your routines change and you may have also dealt with major logistical changes (a move, figuring out how to coparent, etc). And now the whole world has shifted in ways that are extremely unsettling. Over 1 billion people are staying home right now to try to slow the spread of coronavirus. Every day the situation changes, and we’re all glued to the news.

One feeling that you may be wrestling with, during all of this, is whether you’re even allowed to be heartbroken right now. When thousands of people are dying, or getting sick, and entire countries are in lock-down, you may feel like you don’t have a right to feel sad about your breakup. When the economy is suffering and people are losing their jobs, you might feel like your problems are insignificant. But that’s where you’re doing yourself a disservice.

The thing about suffering is that it’s not a competition. Empathy and compassion are not available in finite quantities. There’s no reason to feel that you can’t suffer because someone else is suffering. Just because there is a pandemic doesn’t mean you need to hide your feelings. It’s okay to still feel sad. It’s okay to feel lonely. It’s okay to struggle.

A global pandemic may provide a brief distraction from heartbreak as you navigate the impact on your daily life, but the pain in your heart doesn’t disappear. You may feel especially alone right now as everyone is focused on coronavirus, but it’s okay to reach out to your close friends and family and let them know you’re struggling and need extra support. The people who love you the most will understand you can’t just press pause on heartbreak.

Remind yourself that most people go through a breakup or divorce when the world is stable, relatively speaking, compared to how the world is operating right now. If they’re feeling lonely, they can usually go meet up with their friends at a restaurant or head to a yoga class. You, on the other hand, are going through a breakup during a very different time. In many places, most businesses are closed and social distancing is the norm right now. On top of it all, it’s unclear how long this period will last. Given all of this, extend compassion to yourself. You’re dealing with circumstances that most people never have to deal with when they’re going through heartbreak. Recognize that you are doing the best you can given the circumstances.

Once you’ve acknowledged that it’s okay to feel heartbroken, start to figure out what your plan will be for taking care of yourself at home. Since you likely aren’t able to meet up with friends or do a lot of the things that you would do to keep yourself healthy and happy, you need to think about what you will do instead.

If you’re not sure how to start, imagine you’re your best friend going through this same situation. What would you want your best friend to do? How would you hope she cared for herself during this time? Reflect on these questions, maybe write them in your journal, and then do those things. Schedule events for yourself in your calendar. Extend the same compassion to yourself that you would extend your very best friend. You deserve this.

As you figure out your plan of action, consider incorporating these elements into your daily routine:

Daily online yoga and meditation

Watch a streaming event for free (maybe have a friend on video conference co-watch with you)

Regular video calls with friends and family members

-Create a group chat with your closest friends

-If you can still exercise outside, aim to take a walk once a day around the block for some fresh air

-Delete dating apps for a few weeks to give yourself a break

-Spend 10-15 minutes each day journaling on how you’re feeling that day

Heartbreak is never easy, and a pandemic can amplify the stress, anxiety and loneliness that may already be there. If this feels like rock bottom to you, it’s okay. Know that things will get better, day by day. Imagine that you are a butterfly inside of a cocoon, slowly transforming, and that you will break out when you’re ready. Take this time at home to reflect, mourn, feel sad and get back to the basics. You’ll emerge from this breakup, and pandemic, more resilient than ever before.

P.S. How to handle a breakup during coronavirus

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending today. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

Should I Check On My Ex During Coronavirus?

In times of crisis, we often revert to things that used to give us comfort – eating our favorite snacks, watching favorite movies, and yes…even texting people who broke our hearts.

Coronavirus gives a great excuse to reach out to someone who you haven’t talked to in a while, whether it’s a friend or an ex. The difference is, when you reach out to an ex, it can have far-reaching consequences on your mental health during a time when you’re most likely already feeling stressed and anxious.

Though it may feel good initially to get in contact, the pain of realizing that you’re still not together, or that they have no intention of rekindling, can be even worse.

So before you reach out to your ex and check on them, here are some things to remind yourself:

Reaching out to an ex has emotional consequences

An innocent “Hey, hope you’re doing okay and staying healthy” text may seem like a good idea in the moment, but consider what will happen if you don’t hear back, or if you get a short response, or if the conversation fizzles out after a few days of intense back-and-forth. How did you feel the last time you spoke to your ex? Did it have an impact on you? How long did those effects last?

Remember that this is not a normal time

Keep in mind that everyone is spending more time than usual on their phones right now, so they may be quick to respond, but it may not mean as much to them as it does to you. People are bored and have a lot of time on their hands right now, so if you do reach out, try not to read too much into any response. A text back doesn’t mean you’re getting back together. It most likely means they are being polite and don’t want to leave you hanging during a difficult time.

Let go of expectations

If you decide to reach out, it’s important that you don’t have expectations going into it about what your text or call might turn into. Don’t use this pandemic as an opportunity to have another clarifying conversation around your breakup or rekindle things. Remember that your ex is still the same person they were before the pandemic started, and even though it may feel good to talk to your ex, it doesn’t change the circumstances of your breakup.

Protect yourself

If your ex reaches out, or you decide to reach out to your ex, take steps to make sure you don’t have a major emotional setback. Check in with friends afterwards, and make sure that you have a support system to fall back on if you’re feeling confused or sad after speaking with your ex. Above all, remember that you need to put yourself first. Your ex needs to rely on a support system that doesn’t include you, and vice versa, as difficult as that may seem.

A pandemic can stir up emotions about exes, but ultimately if your relationship was working, you would be together and weathering the pandemic as a couple. You wouldn’t be broken up. That’s the essential thing to remember if you’re struggling with feelings for your ex, as harsh as that may feel. Instead of fixating on your ex, think about all the people in your life who have always been there for you – friends, family, pets, coworkers. Make an attempt to connect with one of these people every day to combat feelings of loneliness, and you can even enlist your friends to help you avoid reaching out to an ex if you’re feeling a weak moment.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending today. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

Four Things To Do If You’re Single During The Coronavirus Pandemic

First of all, we want to start by reminding you that if you’re feeling really lonely right now, you are not alone. People all over the world are experiencing feelings of loneliness as they social distance and stay home. Even families who are in quarantine together are feeling lonely; missing their friends, coworkers and communities outside of their immediate family members. Maybe you’re missing the way life was, or maybe you’re lamenting the fact that you’re single during a time like this. We know it’s a difficult moment, and being single can make this feel even more punishing.

Whether you’re staying at home voluntarily or under strict quarantine, remember that you will be able to leave your house, see your friends and go about your daily routine at some point in the future. The difficult part is that we don’t know exactly when. Things may be different for a while, but they won’t be like this forever.

In the meantime, we have to find ways to manage our loneliness and focus on our mental health. Loneliness can be more dangerous to our health than obesity or smoking, and it can also have an impact on our immune system. Besides that, it just doesn’t feel good to sit with feelings of loneliness all day.

Here are some ways to help cope when you’re feeling lonely:

Reach Out To Your Single People

Reach out to friends or family who are also single so that you can talk to someone who understands how you’re feeling. If a lot of your friends are married and/or have kids, they are probably consumed right now trying to adjust to having the entire family at home. Many parents are overwhelmed right now with schools being closed. But your single and childless friends and family members are in the same boat as you, so lean on them. Dr. Guy Winch suggests that “helping others is one of those things that has just as much benefit, in terms of positive psychological and emotional impact, for the person doing the helping as for the person being helped. Loneliness is something we can actually crowdsource. If we all reached out to at least three people a day who might be feeling lonely, it could make a big difference overall.”

Schedule Recurring Calls

Schedule weekly video calls with a few different people, and spread them out during the week. Connection is so important, especially at a time when so much feels uncertain. So go ahead and be proactive by setting up calls ahead of time so that you have things to look forward to throughout the week. Everyone is talking about Zoom, which is a good work tool, but we recommend Whereby because it has a much more minimal aesthetic we prefer for casual chats with our friends and family. It feels less like a conference call your boss is going to hop on, in other words.

Set Up A Group Chat

Whether you’re sharing memes or photos of what you’re cooking while under quarantine, having a group chat can feel like a lifeline during this time. Whether it’s on Whatsapp or iMessage, create a group chat with a few friends and encourage them to add more friends by making them admins of the group.

Get A Daily Dose of Culture

We’re all spending a lot of time on streaming services right now, which is understandable, but binging Love Is Blind is a bit like eating only junk food. Esther Perel reminds us to also take advantage of cultural events that are moving online during this crisis. For example, the Metropolitan Opera in New York is streaming operas daily for free. The Paris Opera is also streaming its performances online for free. Many cultural centers and museums are doing the same, so check out what your local favorite places are doing during this time.

By the way, NPR has compiled a great list of things that are now free to do online, if opera isn’t your thing.

And remember, loneliness is an important part of being human, even when we’re not in a crisis. It’s something that we all experience, and it’s because we’re social beings. Instead of focusing on what you may feel you are missing during this time, remember what you do have.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending today. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

Esther Perel’s Advice For Couples During Coronavirus

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to really put your relationship in focus. A lot of people around the world right now are reflecting on their relationships, as they’re dealing with changes to daily life and work. Maybe you’re stuck at home together in home quarantine, or maybe you’re separated for several weeks at least. In either case, a global pandemic can put a lot of stress on a couple, especially if you have reacted to it differently. Times like these are the ultimate stress tests for relationships, and they may even lead to more arguments and, later, divorces.

Jennifer Senior, a columnist at The New York Times, recently shared the story of her own marital struggles during the coronavirus pandemic. She described how she and her husband have often coped with major changes differently, whether it was the election of Donald Trump in 2016 or the current spread of coronavirus. In her research to understand why, she reached out to relationship expert Esther Perel for advice.

Esther Perel’s advice centered around the idea that couples deal with uncertainty differently. Speaking to Jennifer, Esther said: “If you polarize and you think that there’s only one way to do things…it’s fake certainty. The whole point is that you’re discovering it along the way.”

She broke down a few stylistic differences couples may have when it comes to dealing with coronavirus:

How you approach information in moments of crisis – you may want to “binge” or know everything and others may have more boundaries in place when it comes to reading the news

How consumed you become by an emergency – one of you may be completely focused on the emergency, while the other “may focus more on maintaining the rhythms of a normal life.”

How you move through the world when disaster strikes – you may be “structured, purposeful, proactive” while your partner may be “passive or fatalistic”

Her advice reaches far beyond romantic relationships and may also help us navigate relationships with friends and family right now. It’s a good reminder that while we may handle things differently, it doesn’t mean that our relationships won’t work. This is a moment of high stress, and some understanding and empathy can go a long way. Instead of letting these differences cause more stress, try to be gentle with yourself and your loved ones as we all navigate uncertainty and do the best we can.

And if you’re separated from your partner or loved ones because of confinement, quarantine or social distancing, be sure to check out Esther Perel’s advice for maintaining social connection while social distancing as well as our suggestions.

You may also be interested in how to avoid a breakup during the coronavirus pandemic, how relationships and breakups will be affected by this pandemic and what will happen to dating during coronavirus.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending today. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

How To Avoid A Breakup During This Coronavirus Pandemic

Whether you’re separated or together as we weather this pandemic, a global health crisis like coronavirus can put real pressure on a relationship. Here are ways to keep your relationship strong during this stressful time.

Be respectful if your partner reacts differently to coronavirus 

Relationship expert Esther Perel suggests that couples have different ways of coping with uncertainty, and trying to empathize with each other will go a long way. In an interview with a New York Times columnist she warns: “If you polarize and you think that there’s only one way to do things…it’s fake certainty. The whole point is that you’re discovering it along the way.” So if you have differing perspectives on the crisis, or you react to news differently, it doesn’t mean your relationship is over. It just means you’re two different people, and you’ll need to find a way to bridge the gap.

Meditate every day.

Meditation is an incredibly powerful tool to help you calm anxiety, reduce stress, deal with difficult emotions, and feel less lonely. All of these benefits of meditation can have a big impact on the health of your relationship as well. If both of you meditate, that’s even better. But if you’re just committed on your end to meditate for 10 minutes a day, the benefits will pour into all aspects of your life, including your love life. If you’re wondering how to get started, you can join a free online mindfulness event this month, connect with a mindfulness community, or download an app like Insight Timer.

Focus on your own mental health.

Instead of putting all the focus on your partner or relationship during this time, remember to focus on your own mental health. What are you doing to take care of yourself while you’re at home? What is your plan for reducing your stress levels each day? How are you dealing with feelings of loneliness or anxiety? If you’re in therapy, see if your therapist will be available for video or phone sessions instead of in-person. If you’re feeling lonely, make sure you take time each day to reach out to friends and family over the phone, even if you can’t physically visit them in person. Your mental health has a big impact on how you handle relationship challenges, so it’s key to prioritize this each day, especially if you’re in confinement or quarantine.

Don’t rely on your partner for everything.

During a time of crisis, it’s easy to cling to someone you care about and rely on them for all your needs, which can cause strain in a relationship. To avoid putting this stress on your relationship, don’t forget to seek out support from your friends and family, even it’s virtually through Facetime or Whatsapp group chats. If you’re at home with your partner and spending all of your time together, make sure you have some blocks of time where you are each doing your own thing. Even if it’s a 20 minute yoga video that you do in another room, time apart will help keep your relationship in balance. And if you’re overwhelmed with fear, don’t forget that there are many therapists who are sharing great advice online if you’re dealing with coronavirus-related anxiety.

P.S. How to handle a breakup during coronavirus.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending today. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

What Happens To Dating During A Pandemic?

With social distancing and business closures becoming the norm around the world, most in-person dating has come to a screeching halt. But maybe it’s not a bad thing? Here are two bright sides of dating (or not) during this coronavirus pandemic:

If You’re Dating…You Can Take Things Slow & Get Creative

If you got connected on an app but haven’t meet IRL yet, social distancing means you’ll have more time to get to know the person before you start dating. Maybe you’ll bond over Instagram memes or Facetime while you cook a meal together. It’s not the same as meeting in person for dinner or a drink, but it certainly presents a new way to get to know someone. It’s almost a little old-fashioned, except enabled by technology.

If you already met for a date or two, but now you’re unable to meet in person any time soon, this is a chance to take things slow and not rely solely on chemical signals to decide if this person is right for you. Sometimes we’re too quick to go down a certain path because of the presence or lack of chemistry, and we don’t always focus on the things that matter: compatibility, values, commitment level, communication style. By dating from afar, you’ll have time to evaluate the other things that contribute to a healthy relationship.

If You’re Not Dating…Try To Enjoy The Pause

With all the concern around coronavirus, there’s no pressure to date right now. So if you’re used to friends or family telling you to “get out there” enjoy the break from hearing this kind of advice. In fact, social distancing is the perfect excuse not to date. Getting together in person is a risk (in some places, it’s simply not allowed), and a lot of people are too preoccupied right now to prioritize dating anyway.

So let go of any guilt you’ve felt about not dating, or any pressure you feel to stick to a timeline, and redirect that time into keeping yourself healthy and taking care of yourself. Just think of all the hours you’ll save from not swiping for a couple of weeks.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending today. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

Separated From Your Partner During Coronavirus?

A lot of people have been talking about “love during the time of coronavirus”, a play on “Love In The Time of Cholera,” the title of a book by Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez. What happens to relationships right now? How are we supposed to date? What do we do if we’re separated from people we love? How long will we have to social distance from each other?

For many couples, this pandemic means that they are separated due to social distancing, travel restrictions, or mandated confinement/quarantine. Each relationship comes with its own unique set of challenges, but the uncertainty around coronavirus certainly poses a new challenge for couples, whether they just started dating or if they’ve been together for a long time.

If you’re currently separated from your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or partner because of coronavirus, here are some suggestions for how to keep your relationship healthy while you’re apart.

Remind yourself that everything is temporary.

This quarantine or period of confinement, depending on your geography, will not last forever. The uncertainty is the hardest part for most people, especially if the confinement period keeps getting extended, but this is not how things will be forever. There will be a moment in the future when you’re able to see each other again, so just remind yourself of that if you’re feeling like your relationship is doomed.

Practice gratitude daily.

Though you may be separated, practice gratitude for what you do have. Maybe you had just started dating and you were so excited about an initial spark, or maybe you’ve been together forever and you’re really feeling lonely without them around. Instead of focusing on the distance, focus instead on the fact that you have someone in your life you care about, and that you’ll be able to reunite when it’s safe to do so again.

Lean into the perks of a long-distance relationship.

Relationships can take up a lot of time. During this time where you’re separated, catch up on the stuff that you were procrastinating doing while you were still able to see each other all the time. Maybe you’ve put off some financial things you need to take care of (taxes!), or maybe you have been meaning to catch up with some distant family members on the phone. Use this time apart to focus on areas of your life that you may have neglected.

Meditate

During times of stress and uncertainty, relationships can take a hit. Sometimes we end up taking out frustrations on our partner, or we might feel insecure that we can’t be physically with them. To help you cope with difficult feelings (loneliness, jealousy, abandonment, etc), try to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day. You can use an app like Insight Timer, or join one of the many free online mindfulness events this month that are targeted towards people who are stuck at home.

As the saying goes, “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Love in the time of coronavirus may not be easy, but take this opportunity to strengthen your relationship with yourself, and in turn, with others. We’re wishing you well.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending now. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

How To Stay Sane During This Coronavirus Pandemic

Right now we’re all focused on our physical health, trying to avoid coronavirus with hand washing, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. It’s critical that we do all that we can to prevent its spread, and many of us are staying home to do that. But while we focus on our physical health, it’s also important to make sure we are taking care of our mental health while we’re at home. The mind and body connection is strong, so here are 3 ways to stay strong during the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Practice Yoga

Online yoga is a great way to relieve anxiety and stay in shape while you’re unable to go anywhere. All you need is your laptop or phone, and a little space to spread out.

While many yoga teachers have taken their practices online in the past week, to protect students and respect local guidelines around group gatherings, some have also been there all along! Yoga with Adriene is a wonderfully compassionate and relatable yoga teacher on YouTube, and she also offers more in-depth paid and donation based video programs.

2. Meditate

Meditation is a must if you’re trying to reduce stress and anxiety. According to meditation teacher Sara Shah, “Meditation teaches us how to sit with whatever is happening with a sense of confidence even if we don’t know what’s going to happen.” A lot of us are feeling scared and uncertain about the future, and grounding practices like meditation can help us feel calmer. It can help boost our immune systems, too. This is why she’s launching a 5-day meditation series to help with anxiety people are feeling due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can access it by subscribing to her newsletter.

Tara Brach is another meditation teacher who hosts a weekly talk available anywhere you listen to podcasts, and she also has an incredible library of donation-based guided meditations. Also, Spirit Rock meditation center posts their Monday meditations for anyone who wants to follow along at home, or you can also join one of their virtual meditation sitting groups if you’re starting to feel lonely. One of their teachers, Jack Kornfield, has even put together a free guide to creating your own home retreat. If you’re looking for an app, Insight Timer is a free app that you can download and start using right away for guided meditations, and it’s the one most recommended by meditation teachers.

3. Give Yourself A Content Break

The news is anxiety-inducing right now, and many newspapers are just recycling the same information over and over again. Try to set limits around how much time you are going to spend reading the news, and stick to them. Instead of going to the same news websites every hour, try setting a couple times a day when you’ll check. This will help manage your stress levels, which can help your immune system and overall mental state.

We know this isn’t an easy time for anyone, but we hope these practices and tips help you stay healthy.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending now. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

How Coronavirus Is Impacting Relationships And Breakups

Many people around the world are staying home, either voluntarily or because of a mandatory state or national lock-down. It’s an unprecedented event during peace time, and one that is completely foreign to younger generations.

Most Mend users are based in the US, UK or Europe, so we know that the vast majority of our community is at home with greasy hair, working remotely, reading the news obsessively and asking the same questions we’re all asking: When will things be normal again? Am I going to get laid off? How do I keep my immune system strong? Is this the time to try switching to the cup? Why didn’t I pay attention when my grandmother tried to teach me how to cook?

Reaching Out To Your Ex

If you’ve recently gone through a breakup or divorce, you’re probably wondering how your ex is doing with all of this. There may be a pandemic, but heartbreak still persists amidst global crises. Relationships are powerful. Breakups are powerful. And thoughts of our ex don’t just disappear overnight, even if we’re feeling a lot of fear and uncertainty right now. In some ways, fear and uncertainty can make our feelings of heartbreak even more intense.

Maybe you’ve already texted your ex to check in, or maybe you’re considering the impact of doing this. Our exes don’t just disappear from our brains, especially in the wake of a pandemic where we’re all worried about our loved ones (and ex-loved ones). In fact, thoughts about our exes may be even more persistent as we’re craving comfort. It’s normal to fall back onto habits during times of crisis, and it’s normal to crave some comfort from someone who was once in your life. Don’t beat yourself up about doing this. So what to do about it? 

There’s no playbook for what’s right or wrong in terms of communicating with an ex during a time like this, but you do want to watch out that you’re not using the pandemic as an excuse to check up on someone when you know deep down it won’t be healthy for you. Remember that it’s still important to protect your mental health. Consider if there are other loved ones (friends or family) who you can lean on for support during this time, and make sure to pause before reaching out to your ex. Is it really worth it? Will talking to your ex do any good for anyone, or is it just a reflex? Will it change the fact that you’re not together?

The Bright Side Of Social Distancing

For those who have recently gone through a breakup and have struggled with not seeing your ex, this is a rare moment in time where social distancing is the norm. We have created an entire program to help you socially distance yourself from your ex during non-pandemic times (it’s in our app, and also in this class), and now is actually the perfect time to do it. A pandemic  doesn’t make heartbreak easier, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that everyone is being asked to stay home. Meeting up with an ex has real risks right now, and in many places, it’s simply not allowed because it’s non-essential.

How Will Relationships Be Affected?

It will certainly be an important time for all relationships. Some couples who aren’t used to spending as much time together will be finding their way in the coming weeks, as they face each other day in and day out. For some couples, the added stress will likely cause fights.  More divorces and breakups are predicted as a consequence, but for some it will also be an opportunity to spend more quality time together and grow closer. Relationship expert Esther Perel says that couples will need to mindfully navigate the different ways in which they react to crises. Ultimately, all relationships will be tested, and many will come out stronger as a result of this increased time together. There will likely even be a baby boom post-pandemic, as we’ve seen after other similar moments in history.

Turning Inward

Regardless of your relationship status right now, it will be important to keep up the practices that support your mental health, even if your regular routine has been interrupted. For example, if you usually go to yoga or meditation at a studio, make sure you’re still finding ways to practice at home. We’ll be sharing more about how to take care of yourself during this time in another post.

Perhaps, if there has to be one, the silver lining of a pandemic is that it forces you to spend uninterrupted time with yourself and reflect on what’s happening internally. We spend so much of our lives focused outward on non-essential questions: What are my friends doing on Instagram? How does my hair look? Should I buy a new car? Do I need to redecorate my apartment? What does my ex think of me?

But what about all the essential internal questions we are often too afraid or busy to ask: What do I think of myself? What am I doing with my life? How am I contributing to my community? How am I contributing to the world?

Wishing you and your loved ones safety and good health.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can join one of our Mend programs. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

Two Online Mindfulness Events You Can Join From Home

With each day that passes, the world continues to shift in a way that is hard to process.

To support you as you cope with this current situation, I wanted to let you know about two events that I highly recommend joining this month. Both invitations were extended to me by organizations that I trust and care deeply about here at Mend, and I hope that many Menders will be able to join and benefit from these free offerings.

Note: These events have passed, but the organizations involved are all continuing to offer support and we encourage you to check out their websites for more information on up-to-date events.

Mindful Living Summit: March 19-22, 2020

With the disruption of life-as-usual, increased uncertainty, and possibly more time to reflect, we wanted to let you know of a free online offering from The Awake Network and Mindful that starts this Thursday.

The Mindful Living Summit is a free online event, March 19-22, 2020, gathering 16+ leading neuroscience experts, mindfulness teachers, and psychologists to explore practical insights, guided mindfulness practices, and helpful tools you can start using right now to cultivate inner-resilience, and strengthen our presence.

We hope this free offering is of benefit to you and a place to engage in an online practice community this coming week!

Register for free here.

In the Footsteps of Thich Nhat Hanh: March 25-29, 2020

You’re invited to join our community for a free 5-day online summit with nine senior Plum Village teachers, hosted by the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation in partnership with Lion’s Roar.

If you can’t come to Plum Village, Plum Village will come to you. To help you stay grounded as our lives and communities reorganize. We hope to give you a renewed sense of ease, so that in the midst of uncertainty, you will have a gentle smile on your face, and in the midst of isolation, you will remember that we inter-are.

Thay has touched the hearts of millions with his message of peace, non-violence, and kindness. From difficult beginnings as a Vietnamese monk forced into a life of exile, he has been instrumental in making Buddhism relevant for modern times.

Join us from March 25-29 to experience Thay’s legacy with teachings, meditations, and practices offered by nine senior Dharma teachers he has trained directly. Including Sister Chan Duc, Brother Phap Hai, Brother Phap Dung, Sister Dang Nghiem, Brother Phap Luu, Anh-Huong Nguyen, Shantum Seth, Larry Ward, and Peggy Rowe-Ward, this summit is a rare opportunity to connect deeply with the heart and home of our living Plum Village tradition and community.

Sign up for free to explore 5 key themes and dozens of teachings, guided meditations, and reflections during this online event.

Day 1: Building a Foundation of Mindfulness

Explore Thay’s core teachings on mindfulness, meditation, and walking meditation, supported by guided practices and reflections.

Day 2: Understanding our Mind with Buddhist Psychology

Dive deeper into Thay’s insight into the nature of our minds: How can we relate best to others? How can we bring mindfulness to our media consumption? And how can we work with our own strong emotions?

Day 3: Embodying the Beloved Community: Relationships and Community Building

Get transformative insights into relationships and the importance of community, looking at topics such as the meaning of love, healing the inner child, and how to connect meaningfully and compassionately with others.

Day 4: Interbeing: Tending to Mother Earth

How can we take refuge in the Earth, restoring our sense of ourselves as a part of a bigger picture? Discover concrete strategies to help heal our alienation from the Earth, nourish our gratitude, and dwell happily in the present moment.

Day 5: For a Future to Be Possible

How can we remain mindfully engaged with a world that’s in turmoil? Explore practices and skillful action that can help you bring courage, kindness, and resilience to the greatest challenges of our time.

If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending now. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.” 

The Thing To Do If You’re Seeking More Balance Right Now

Meditation is scientifically proven to decrease stress and increase focus. Regular meditators state they experience decreased anxiety and increased overall happiness after incorporating meditation into their daily lives.

In today’s busy world it is easy to skip out on setting aside the time in our days to meditate, but according to the experts the benefits of sitting on the meditation cushion prove to be worth the time. So how can we help make sure we meditate every day?

The researchers say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so here are six helpful tips on how to make daily meditation a habit:

1. Pick a time of the day to meditate and stick to it.

Like brushing our teeth, having a set time to meditate makes it more likely that we do it everyday. At first it may feel difficult, but soon it will become part of the daily routine. Many people meditate in the morning, right as they wake up, or after walking their dog, or as soon as they finish that first cup of morning coffee. Other people are nighttime meditators, choosing to take the time to sit and breathe at the end of their day right before bedtime to help wind down. Try it a couple different times of the day, see what works best for you, and then stick to it.

2. Create a space to meditate.

There’s no need to remodel your home when it comes to creating a space to meditate. Simply designating a specific seat at the kitchen table or a spot on the floor to one’s practice can do wonders in creating a meditation space. An extra step may include lighting a favorite candle before you begin to practice, incorporating another one of the five senses into the mix. By going a little further in making the practice feel more attuned to personal preferences, we become more willing to take the time to sit.

3. Sit. Even when you don’t want to.

At the start it can feel like a burden to carve twenty minutes, or even five minutes, out of our hectic schedules to meditate. It almost always feels like there could be something better we could be doing with our time then sitting and “doing nothing.” Seasoned meditators face this dilemma just as much as first time meditators, but seasoned meditators also know how their mind will feel if they don’t sit so they make sure not to skimp out on it. After the first month of regular meditating (for twenty minutes a day), MRI scans have shown a shrinkage of the amygdala, which is responsible for our brain’s flight or fight response. So even when it feels like a chore to sit down to meditate, try not to forget about all the benefits to be reaped.

4. Meditate with others.

Find other meditators to help keep you accountable. When first establishing a daily meditation practice it can be helpful to have a self-designated “accountability partner.” If you have a friend willing to act as your accountability partner, ask them if you can send them a text every day to check-in and share that you’ve meditated for the day. It can be a detailed text about how your practice was or it can just be an emoji describing the tone of the practice. Try it for four weeks and see how it affects both of your practices.

5. Be gentle with yourself.

Meditation may sound like a simple habit in theory, but it can be a difficult one to establish. Remember to be kind to yourself as you learn to calm your mind. Meditation is meant to be a form of self-care, not a form of self-aggression, so treat yourself well as you work to establish a daily practice. You can even reward yourself with a treat at the end of the week for a job well done once you’ve completed your first seven consecutive days of meditating (we are fans of a daily rewards system for ourselves as well).

6. Find an online community that can help support you. 

Online communities can be a great support system to keep you on track with a new practice of meditation. My own platform Mother Yin is a free holistic online platform created to help women find balance in their bodies, minds, and lives. It features wholesome balancing meditations in its bi-monthly email newsletter, as well as interviews with leading female meditation teachers to help inspire your own meditation practice for those moments when you don’t feel like sitting on the cushion.

Happy Meditating in 2020! Be gentle, be kind, be soft, like the breath.

On The Mend’ Episode 3 Featuring Mereki, Artist & Founder of Be Kind

In this episode of “On The Mend,” Elle interviews singer and founder of Be Kind, Mereki Beach. Elle sat down with Mereki in 2016 to discuss the heartbreak upon heartbreak of losing her father, long-term boyfriend, and grandmother all within a matter of months. It was a rough year, to say the least. The two reunite in this podcast, years later, to reflect on her growth since then in a touching and vulnerable discussion.

Mereki and Elle agreed that grief is a multifaceted beast. It never leaves. The singer discusses how grief has continued to creep up on her when she least expects it, even years after the death of her father. She reveals that post-traumatic growth opens up wounds she thought she already healed from in order to present new ways for her to grow and learn. But there is a silver lining. Grieving and heartbreak build a path of resilience that leads to a stronger person with the ability to build more authentic connections.

This touching story of growth and transformation is one we can all either relate to or learn from. We don’t learn how to cope with grief in school, but we can learn from each other. Mereki gives advice on how to help loved ones who are grieving and also touches on how her grieving process has affected her music, the importance of her friendships, and her fiercely independent reliance on herself. We are so grateful for Mereki’s vulnerability and wisdom, and we know that our Menders can benefit from this episode of “On The Mend.”

You can listen to “On The Mend” on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts. We’re so excited to bring you more episodes full of life-affirming advice and stories to help you mend.