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 this period of lockdown. 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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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 Mend.

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 our annual Mend subscriptions for a limited time. 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.

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, which is available in Mend.

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 our annual Mend subscriptions for a limited time. We cover topics like sex with your ex, letting go, and how to recover from rebounds. Sign up to get started.

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.

LILAP Episode: Is Social Media Ruining Your Love Life?

Should you unfollow your ex on social media, block them, or neither? In this episode of “Love is Like a Plant,” Elle and Sarah discuss how to break up with your ex’s social media. It’s best to limit exposure to your ex as much as possible, and although you don’t need to keep them blocked forever, following them definitely hurts your mending process if they’re active online. 

To take it a step further, Sarah even suggests asking your friends not to mention to you when they’ve been tagged in someone else’s posts or like something suspicious. The two also discuss how social media can affect relationships, and really, this applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones.

Is it time for you to take a social media detox for a bit? Listen in to see if it would be something you’re interested in trying to help you mend. You can listen to the episode on iTunes or on Soundcloud. Follow and share if you like it, and be sure to send it to a friend who could use some time away from social media.

Love Is Like A Plant Episode: Sex With Your Ex

Why is it so common to have sex with your ex? It leaves us half stuck in the relationship while we’re trying to emotionally detach, but it floods us with hormones and neurotransmitters that make detachment really hard to do. So how do you stop?

Elle and Sarah discuss the very practical reasons why we decide to have sex with an ex in the first place and then discuss how to stop, or how to recover if you’re having a hard time staying away. If you find yourself in that messy situation where you turn to your ex for sex, listen to this podcast to help you understand what exactly is keeping you hooked and how to walk away. 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 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.

If you’re having trouble getting through this breakup, you don’t have to do it alone. Let Mend help you get started on making your heart whole again.

My Elizabeth Gilbert-Inspired Breakup Trip

I remember when I first read Eat, Pray, Love. Months before, I was speaking about it to some friends who all seemed resigned in their conclusion that the book was fluff, vapid, the stuff of Nicholas Sparks novels. 

Someone gave it to me. It sat on my shelf until I needed it. Until I broke up with the man I had been dating for 4 years and remembered some criticism of the book having to do with the target audience: 30-somethings who are newly single. Perfect.

I recall the book being entertaining and having some passages that struck a chord but only recently have I come to appreciate it’s true value. Perhaps it’s the relationship I just ended that is so similar to the relationships Elizabeth Gilbert struggles with. An experience that made me feel like she was writing specifically to me. This quote for example:

“We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation. Both of us deserve better than staying together because we’re afraid we’ll be destroyed if we don’t.”

Had she ended the paragraph with my name, I’m pretty sure it couldn’t have spoken to me more clearly. Or this one:

“Listen to me. Some day you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing.”

Immediately after it became real that we were breaking up, that it wasn’t an empty threat we spat at each other after our more-and-more-frequent fights, I watched Eat, Pray, Love. Then I purchased a ticket to a yoga retreat in The Bahamas and planned accordingly.

Perhaps the strangest thing about break ups that one is never really prepared for, is how totally and completely the world is turned on its head. All perspective is lost. 

The beauty of The Bahamas trip was how remarkably it allowed me to check back into who I am, where I am and what I want. I cried during the flight there. Everything felt sad and lonely. And even after getting there and sitting with some remarkable people for dinner, I had to excuse myself. 

The red-eye flight and the build up of tears led me back to my room at 7pm. I cried and felt so powerless. I felt that all I wanted in the world was for him to call me and promise he’d change, our relationship would change, he’d fight for me, he didn’t want to lose me. I yearned for this. I wanted it deep within my bones.

Despite being so on board with our break up weeks before, fighting for all the reasons to throw in the towel, here I was yearning to go back to the relationship that had shrunk me down to a person I barely recognized. This reaction makes sense on a psychological level. 

Anthropologist Helen Fisher has done some really interesting studies on what happens to the brain when you are in love, and conversely when you are suffering through a break up. She collected data from several heartbroken souls who were put into an MRI machine and then shown a picture of the person that broke their heart. 

She found that the same parts of the brain that are associated with physical pain are triggered as well as those parts of the brain that are associated with drug addiction. She believes the origin is in biology. “In a way, nature gave us this response as a protection,” she says. “It helps us keep relationships going under adverse circumstances, which is important for keeping our species going.” 

In other words, it’s supposed to hurt. And you’re supposed to want to get back together with the person causing the hurt. For more on this check out this article from the Greater Good.

That said, I was in The Bahamas and was so wanting to let some of the pain go. It was weighing me down and I needed a break. I wanted inspiration and light.

So I spent my time there going to yoga classes and meditating, laying on the beach and soaking in as much warmth and sunlight as possible. During my first yoga class, while my brain was spinning out of control, reworking conversations I had had, wishing I had said X or Y, and anticipating every type of future interaction, I realized I had almost forgotten I was standing on a platform looking out at the ocean surrounded by swamis. 

I was brought back when my yoga instructor stated, “Give yourself permission to let go of what is no longer serving you.” And I realized there was great power there. The endless ruminating, though biologically ingrained to propagate my species, was not serving me. At all. So slowly I began letting things go that were not serving me. And amazingly, that created space for some beautiful alternatives.

During my time there I had the pleasure of conversing with Jon, a lovely older gentleman from the UK who had the most amazing warmth. He managed to see right to the depth of my suffering. 

During our first conversation, right as I had spent the previous night going back and forth about what I was willing to do to make the relationship work (I would learn to ski! I would climb! I would mountaineer! I would eat every 2 hours so that I was never hangry), Jon looked at me and said, “the minute you begin to believe that if you do X or have X you will be enough, is when you have become lost to who you are. Doing X or having X will never make you more loveable, worthy or whole.”

As the week went on, I began sleeping, stopped crying and felt my heart literally crack open. My chest was swollen with love.

The morning that I was leaving I had woken up at 6am to meditate and I could barely sit there. My mind was anxious with returning and what I would confront when I got home. Could I keep my heart open? Could I keep breathing and let go of what was no longer serving me? 

During my last meal there, Jon sat next to me and commented on my struggling from earlier in the morning. He noticed. I told him about my fears. He looked as though he already knew. He said, “your relationship was perfect for getting you to where you need to be. So much of our suffering is ego and if we can just sit, feel and breathe, without attaching ourselves to the (often bipolar) thoughts, without thinking about how wronged we were, or how righteous we are, we can reduce the suffering.” 

Finally, he said that when someone comes at you with their finger pointing in your face (either literally or figuratively) and hurls hurtful words at you, ignore them. What they’re saying is “you aren’t loving me in the way that I need and my heart is hurting.”

I packed up his insight, my sandy bathing suit and yoga clothes and boarded the little boat to take me over to the mainland and back home to Sacramento.

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!

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

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.

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.

Four Communication Styles That Predict A Breakup

Relationship researcher John Gottman was able to predict whether a married couple will divorce with 90% accuracy by studying the way they communicate. He found that people are very stable, 80% stable to be exact, in the way that they discuss conflict over the years of long-term relationships. Since people are so consistent in how they communicate, Gottman was able to identify four communication styles that will ultimately lead to a breakup if they’re not eliminated. He calls them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness.

Criticism

Criticism is critiquing your partner’s character. This happens when critiquing something a partner did goes too far. An innocent complaint becomes an unnecessary snide remark about who they are as a person. It’s when “you didn’t call” becomes “you never call because you only care about yourself.” It’s natural to try to rationalize and wonder why someone is doing something that bothers us, but try not to overthink it until you get a chance to discuss. It’s unhealthy to make assumptions about them because this often turns into a very personal attack. Always make sure to give your partner a chance to explain before you throw out accusations or use words that harm their character, such as calling them dishonest, lazy, or unfaithful.

Contempt

Contempt is acting with hatred towards your partner and is the greatest predictor of a breakup due to the lack of basic respect. This happens when instead of talking about issues as they arise, disappointments build up until they turn into anger that you can’t hold in any longer. It can easily bring out the worst of us and reveal everything we hate about our partner that we never got a chance to tell them. So we figure, “why not tell them all at once?” Sarcasm, name calling, and taking a position of superiority fall under this category. It’s when “you didn’t call” becomes “what the hell else were you doing? You don’t do anything all day except sit on your lazy a– and play video games. You’re worthless.” To avoid this, try bringing up your complaints as they come, from the very beginning. In a new relationship, you may not want to rock the boat, but it’s important to set a foundation for communicating problems in a timely manner and in a healthy way.

Stonewalling

Stonewalling is removing yourself from an argument physically or mentally. It’s when eyes glaze over or stay very still, the face tenses up, and the rest of the body does with it. Then, you just detach. You freeze, or stare out the window, or obsessively clean, or leave the room entirely. The physiological response that the body takes to the argument is overwhelming, so in this scenario, it’s critical to give each other some time to cool down before returning to discuss within the hour. If you need more than an hour, that’s cool too, just be sure to communicate those needs to your partner.

Defensiveness

Defensiveness is trying to protect yourself in a way that invalidates your partner’s complaints. This is one of the most common responses during arguments because it is very natural to try to insist upon your innocence when someone has a complaint. This happens not only in relationships but also families, friendships and workplaces. It’s when “you didn’t call” becomes “well I was doing [x] and [y], which I already told you I’d be doing, and don’t you forget to call me too, sometimes? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?” This is when you hear the “it’s not my fault” responses. The desired effect is that your partner realizes that you are not in the wrong and they apologize for blaming you, but the actual effect is an implication that your partner is the one in the wrong, that they should have known your unique situation and acted or forgiven accordingly. An unfortunate downfall of defensiveness is that it is easily paired with criticism. Make sure you let your partner feel heard by owning up to your mistakes and taking the responsibility to repair that. Isn’t that what you would want to be done for you? You can still explain why you messed up while also acknowledging that you messed up.

If you express any of these communication styles, know that they’re often very natural reactions. The silver lining is that you can learn healthy communication styles to better express your emotions and complaints. Read “How to Communicate When Something Bothers You” to gain more insight on how to address concerns in a healthy way, which is an amazing general life skill that goes beyond romantic relationships.

How Men Are Affected Differently By Breakups

Is there any evidence as to which gender a breakup is actually harder on? I studied exactly this and came out of it with a few reasons as to why breakups may hurt women more initially but are actually harder on men in the long run.

Young men are socialized out of social support.

According to this study, male babies are more emotive than female babies. They are not only more likely to cry and show negative emotions but also more likely to express joy. This means that, naturally, males are actually more social than females, which is true up until they reach school age, about 5 years old. Niobe Way, a researcher on friendships between boys as they mature, found that up until their early teenage years, young boys develop very deep connections with their friends (just like girls!). These friendships are based on secrets and respected vulnerability, up until they begin to believe secrets and vulnerability are “girly” in their mid-teens when their focus shifts to romantic relationships. With romance to worry about, they don’t want to come off as if they are interested romantically in their male friends, and they don’t want to be teased for expressing closeness or vulnerability. These are fears they carry with them, maybe even subconsciously, into adulthood. So, they just sort of stop these deep friendships and drift into loneliness and sometimes, ensuing depression.

Social support carries with it an immense number of benefits!

It enriches your life in so many ways, such as a boost in mental health, confidence, validation, affirmations, reminders that you’re hilarious and fun and amazing. Often times, a man’s partner is his only source of social support, so after a breakup, he doesn’t know who or how to reach out. Women are far more likely to vocalize their feelings to their social network and have their whole squad come to vent, cry, wallow, and gossip with them. When men don’t seek out social support, they bottle in their emotions without truly working through the breakup, sometimes carrying unresolved baggage with them for years. This can happen to women too, of course, when they don’t have friends that support them, but women are much more comfortable being vulnerable because there is less social stigma against it.

So, men, maturity does not mean independence, and strength does not mean emotional apathy. Think of strength as the ability to find resilience in not just yourself, but by letting those around you help you to build it. Think of maturity as the ability to disregard unsupportive, judgmental opinions about your feelings, because everything you feel is valid and important. Needing friends is not a sign of weakness, rather, admitting you need them is a sign of immense strength

Men use different coping strategies.

Another research study found that women are able to recover more fully from a breakup than men. The study found that men feel a more intense desire to jump right back into dating so they can “replace” what they lost in order to prove that they can. This doesn’t mean they are over the breakup, but it may be the only way they know how to recover from it. This might be because their partner was their primary, and possibly only, source of social support, so they feel the need to find social support romantically or sexually to replace that loss of intimacy and closeness. While dating or hooking up may help them to feel better in the short term, eventually residual feelings resurface and they are still left to deal with unresolved reactions to the breakup.

Dating can be great for the mending process, but to make sure it’s not just to use someone as a replacement, rebound, or a distraction, try to make connections with potential friends rather than love interests, first. If you’ve reflected on the breakup and have been allowing yourself to feel all the emotions it brings rather than pushing them aside, and if you feel ready to date in order to find love again, go for it!

Overall, we all feel very similarly.

According to a psychologist, the sense of loss and identity conflict that men and women feel is the same. However, we assume it’s different simply because we handle breakups so differently. Men prefer action, like working out and rebounding, while women prefer connecting-verbally explaining or showing what they feel. I believe a large part of this is because men almost feel like they’re not allowed to show emotions, and don’t have the social support necessary. So, they take to physiological release rather than emotional release. But the feelings are still there, and will only persist the longer they are shoved away, which is why it may seem like men have a delayed reaction to breakups. When the distractions fade away, the realness of it will come pouring in. The coping strategies they use simply delay having to face the pain, while the coping strategies women use have them on the mend from square one.

To the men reading, hopefully this research shines a light on the need for social support and allowing emotions to be felt rather than pushed aside. It all boils down to the fact that women are more familiar with their feelings and able to work through them more quickly and in a healthier way than men who experience heartbreak. A good place to start is by seeing a best bud and actually talking about how you are dealing with the breakup. Tell your friend what you need (advice, a listening ear, affirmations), because he may not know how to respond. Setting aside time for daily journaling, like we do on Mend after you listen to a training, will help to make sense of your feelings.

A True Partner Will Weather the Storms with You

We had been fighting. Every tiny provocation, that would typically not even get acknowledged, would cause a weeklong raging argument. Every word that came out of his mouth was one tiny little snowflake that would fall on top of the snowy mountain and cause an avalanche. When I responded in this way, his first instinct was to ignore me and hope that these overwhelming negative emotions I had would subside. After a couple days of not really talking to each other, they would. But then the next snowflake would fall, and it would start all over again.

He was unhappy, I was unhappy. I do not know why we stayed together. I would break up with him, and then a couple hours later feel so alone that I would apologize and ask him to take me back. As all of this was happening, and as I type this, I realize that this behavior gets you the label of “crazy girlfriend”. 

However, looking back, the way I acted makes sense. During this time, one of my parents had severe health problems that could have taken him away from me at any second; my roommate was taking out her own problems on me; my semester academically was tremendously challenging; I was in financial trouble. Every chapter of my life was going awry.

Throughout all of this, I did not realize it, but I completely withdrew from my support network. When my close friends would call or ask to hang out, I could always come up with a reason why I would not be able to make it. The one person who was always there, even though I would never communicate what was actually going on, was my partner.

But after months of this, he had enough. We had been in one of our typical weeklong arguments and I broke up with him. This time it was only minutes later that I called him back and said I was sorry. But he had had enough. He told me everything that I would have told a friend to say to their significant other. “I love you but I cannot be in this relationship anymore.” “Every little thing I do sets you off and I can’t be with you if everything I do makes you miserable.”

Hearing this broke my heart. I felt pain throughout my whole body and could feel my heart pounding as he spoke those words to me. I felt like I could not breathe and I did not know how to act or what to do. The next couple of days consisted of me reliving every beautiful memory we had shared on repeat, every time feeling a rush of pain when one of those thoughts crossed my through my mind. I felt it all. Regret. Nostalgia. Distraught. Remorse.

Looking back, now that I am starting to heal, I like to believe that I can see what happened clearer. I can think about it almost without pain. I should have been honest. I should have at least given him a chance. But no one’s life is perfect, and everyone goes through periods where everything seems to be going wrong. I wish I could go back and tell the person I was then what I know now. But I can’t.

I don’t leave this experience with regrets though. I leave with an incredibly important lesson that I would not have known if it had not been for this event. You cannot rely completely on your partner for support. You cannot expect someone to be there for you if you do not tell them what is going on and how you are feeling. Yes, they might completely let you down. But you never know when there will be that one person that will help you rise back up again. Now that I’m better equipped to be vulnerable, I look forward to meeting that person one day and weathering the storms of life together.

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 “Is it Great Chemistry or 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!

Retreat To Portugal: Join Us For Our Next Mend Away

From March 7-14, 2020 we’ll be heading to Cocoon, an idyllic 275-acre coastal farm and yoga retreat in the Alentejo region of Portugal, two hours south of Lisbon.

Our focus on this retreat will be unplugging from our daily routines to focus on our physical and mental wellbeing. One big difference in this Mend Away is that the focus will not be heartbreak, so it is open to everyone, whether you’re mending, single, dating, or coupled. 

For this retreat, we have single, double and triple rooms available on a first-come, first-served basis. Every room faces the courtyard and has its own bathroom. We’re offering a $100 early bird discount if you’re one of the first ones to reserve your spot.

Our founder and CEO Elle will co-host alongside Martyna (yoga teacher) and Sara (meditation coach), who both taught during Mend Away in Barcelona. They are exceptional teachers and women who we can’t wait for you to meet. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect on this retreat, and we hope to see you in Portugal next year!

Yogaoutdoorshalalarge

Tune In

You’ll meditate and practice yoga daily under the trees or in Cocoon’s indoor shala. Your morning yoga practice will be energizing (yang) and your practice later in the day will be restorative (yin). We welcome beginner yogis and meditators, as well as those with more experience, as Martyna and Sara will provide options and modifications.

Dinner

Nourish

You’ll enjoy 3 delicious farm-to-table meals a day prepared by Cocoon’s world-class chef using ingredients sourced from the farm and locally whenever possible. The menu will be mostly plant-based (vegetarian and vegan-friendly) and served with love, family-style.

Portugalcoast

Explore

You’ll have time each day to rest and relax in nature, bike to the beach, sign up for a surf lesson, swim in Cocoon’s freshwater lake or explore nearby villages. The weather in March is generally mild (mid-60s), and we’ll provide packing suggestions.

So, see you in Portugal?

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

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. When does Adele’s next album drop again?

Six Women Tell Us What Hygge Means to Them

Hygge is special because it can mean something different to everyone. From creating a cozy atmosphere to cooking up a storm, here’s what hygge means to 6 women around the world:

1) Embracing the simple pleasure of life

In her piece, I Practiced Hygge and It’s Kind of The Best Thing Ever, Author Anne Roderique-Jones shares hygge tips from the author of ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Living Happy’, Meik Wiking. Our favorite tip from the book: hygge doesn’t have to be too self-helpy or cost anything. It’s more about embracing the simple pleasures of life.

2) A cozy night in 

According to Designer Alicia Cesaro, hygge is all about “Cashmere! Candles! Coziness!” What she enjoys most about hygge is the idea of getting together with family, friends, and loved ones and staying in. She shares her top tips for creating a cozy night-in environment for everyone to enjoy.

3) A less anxious life 

In her piece, I Tried The Hygge Trend That Everyone’s Obsessed With Right Now, Marie Telling writes about how she lived the hygge life for a week and found that “having a purpose — to be hygge — was actually soothing”. She spent so much time seeking out coziness that she stopped worrying about other aspects of her life that usually made her anxious.

4) Not being too hard on yourself 

When Meena Hart Duerson tried out the hygge lifestyle she concluded: “Ultimately, hygge is about not being so hard on yourself, and finding different ways to relax and connect with the people and experiences in your life that bring you joy.” It’s no wonder why Denmark is consistently ranked #1 for happiness in the world! Read her piece here

5) People you love 

Fashion and sustainability influencer Signe Hansen lived the hygge lifestyle on vacation. For her, it represented being surrounded by the people she loved, feeling comfortable and safe and creating beautiful memories. Watch her video here

6) Making the simple things extraordinary 

According to Liz LeClair, when it comes to using hygge for healing heartbreak, “It’s about acknowledging the simple things in our everyday lives, and making them extraordinary and special. It’s a feeling and overall mood of complete comfort and coziness. It’s a genuine appreciation for the smallest details that leave you feeling warm-hearted and serene. It is the best way to relieve your mind of sadness and heartache.” Read more to find out how hygge can help mend a broken heart.

We hope you find these interpretations of hygge helpful and inspiring to switch off from the bustle and enjoy the simple pleasures this winter.

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.

Why You Should Be Body Brushing and Ice Rolling Post-Breakup

During difficult times, self care goes a long way. Whether you’re going through a breakup, a rough patch in your relationship, or just feeling stressed out, here are a few self care practices to bring some comfort and coziness into your life.

1. Dry Body Brushing

Dry brushing the skin before showering is a wonderfully uplifting and therapeutic beauty practice that you can easily do at home. It’s rejuvenating, exfoliating and helps you feel instantly revived because it  helps the lymphatic system. Brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and helps the body detoxify itself naturally.

Tip:1: The best way to dry brush is to brush towards the heart (you could also incorporate a mindfulness practice with the dry brushing by sending love and healing to the heart), starting at the feet and hands and brushing toward the chest. 

Tip #2: Dry brush in the morning to kickstart circulation and give you a natural energy boost. 

Tip #3: The best type of dry brush is a firm, natural bristle brush with a handle so that you can easily reach your back and down your legs.

2. Ice Rolling

Ice rolling is a trusty pick-me-up for post breakup tears and lack of sleep. It primes your face for makeup, reduces puffiness and pores, lifts the face and minimizes redness and signs of fatigue. Plus, it instantly makes you feel more ‘awake’. All you need to do is keep it in the freezer and use it in the morning or when your face needs a perk up! We recommend this one from Amazon.

3. Collagen Eye Pads

If you’ve had some sleepless nights, collagen eye pads can be used when you wake up to kick start your day. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and it’s what gives your skin its strength, smoothness and elasticity. 

There are many brands out there for varying budgets but these soothing cucumber infused ones have a lovely, fresh scent we like.

4. Clay Baths

Benetton clay is amazing for cleansing the body of toxins and reducing stress. It’s best to have your bath before bed time as it also helps to prime you for sleep. Just mix 3/4 of a cup of clay (there are many available on Amazon) using a wooden spoon in a small amount of water until it’s as clump free as possible. Add the clay mix to your bath and relax in there for around 20 – 30 minutes. For a sense of calm and tranquility, you can add in a few drops of lavender essential oil. If you don’t have a bath in your home, you can also do a foot bath using Benetton clay, which still helps with detoxing.

5. Hydrate!

Probably one of the easiest, most affordable and effective self-care practices out there. Drinking more water will offer you all kinds of benefits. Your mind will feel less fuzzy, you’ll have more energy, it will improve your digestion and your skin will glow! Aim for around 2 liters a day if you can and see how much better you feel!

Have you tried any of these? What are your favorite self care practices? 

The 6 Female Founded Sex Brands You Need To Know About

Women are at the forefront of another sexual revolution, and we’re so happy to see them lead emerging sex tech brands. Here are just a few making waves:

Unbound

Unbound, founded by Polly Rodriguez and Sarah Janye, is a quarterly curated subscription box service that sends you a variety of sex toys, lubes, gels and props. Their vibe is irreverent and fun, and their digital mag promotes fun, honest and inclusive conversations around sex and intimacy; for women to not fear or be embarrassed by it but rather, be empowered! Pro tip: follow them on Instagram to keep your feed interesting.

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Salty

Launched on Valentine’s Day by Claire Fitzsimmons, Salty is a feminist “NSFW newsletter” that covers dating, sex and relationships for women, trans and nonbinary people. Claire’s intention for Salty is to create a space for all voices to be heard, celebrated and respected and to encourage new ideas and innovation. Sign yourself up for Salty!

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Maude

Maude’s motto is “sex made simple” and their beautiful Kinfolk-y design reflects their mission of sexual wellness for all. Co-founders Eva Goicochea (Tinker Watches, Everlane) and Dina Epstein created their unisex toys and lube to feel elevated and essential, and above all, inclusive. If you’re turned off by sparkly neon pink bunnies, get Maude.

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Lorals

Lorals, founded by Melanie Crystal, is a revolutionary women’s lingerie brand created specifically for oral sex. Melanie developed the brand to help women do what they really want to do and not hold back. Lorals are designed for single use so you put them on for oral sex and foreplay and get to feel everything – it’s the dental dam re-invented. Intrigued?

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Slutever

Karley Sciortino is the writer and personality behind Slutever, a destination that explores sexuality and relationships through humor, experience, and intellect. In addition to her own writing, Karley is also Vogue’s emotional health expert and also recently launched the Slutever show on Vice (the episode about weed lube is our favorite). We love Karley because she’s open, shame-free and willing to test boundaries – a true revolutionary we are happy to follow.

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Elvie 

Tania Boler launched Elvie with women’s sexual fitness in mind. The Elvie Trainer is a pebble-sized kegel trainer that connects to a smartphone app to track and improve a woman’s pelvic floor muscles. Why strengthen these muscles? Well, a stronger pelvic floor means higher levels of arousal, more lubrication and stronger orgasms for women. We’re in.

On with the revolution!

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.

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!

Marta Goldschmied On Romeo & Juliet Heartbreak

When we sat down with Marta to talk about heartbreak, we immediately noticed the Blue Jean Baby tattoo on her shoulder – denim is in her genes. Daughter to the Godfather of Denim, Adriano Goldschmied, Marta is making a name for herself in the fashion world as the founder and designer of MADE GOLD, her luxury denim and lifestyle brand. You can follow her on Instagram @missgoldschmied and @MADE.GOLD.

ROMEO + JULIET
“I have been involved with the same person off and on for 10 years. The person that broke my heart in February is the same person that broke my heart the first time when I was 22. I met him when I was 16 and we were together from 16 to 22. We broke up but always found ourselves reconnecting. And we really tried again recently – we were going to get married this summer, and have babies, and everything, but we never made it. He was my first everything. I’m from Italy, come from a good, big family and from a different culture than him. He was from South Central and he never had strong family support. I hate to sound corny, but we were like Romeo and Juliet. He’s told me that the first person he’s felt unconditional love for was me. So it was heavy from the start. There was a lot of baggage.”

HER FIRST HEARTBREAK
“I broke up with him. It was crazy because I didn’t think about it. I wasn’t going back and forth about it. It was just one argument one day. He asked me for a ride and I don’t know why, but I just blew up and was like ‘You don’t need a girlfriend, you need a mother.’ But it was also time for us to break up. We fought all the time. We were like a young Bobby and Whitney. He’s a Leo and I’m a Scorpio. We were always at each other’s throats. It was either really good or really bad. When I was with him, I never experienced an in-between. It was very unsettling in a way. After breaking up, he went overseas to play basketball and I stayed. We had zero contact. We went from speaking to each other every single day to not talking for about two and a half years. I know this sounds really dramatic, but in a way it’s almost like a death because you don’t have any contact with this person. And obviously death is horrible, but it almost felt like fuck, this is worse because he is alive. The whole time we were broken up, I thought oh my god, no one’s loved me like that, all because no one had acted as crazy. That craziness we shared created a connection. I was so young when I fell in love with him so it was all I knew.”

GETTING BACK TOGETHER
“After our first breakup, I dated guys that were just like him and he dated girls that were just like me. One night, we randomly ran into each other on Hollywood and Highland and my best friend hyped it all up, “You two are meant to be!” So we reconnected. Soon after he left me – he disappeared. I don’t think he freaked out. I think he never let go of the fact that I dumped him. To him, it was as if I abandoned him like everyone else in his past had. To this day, he doesn’t understand that I had to break up with him then. There was a lot of that stuff going on when we were younger – jealousy and cheating. For me, leaving him was something that made sense. My family was even involved. It was very heavy for everyone. But he could never rationalize and understand that I had to break up with him for myself. Once he disappeared, we didn’t talk for another two years and I got into another relationship. About a year and a half into that new relationship I got a Facebook message from him saying, “If it wasn’t for you, I’d be dead or in jail. I owe you so much.” He wasn’t reaching out to get back together. He just wanted to say thank you, which was nice. And of course, I broke up the relationship I was in because, in a sick way, I couldn’t get over him.”

HER MOST RECENT HEARTBREAK
“This last time we broke up, it was over the phone on the first day of sales week in New York. We were about to show our second season to our biggest account, so it was a big deal. And I remember crying at the cupcake store nearby and my friend yelled said “What the fuck are you doing? You are literally doing the same shit you did 10 years ago. There has been no progression and he didn’t even break up with you in a mature way.” Then I thought, Yea, what the fuck am I doing? And it sucks – you don’t just stop loving someone, but I had to face the reality.”

LOVE IN THE AGE OF INSTAGRAM
“I know it sounds petty, but social media is part of the reason why we broke up. He had an Instagram that I didn’t know about and we were still dating at the time, and once I found out about it, instead of following me, he wanted to delete his Instagram. He had kept his Instagram hidden from me. He also didn’t want to follow me on Facebook and I was like “You want to have children with me but you won’t even follow me on Facebook?” It’s especially weird when you’re with someone that lives all the way across the world from you. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with people for stupid stuff like seeing photos of when I dye my hair. He thought I was childish and wanted to show him off like he was a prize and that I just wanted to show off having a boyfriend. But it’s my life. You show off your life on social media.”

HER SOCIAL MEDIA VICES
“I’ve done stupid shit on social media since Myspace. He had a Facebook while he was in college and I made up a fake profile and would write him pretending I was a different girl from Wyoming. The very same day I left to return to LA after visiting him, he answered a Facebook message from the fake girl. I feel like you shouldn’t snoop because you always end up finding something. But it’s easier said than done. He’s sneaky too.”

MANY LIVES, MANY MASTERS
“I was reading Many Lives, Many Masters. It’s all about how sometimes you meet someone and you’re like fuck, I feel like I’ve known you forever. It’s about past lives, how people are connected, and how you’re always around the same energies and souls but just in different ways. And how sometimes unresolved business gets passed on from lives. So when we broke up, I was like maybe in our next life, we’ll take this up again.”

REDIRECTING HER ENERGY INTO MADE GOLD
“Crying doesn’t make me feel better. I’d just rather put my energy into something positive. Something that is going to make me better. Something that will make me money. I launched my own denim line called MADE GOLD, a lifestyle brand. We started with denim but now we have leather and knits, all made in LA. I’ve followed in my father’s footsteps. I’m the only one of three daughters that did, so he is very happy. I’m doing it with my best friend. It’s been a crazy journey but it’s been a lot of fun. We are currently working on Spring/Summer 2016. And we’re going to show in New York and Paris. I’ve been traveling a lot. It takes so much time and energy that when I went through this break up, it just didn’t feel as heavy as when we were younger. I am just throwing my energy into something that is positive. We work from 6am to 10pm in warehouses and factories. You don’t even have the time to think about the break up. That’s what’s really helped me.”

MENTAL STRENGTH
“Being a young female in the industry I’m in, I have to be very strong all of the time. I work with all older men and I can’t let them see any type of emotion. As a girl, you really have to prove yourself. You don’t want to be written off as emotional or crazy. You have to be very composed, especially when at board meetings. I’m the majority of my company, so I’m a big part of the behind the scenes, not just the design. If I let the break up get to me and I get to work already emotional, then all of my work is going to be crashing down. If I’m negotiating money, and say I cry, they’ll become sharks and eat me up. Mentally, I have to be focused on my business. If I wake up thinking about my ex or about how the relationship went wrong, my whole day is going to go wrong.”

RELATIONSHIPS SHE ADMIRES
“My parents are still together. My parents met and 4 months later they ran away to Ensenada and got married, had us and then got legally married in Italy. They’re still married today. My dad traveled so much while I was growing up and my mom just held everything down. There’s always been such a strong partnership, love and respect for each other. But I’m a sucker for troubled loved relationships. Those like Johnny Depp and Kate Moss, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, Sid and Nancy – I like the darker, tragic love stories. That’s my predicament.”

WHAT SHE WANTS NOW
“What I want now is so different than what I wanted 10 years ago. I was 16 then and wanted the tall guy with the 6-pack. I got him, I just didn’t know he was going to come with all the extras. But now, I just want someone that is loyal, low-key, driven. He doesn’t have to be successful, but he has to be passionate about what he does. I need someone that calms me because I’m on 100 all the time.”

LESSONS SHE’S LEARNED
“I’ve learned not to expect to receive the same amount of love you give to other people. It’s not always 50/50. I give so much. But that’s life though. Better to learn it sooner than later. Another lesson I’ve learned is being aware of what I give. In my future relationship, I know to be guarded a little more, which is sabotaging the next guy in a way. That’s the one thing I regret, now – I’ll never give so much of myself to someone. I’ll never have that feeling of going to sleep with him and thinking that everything is so pure and full of unconditional love. I haven’t opened up as much as I did and I don’t think I will.”

SHE IS STILL A LOVER
“Don’t get me wrong – I love love. I’m a lover. I want to fall in love. I’m not one of those girls who say that they don’t believe in good men anymore. I do. I think they’re are a lot of good men out there. I just think a lot of girls put too much energy. You shouldn’t have to put so much energy into something that is supposed to make you happy. You shouldn’t try to make pieces fit that obviously don’t fit. No need to force it. There are a lot of guys out there. So many options. We were right then, but who knows what’s going to be right for me in a year? I’m changing so I’m just going with the flow. Before, I was very adamant, I have to make this work. And now I’m like it’s okay, we had something really good at times, really crazy, a learning experience, and I’ll just take it for what it was.”

HER MANTRA: LOVE
“I’m finally open to let someone into my life.”

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!

Podcast Episode: How To Have A Healthy Long Distance Relationship

Welcome to our last Love Is Like A Plant episode of the 2019 season!

In this episode, we offered a response to a LILAP listener’s question about how to have a healthy long-distance relationship, one where you’re not clinging even though the person is far away. We shared a few really important strategies for healthy relationships in this episode that are helpful whether you’re in an LDR or not.

We’re thankful for each of you and we’re looking forward to sharing new episodes this year!

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.

Emotional Minimalism: Declutter Your Heart

Emotional minimalism allows you to be intentional with your thoughts and the way you fill the space in your time and in your life. Right after a breakup, it can be tempting to distract yourself with too many commitments by drowning in work or outings. An overloaded schedule is an overwhelmed and neglected heart. However, we can often wobble between wanting to do everything to wanting to do nothing at all. If you’re experiencing the latter, what’s crowding and cluttering your heart might be emotions you can’t seem to process and overthinking the breakup. In both cases, we can help you create space in your schedule and life so that it can be filled by the right person or thing at the right time.

Here are some tips on how to declutter your heart:

Set Boundaries

Boundaries involve being firm about doing more of what makes your life better and less of makes your life worse. Boundaries take self-discipline. Examples of good boundaries include no contact with your ex, making sure you set aside a half hour every day for your hobby or Mend monument, and sleeping for 6-9 hours. Sometimes heartbreak makes you want to sleep for 12 hours, which is fine once or twice but making it a habit will make you feel lousy. Also, instead of overloading your schedule with work or social outings, say no sometimes. This creates space in your life by opening up your schedule.

On the contrast, if your heart is cluttered by spending too much time alone and constantly replaying the breakup over and over again, make sure you get out and socialize sometimes and find a hobby that channels your energy. This creates space by clearing out rumination and negative thought processes. The important thing is to have some alone time, but not too much alone time, and setting boundaries will help you find the right balance!

Solitude

Once you’ve set boundaries, you’ve created intentional space in your life and heart. This space doesn’t need to be filled. Allow it to exist without clutter (distractions). To embrace emotional minimalism, be intentional about this alone time and let this space be whatever it needs to be. It will be filled with the right thing at the right time. At first, that might mean doing nothing, staring into space, taking a walk, doing your daily Mend training, reading, or taking a nap. It might be a different thing every day. You’ll know what you need to do when the time comes, but don’t think you need to do anything. This is your time to just simply be alone. Get in touch with you. Check in with yourself. Alone time is very important for mending. Creating this space allows it to be filled with the right person at the right time.

Silence

Many people listen to music or podcasts on the way to work, or during work, on the way home from work, and then watch television. Students walk around campus with their headphones on, then go to the gym with their headphones on, do homework with headphones on, and then come home and watch YouTube videos with their headphones on. We’re very in touch with the outside world, but not very in touch with ourselves. So many of us feel the need to fill silence from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed because it has been ingrained in our society that it’s a waste of time or it is “awkward.”

When going through a breakup, it is important to check in with yourself, and that’s hard to do when you don’t have any time for silence. Declutter your mind by minimizing the distractions. It can definitely be uncomfortable at first. Start by walking to class without your headphones, turning off the radio on the way to work, or noticing the moments you already spend in silence, like maybe your morning routine. Silence always has a way of revealing what’s on our hearts. By learning to sit with silence occasionally during the day, it will be less daunting when all those thoughts you’ve been ignoring come flooding in when you try to go to sleep. Silence will also train you to choose which thoughts are welcome and which thoughts you need to send away because they will only cause you pain

When you create a balance between silence and solitude vs. work and socializing, you will find that you feel more in touch with yourself and that you’re better able to control your thoughts and how you spend your time. Emotional minimalism will definitely teach you to be more intentional about creating space to allow your heart to breathe and mend.

Why You Should Go On A Date Even If You’re Not Excited About It

Dating after getting your heart broken could feel a lot like diving into swim hole—filled with so much unknown. It might sound exciting at first but once it’s staring you in the face, you want to run in the other direction. 

Even months after your breakup, dating can still feel more like something you have to do and less like something you want to do. That’s because you’re most likely processing dates as something that will live long into the future instead of taking them for what they are: a few hours of getting to know someone.

It’s not easy to change your mentality towards dating. I’ve been there before, spending more time making up excuses for why I need to cancel than thinking about interesting topics to bring up in conversation. But over time I’ve learned that it’s good to go on dates, even when I’m not excited about them.

First off, dates are a lot like interviews, so if nothing else, you’re at least polishing up your professional skills. You’ll be grateful for those few awkward minutes of silence during dates when they’ve taught you how to keep the dialogue flowing throughout your next job interview.

Which brings me to the next good outcome of going on dates: you usually learn something new. Everyone has a different journey, passion, and perspective, and on a date, you get to know a little about all of that stuff. That date you were on the brink of canceling, might introduce you to what will go on to become your future passion project. You never know!

And even though your heart might not be in it, going on a date is a great distraction. For a few hours, you get enthralled in an experience with someone else. This time away from pining over your ex will slowly start opening you up to new people, experiences, and eventually love.

Three Questions You Should Ask Yourself After A Breakup

I first met Trey* on a date for tea. He had his sleeves rolled-up revealing an unfinished sleeve tattoo of two Simpsons characters and an outer-space galaxy. The tattoo would come to signify much of our relationship. With Trey I was navigating a world equal parts cartoon-land and cosmos—always incomplete, yet indelible to the mark it left on me.

On our second date, to Bear Mountain, Trey pointed out the late-blooming witch hazel and led us down wooded paths off the marked trails. Afterward, we sat in the lobby at the base of the mountain, talking for hours by the fire. I didn’t hear from him for five days. I assumed things were over. But the third date came, by hand-written invitation left on my car windshield. Date three was a homemade pasta dinner, midnight cemetery trek, and a drive to the cliffs across the river. In the end, he handed me a custom-made CD of the songs we sang in the car.

Like a mischievous Peter Pan with a glint in his eye, Trey was unlike anyone I’d ever met, let alone dated. Content to be his Wendy, I grew used to him flying away, only to return again through an open window. When he felt like talking, we talked; when he was sullen and withdrawn, I lay low. After a dry spell would pass he’d send a postcard with hand-drawn hearts.

One morning he handed me binoculars and pointed to the bright orange oriole on a limb; the next he’d loudly swear when I poured too much milk in his coffee. At one wedding he twirled me around the dance floor till I collapsed laughing and breathless; the next one he’d sit out, arms crossed, identifying the best-looking guests. One day he’d plan future trips and asked if I’d thought about moving in together; mere weeks later he’d say, “I don’t feel that way now.”

After our second date, I told a friend, “Whatever happens next, mark this: there will be a ‘Before Trey’ and an ‘After Trey.’”

How right I was—but not in the way I’d imagined. Before Trey, I never thought I’d take someone back who broke my heart not once but twice. Before Trey, I never believed I’d bend and twist myself for a man who seemed impossible to please. Before Trey, I never fathomed the full-body sobs I could choke out for a guy who left me completely gutted.

But, before Trey, I never knew how sweet the interior moments of dating could be—chopping vegetables from the farmers market, jumping in the living room to a song he insisted I hear, strumming new chord rhythms on guitar, reading aloud about foxes, coyotes, and desert suns. That wide grin and variable voice, his long lean tree of a body, that shock of coarse gray-brown hair like a sharp flower atop a cactus: the whole sum of him slayed me. I never knew how fully I could love someone—to the point where forgiveness barely required effort.

Before Trey, I never imagined the way a man could awaken my sense of adventure-animating the woods and rivers with an almost holy regard. With eyes that took in a wider angle than mine, he pointed out a row of mountains on our hike and said, “See that skyline? There’s something vital in the unaltered horizon that the human eyeball needs to see.”

I envied the shapes and patterns he saw, the birdsongs he knew by heart. “How do you do that?” I said, “Notice in a moment those details of a hawk in flight?” A field naturalist by trade, Trey replied, “I’m a noticer.”

I lived for the moments he noticed me. On rare occasions he’d beam across the table, “I can hardly pay attention to what you’re saying, your eyes are so bright.” But more often he regarded me with scientific scrutiny, some invisible assessment behind his brow taking stock of all the ways I fell short.

I tried to play it cool, but sometimes I cracked. Our conversations during a downswing left me confused, questioning, crying. “I don’t like who I become when the ground’s always shifting under my feet,” I said. My morning prayers found me digging for deeper bedrock, repeating to God, “You are love. I can’t lose love. Love is the truth of who I am.”

After one of our breakups I told my late spiritual director, a 93-year-old nun, “Sister Miriam, everything hurts: my brain, my body, my heart—my whole being!” She paused, then said, “That’s because you loved with your whole being.”

The weekend before Valentine’s Day, Trey broke up with me for the third and final time. For the second February in a row, I found myself at Whole Foods Customer Service, returning the same $8 Valentine I’d bought him the year before. It featured a cut-out paper tent with a couples’ feet sticking out, and said, “With you I’m a happy camper.”

Trey and I had camped together in the Adirondacks and the weekend of the breakup he mentioned my discomfort when our tent got wet, my new shoes in the mud, the way my legs couldn’t ford the streams as fast as his. “You’re not always steady on the rocks,” he said, his stature a foot taller than mine.

My legs are nimbler now, running and hiking and reclaiming life without him. I’m slowly crossing over to a clearer view. But clarity doesn’t come easy. I discover later that while we were still together Trey fell for a woman at work. The one he’d insisted was just a friend. The news hits me like a meteor.

The 3 Questions
Desperate for a distraction, I began watching “Jane the Virgin” again, a series Trey and I started together. In one scene Jane wonders whether Rafael—her love interest—is “the one” and goes to her mother and grandmother for advice. The latter, Jane’s Abuela, pulls out an old article from a women’s magazine. “This is the test,” she says, “that made me marry your grandfather.” The first question: “Does he give you an allowance?” The second: “Does he eat  what you cook for him?” Before she gets to the third, Jane and her mother erupt in laughter,  dismissing the antiquated advice.

Abuela shakes her head and says, “No, let me translate. ‘Does he give you an allowance?’ means, ‘Is he generous?’ ‘Does he eat what you cook for him?’ means, ‘Is he kind?’ and this last one needs no translation: ‘Does he know the real you, down to your core?’”

I pause the scene, pondering the unfinished picture of Trey and all that we didn’t know of each other. My heart softens when I recall a relationship of mine long past. Though unsure from the beginning, I married that man—and for four years was never quite pleased, never fully myself, only minimally giving and kind.

When you know better, they say, you do better. So I wonder: what if each of us is just doing the best we can, with what we know and who we are, in any given situation? I know Trey tried. And so did I. It takes courage to leave a relationship that doesn’t feel right.

Maybe next time I’ll love smarter. Maybe next time it will be more mutual. And maybe the only way to make peace with pain—my own and others’—is surviving a rocket-crash to the heart. Amid the rubble I’m discovering that kindness, generosity, interest, and care are there for me to find, and there for me to give.

On a recent day in a different state, I went out with a man who told me I am brave. We lay on our backs on the pebbled sidewalk near a water fountain and prayer labyrinth. I can only make out a few stars behind the clouds, but send up a wish and a prayer of thanks—that I don’t have to be brave alone.

*Name has been changed.

Science Of Heartbreak

Why You Should Take Probiotics When You’re Heartbroken

What do probiotics have to do with a broken heart? Actually, a lot! We already know that probiotics support our immune and digestive health, but did you know that they can improve your mental health as well?

Probiotics are live bacteria and active yeast that can be found in our bodies as well as our food. People in developed countries don’t have as diverse gut bacteria, or microbiome, as we should. We have an obsession with cleanliness and often times consume antibiotics in our milk, meat, and even organic vegetables, which can absorb antibiotics if the soil is treated with manure from cows that were given antibiotics. The good bacteria help our immune system to decide what is good and what is bad for us. The more we kill the good bacteria in our bodies, the more susceptible we are to all sorts of health conditions, including depression and anxiety.

Thankfully, there are some really awesome probiotic supplements we can take, like Seed Daily Synbiotics, and food we can eat to improve our gut health. Some sources of probiotics include yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, sourdough, and sauerkraut.

Probiotics decrease negative thoughts and feelings.

The gut and the brain communicate with each other. The brain sends hormones and enzymes down to the gut to help with digestion and the probiotics in there thank it by producing neurotransmitters and sending them upwards to aid in mental health. When multistrain probiotics were taken every day for four weeks, researchers found less tendency for rumination, which heartbroken people are prone to. They make the parts of our brain that process negative emotions less active. Probiotics are being used to help people with depression and anxiety, but they are even more beneficial for people without a clinically diagnosed mood disorder.

Probiotics change our behavior!

So now we know that the gut and the brain communicate, and it would naturally make sense that as our mental health improves, our behaviors change. It’s been proven that probiotics change the behavior of mice. When researchers gave fearless mice the microbiome of more anxious mice, they became more timid, and vice versa. Researchers even found that healthy people and depressed people have different strains of bacteria in their guts.

While consuming tiny micro-organisms might not seem super appetizing, just know that if you stick with a daily intake of probiotics for at least a few weeks, your mending heart will thank you for the tiny bit of relief. You will ruminate less, be more active, and see an improvement in mood and behavior. Just make sure you’re getting various strains of bacteria, as the key to a healthy and happy gut is a diverse microbiome.

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.

5 Ways My Breakup Abroad Changed My Life For The Better

Six years ago, I moved to Germany for a guy who I thought, at the time, was the one.

I gave up my family, my job, and my cozy life in Canada and completely changed everything by moving across the world to an unknown land where I knew I would be an outsider. I am always someone who does crazy things for love, and this was on the furthest side of my craziness.

Fast forward a few years and everything was kind-of perfect. I finally stopped feeling like an outsider. I managed to land my dream job as a global event planner, where I got to travel the world for work. I made a home in a beautiful flat with him. I lived in a gorgeous European city, became part of his family, spoke German and even made some amazing expat girlfriends. I felt so lucky to have my loving German ‘prince’ and the life we created together.

But, around this time last year, over a meal together, the ground was ripped from under me.

As he took a bite into his evening German-style bread, he looked up at me with guilty eyes and said, “I just don’t know if I love you anymore”.

The following morning, devastated, I caught the next flight home to Canada. On his credit card.

While I was in Canada surrounded by the comfort of my family, I felt lost. I looked in the mirror to see a girl with sad eyes, full of anxiety. I wondered what the ‘eff’ I should do with my life. 

All of a sudden, I had to choose if I wanted to be alone in a country I never wanted to be alone in. I felt thrown away, like the trash. I knew the challenges that would come with setting myself up in Germany without him or his family.

I didn’t hear much from him again and later I found out that within weeks of our breakup he had a new girlfriend. Three months later, he even moved her into the flat we shared.

Suddenly, everything that was normal to me had changed. The person who I thought was my biggest supporter decided to exit my life without warning and, with him, took the life I thought I loved.

But I did come back to Germany, with vengeance. And the was the best decision I’ve ever made.

And then my life started to change for the better, and the void of the relationship slowly diminished. 

Here are the 5 things that happened:

I became more independent than I ever have been in my life.

I had never lived alone. I went from living with my Mom in Canada to moving across the world and living with him. I always had someone taking care of me. 

When I got the keys to my temporary get-away flat in Germany, it was a rock-bottom feeling knowing I was now alone in a country that didn’t feel like home without him…but I knew it could only go up from there. 

After deciding to stay in Germany indefinitely I managed to find my own beautiful flat in an even-better neighbourhood and I even landed a promotion at work. Now I feel 100% independent and can afford my life without a second income to support it. 

Most importantly, I was able to find a home within myself. My support system became my best friends here, and I never feel alone. My soul feels on fire from new things in my life. Everything completely turned around after being flipped upside down. I walk the streets confidently like a local. If someone asks me why I am here, I tell them ‘Well I came for a man, but now I’m here for me.’

I realized I wasn’t loving myself enough.

I always thought I loved myself, but I look back and I didn’t. Before I thought loving myself was cooking healthy, and going to the gym 3 times a week. Spending time ‘relaxing’ watching endless Netflix and scrolling on my phone (with my ex by my side). I was comfortable with myself but that didn’t provide me with space to grow. 

However, this break up and living alone in Germany pushed me to realize how much I needed to love myself more. I realized I was living an uninspired life of a schedule that lacked creativity or passion. I became a person who took on too many traits of my partner, which were never me. 

I took the void from the relationship I felt and filled it with my passions that I always had too much anxiety to explore in Germany. For example, I finally attended the dance class I was always too nervous to go too (because of German language). I even got a membership at a yoga studio and started other hobbies. 

I took time to improve friendships and made some friends into better ones. I read empowering books, invested in therapy, and took care of my body inside and out, all while also focusing on my career. 

I did my best to keep my heart open. I felt empowered by my choice to overcome this challenge of living abroad, not for anyone, but myself. This gave me new confidence, that I could do anything that I want abroad and on my own. I became my biggest supporter and made myself my number one priority.

I learned how much communication matters in relationships and friendships.

If I had seen the signs before and taken off my rose-coloured glasses in the relationship, things would have been different. 

There were many times in the relationship when I saw red flags. However, with the fear of leaving him and being alone, I just ignored them. I was too afraid to have difficult conversations, but maybe if I had, I would have realized his intentions weren’t as pure as I thought. 

Now with the fear of wasting my time with relationships or friendships, I am not afraid of communicating my wants and desires. If I see we are not aligned, I know that I could be wasting my time. 

I now invest so much of my time into reading books and listening to podcasts about relationships and effective communication. This is something that I never thought I should take the time to do before because I thought everything was, just, fine – when it wasn’t.

I found my passion for empowering international women abroad.

Surprisingly a lot of women I meet in Germany have moved here for love. I am not saying it is a bad thing, but if I had not built the life I had before the breakup, I would have been in a much more devastating position. 

Fortunately, I only ‘lost’ him and his circle, but still had my career and my friends here. Some women only have their partner abroad and do not take the time to invest in their career or a social life apart from their partner. 

I wanted to inspire other women to live their best lives abroad, so I started a meet-up group on Facebook for international women who are ambitious in creating their best lives abroad in Germany. Now this group has 200 members and we’ve had five meetups where we share stories of our victories, paint-points and discoveries.

I found new best friends and connected with others through our shared experiences.

I joined an online community (Mend) of other people going through hard breakups and these people became a huge support system. I found that many people had the same thing happen to them and that, in fact, I wasn’t alone in my journey alone in a foreign country. 

I connected with them on a different level than any of my other friends, and through our shared experience we were able to overcome our transition periods together. We all realized that the break ups abroad enriched our lives, that change was for the better, and we wouldn’t exchange our friendships for anything else.

With all of this wisdom gained, the void from the relationship and my loneliness eventually diminished and is now filled with an authentic life that I never thought I was brave enough to achieve in a country that isn’t home, by myself.

And now, a year later, which feels like a milestone; I look at everything I’ve built and achieved, and I know the break up was for the best.

Sometimes things need to leave your life to make space for better things.

I am still healing every day from the trauma, but I know that one part of healing is sharing your story. I hope that if you are going through a similar break up after moving somewhere for love, that you know this doesn’t mean your only option is to go home. Perhaps you going there for your relationship was only the start of something bigger. ⁣

After all, ‘It’s not how you fall, it’s how you land.’

8 Subtle Signs That Your Partner Is Not Right For You

Sometimes a breakup can be a good thing. That’s especially true if we’re in a relationship that isn’t quite right for us. But it isn’t always easy to spot the subtle signs which might suggest that our partners aren’t quite right for us. 

To help you get some clarity on this, here are ten common signs that your partner may not be right for you:

1. They negatively affect your confidence

If you realize that your confidence is being affected by the little comments that your partner makes and the little things that they do, it’s a reliable warning sign that they aren’t treating you the way they should (which should boost your confidence) and you’re at risk of losing your confidence over time.

2. They don’t value what you have to say

The sign of a good conversation is when both people in a relationship are actively listening to each other as opposed to just waiting to speak or talking over each other. If your partner regularly interrupts you when you’re talking, it shows that they’re not really listening and don’t value what you have to say.

3. They don’t respect your job

If your partner doesn’t care about your job, and if they avoid talking about it or keep on changing the subject, it may be a sign that they don’t really care about you as much as you might have thought. A person who cares about you will take an interest in your interests, including what you do for a living, what you study or what you enjoy doing as hobbies.

4. They don’t support you when you evolve

Building from the last point, personal improvement (including career and job advancement) is an important part of your evolution and your partner should support you in this by listening, providing advice and being a sounding board for your ideas and dreams. 

5. They lie

This one almost goes without saying. If your partner lies to you, even about something that seems relatively benign, it can be a sign that they aren’t the right partner for you. A true partnership is one built on mutual trust and respect, which means they are honest with you.

6. Your life goals differ

Sometimes, it’s not a case of your partner doing something wrong. Instead, the two of you can end up taking different paths in life and simply drifting apart. It’s important to recognize if there’s enough common ground to have a healthy relationship, or if you would be better off with someone who is more compatible.

7. One of you is unhappy

When you love someone, you sometimes need to let them go. This is true if you’re in a relationship and one or two of you is unhappy in the lives that you’re leading. When you’re in a healthy relationship, you’re happy most of the time with the relationship. If you find that you’re mostly unhappy with the person you’re in a relationship with, pay attention to your feelings and try to uncover why. 

8. You can feel it

Sometimes the most obvious sign that your partner isn’t right for you is that you feel it as something instinctive inside of you. If that’s the case, it can be a good idea to discuss it with them to see what they feel. Don’t dismiss the importance of intuition.

Do any of the subtle signs that we’ve talked about today sound familiar to you? If so, it may be a sign that you need to have a talk. Just make sure that you give your partner the chance to understand and to explain their side of things. It’s not always easy to end relationships that aren’t quite right, but sometimes it’s the only way to open yourself up to something greater.

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.

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!

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!

Sometimes You Need to Let Things Go

I think life happens in seasons.

Some seasons are for work. Some for adventure. Some for friendship. Some for love.

And some for letting go.

As with most seasons, the transition from one to another isn’t always necessarily apparent. But, there’s always that one day—the first hot day after a long winter; the first crisp fall morning after a hot summer; the first snow of the year; the first fully blossomed tree in the spring…there’s always a day when you can just feel the certain, subtle end of one season and beginning of another.

At least on a personal level, this feels like the start of the season of letting go.

It’s very possible to have limitless amounts of love and passion—but time and energy will always be finite resources. Naturally, if we are holding on to things we love and/or feel passionate about but must let go of, we are expending our limited time and energy on the inevitable dissipation of something.

So, there’s a choice, then…

Resist the inevitable, or let go with love.

Feel sharp pain now, or deeper pain later.

Which will you choose?

Letting go is an act of faith. Faith that you can strip away the net of comfort and still be caught when you fall. Faith in the things you can’t prove. Faith that your gut is leading you in the right direction. Faith that if you love something or someone, sometimes the best thing you can do is let it go.

If you’re thinking about letting go of someone or something, that probably means you need to. You must trust your gut about things like this.

No matter how much it hurts, how wrong it feels in your head or heart, or how much easier it is to choose the route of immediate pleasure over long-term values…you’ll know when it’s time to let go.

And when you finally make that decision, please know you’re not alone.

You’re not the first person on the planet who’s found a great love and lost it. Or found a dream job and got let go. Or started a company and had it fail.

There have been plenty others before you, and plenty more will come.

This is the thing about letting go—while almost always bittersweet and seemingly impossible, once you let go of the people and things that no longer belong in your life–either by choice or force—you create a whole lot of amazing space for exactly the right things to emerge in your life.

It’s kind of like throwing a party at a club—when you know Beyonce is coming and you try to fill the club with random people and bells and whistles so it would look full when she came. And then you know what happens? She shows up, takes one look, and turns around saying, “Nope, too crowded.”

If you want something magnificent, stop letting mediocre things take up your limited space and energy. If you want to find a great job, do indispensable work and find a team who fully love the work you do. If you want to find a great love, stop letting unavailable people take a piece of your heart. If you want to save to move to a new city, stop dropping $200 a weekend on drinks at bars.

Make decisions that align with who you are as a person, and how you deeply desire to spend your limited time and energy during your life.

This is the season of getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve me, fill me with love and joy, or feel—on a cellular level—like the ultimate right thing to do.

This is the season of letting go.

And all I can do while I’m in it is understand that letting go wouldn’t be necessary if I wasn’t clearing a space for bigger, more love-filled, more available opportunities to assume that space instead.

So, what will you let go of?

Get closure on making the incomplete, complete.

And then?

Just wait and see—magic happens when you let it.

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!

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.

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.

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!

10 Reasons To Be Happy You’re Single This Holiday Season

Got the holiday blues? It can be very stressful to be single sometimes, especially if you are surrounded by friends and family who aren’t single – and unintentionally rub it in everyone else’s face how in love they are. The holiday are especially stressful during this time in your life, because many feel that you have to be with those you love during the holidays, and you may feel like nobody is there to love you.

Here are 10 reasons to put on a happy face and be relieved you are single this holiday season.

1. You Aren’t Alone

Even if you aren’t seeing anyone, chances are you still have friends and family, and they won’t desert you this holiday season.
If you can’t stand being around those in your life that are so happy they don’t see outside of their own relationship, don’t fear, there is still hope.

Studies show that the holiday season is one of the biggest times of year for breakups, closely rivaled by spring break. Odds are there will be someone in your circle that would be willing to spend time with you and won’t be permanently attached to their significant other during that time.

2. You Will Save Money

Chances are, you want to spend a lot of money on your significant other during the holidays, to show how much you really care. One advantage to being single is that you don’t have to. Also, think of the lack of travel you will have to do to go visit their family and friends. That has got to save some money.

3. You Can Spend More Time With Family

Holidays can be stressful for couples trying to juggle time for both families and both sets of friends. Now you can devote all of your time to your own people, and stress out less about matching all of the schedules.

4. No More Seriously Embarrassing Questions From Family

With no significant other in the picture, your parents can pick on someone else in the family and ask them about when they plan to marry and have kids. You no longer have to deal with the stress and embarrassment of answering them.

5. No “Babysitting” at Parties

You can go hang out with your own family, friends or coworkers without worrying about someone else feeling left out or ignored.

6. You Can Have Fun Meeting New People

Holiday parties are a great time to meet new people. Without your other half tagging along, you don’t have to worry about accidentally flirting with someone else, and you can have more time to talk to other people than you would if you were too busy being lost in someone else’s eyes all evening.

7. You Can Vacation by Yourself

Want to take that holiday vacation you’ve been dreaming about? No problem! No need to coordinate with a significant other on where to go and what to do when you get there. You may even meet a great new friend on vacation.

8. You May Not Put On As Much Weight

People in relationships tend to stuff their faces more – why not? They already have someone, they don’t need to impress anyone else.

9. You Have Time to Help Those In Need

With less time juggling multiple families and groups of friends, you can make yourself feel better making someone else’s holiday special.

10. You Can Spoil Yourself

With all that money you save up in point #1, you can now spend money on yourself guilt-free. Go on, buy yourself a present this year!

What To Do When Your Friends Get Engaged During The Holidays

If you’re newly single, it can be emotionally brutal when the holiday engagement season gets going. You’re happy for your newly engaged friends, of course, but their news can also sting a little if you’re mourning a relationship.

So how do you deal with this?

First, know that it’s completely natural. Try not to be hard on yourself for experiencing these emotions. The holidays can be a very sensitive time when it comes to relationships, especially if you were planning on being with your ex and that hasn’t panned out. Also, if you’re feeling jealous or left behind, remind yourself that you’re just human. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend. 

One of the best ways to move through jealousy and envy is to see your friend’s happiness as a sign of what’s yet to come for you. Just like graduating college or buying your first home, friends getting engaged is a natural part of life. It happens at different times for different people. So try and look at the engagement news in a less personal way. 

Instead, look at it as a stepping stone of life. Your friend is making that step, and it’s wonderful for them. It isn’t a reflection of what you don’t have, it just means that it’s still something you can look forward to. Allow your friends to have their moment and just know that when you get engaged, it will feel so good to have that reciprocated.

If it’s social media engagement posts that are triggering you, use the holidays to step away and try a digital detox. Instead of scrolling through photos, bring the focus right back to yourself. Make plans to hang out with other single friends. Go holiday shopping. Volunteer. Update your dating profile. Begin a new project. Ultimately, when you feel good about where you’re heading, the celebratory news of others won’t be as upsetting. We know you’ll get there!

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 2018. Who knows what is coming around the corner. That’s the most exciting part.

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!

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 2014. (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.

Mend’s 2019 Year In Review

Before we enter this new decade, we took a moment to reflect on the year at Mend. Here’s a look at 2019:

We reached new countries this year! We’re now in 224 recognized countries and territories (up from 195 in 2018).

Among these Menders, 290 languages are spoken (up from 81 in 2018). Our top three languages spoken by Menders were: English, German and French.

For the second year in a row, London, LA and Chicago were our top 3 cities respectively. We made a splash in Australia, with two of our new top 10 cities being Sydney and Melbourne. Washington DC was the only new US city in the top 10 (maybe not surprising given all the political heartbreak this year, wink wink.)

If you were wondering what other Menders were up to, the top training themes selected in 2019 were: Letting Go, Being Single and Heartbreak. So if you found yourself struggling with letting go this year, know that you were not alone (it was also the top theme last year as well).

Menders did a great job of taking care of themselves this year and the top self care activities logged were: going outside, being social and hydrating. These three are the perfect recipe to lift your mood if you’re feeling lonely during the holidays.

Sundays maintained their spot as the most active Mending day, and the top breakup reasons were the same we saw in 2018: I Don’t Know, Commitment and Incompatible Lifestyle. ICYMI, we had two new breakup reasons launch this year: Emotional Unavailability and Communication.

And just for fun – in case you were wondering, the most googled breakup in 2019 in the US was Miley and Liam, followed by Lili and Cole, which just proves that stars really are just like us.

2019 was also a year of growth at Mend in terms of how we’re supporting people. We launched Mend in Spanish, Mend Classes, our new Mend Community and Mend Away. Our focus this year was growing sustainably in a way that is healthy for both our users and our business.

We feel so grateful for you as we close this decade. Thanks for being our inspiration. Thank you for being open-hearted. Thank you for sharing with us.

We’re wishing you peace as this year closes and we begin a new one. Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

10 Ways To Comfort A Heartbroken Friend This Holiday Season

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to help someone who’s heartbroken, but know that being there for a friend is priceless. Here are 10 ways you can offer a friend comfort if they’re going through a breakup:

1) Be There To Listen

Just being there to listen to your friend will help so much more than trying to offer a solution or fix what they’re feeling. Be there when they want to cry, let them talk about their ex and offer them an open space to share how they’re feeling. Having someone to vocalize their feelings to without judgment is incredibly healing.

2) Send Them A Heartfelt Message Every Morning

Morning can be one of the loneliest and saddest times of the day when heartbroken, especially if your friend was used to texting a lot with their ex. Give your friend a boost by sending them a text telling them why you love them and why they’re an amazing person. Words of encouragement go a long way.

3) Plan A Holiday Movie Night In

There’s nothing better than closing the curtains, lighting candles, putting on comfy pajamas, diving into a box of chocolates, and watching funny holiday movies. Make an extra effort to make low-key plans with your friend during the holidays because it can be a stressful time for the newly single.

4) Try Something New Together

Take a dance class, plan a trip, or go to an event. Creating a new memory together not only takes your friend’s mind off their breakup, but it’s also a bonding experience and boosts your endorphins.

5) Prepare A Self-Care Gift Package

Put a package together filled with your friend’s favorite things. Choose beauty or wellness products, healthy snacks, a hand-written note, a journal, calming teas – anything that will give your friend a feel-good boost and remind her to take care of herself.

6) Be The Voice Of Reason

If you’ve been through a breakup yourself, you’ll know that it’s easy to make decisions (like texting your ex!) in the heat of the moment. Be a sounding board and offer moral support if your friend has moments of weakness. It’s not about trying to control their actions, but more about being a comforting voice of reason when they’re vulnerable.

7) Make Them A Playlist

Fill a Spotify playlist with songs that will jog happy memories of your friendship and share it with them before any long commutes or trips home.

8) Set New Year Intentions Together

Go to brunch and share your intentions for 2018. This will give your friend something positive to focus on and you can keep each other accountable!

9) Make Plans For NYE

The idea of spending New Year alone after a breakup can feel awful. Plan something for both of you to look forward to. Perhaps get your other friends involved too. Whether it’s low key or swanky, spending New Year with your friend is a great way to remind them that being single doesn’t mean you have to be completely alone.

10) Go Play In Nature

Exercise and fresh air are amazing for clearing your mind. Spend the day bundled up, grab a hot chocolate and go for a long walk in nature. Jump around and take photos. This can be so much fun and a great relief from the pain of heartbreak.

We hope these provide inspiration and just remember that everyone finds comfort and healing in various ways. Don’t feel pressured to do or say the ‘right’ thing. Think about what you needed when you were going through heartbreak, and ask your friend how to be there for them. Ultimately, if your friend knows you care, that’s what matters most.

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 2020. Start becoming more friendly, open and available now. 

Watch the momentum you build and see 2020 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 2020, without a single New Year’s resolution needed.

Love Is Like A Plant Episode: How To Make It Through The Holidays!

It’s perfectly normal to feel alone during the holidays. It should be a time of love and happiness but it can also be the time when you miss your ex the most.

This episode of LILAP is for anyone who is feeling a little lonely during the holidays this year. Elle and Sarah May talk about what to do if you’re solo this year, and how to thrive during the holiday season. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from us to you! <3

The Mend 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: Less Is More

Our spirit for this year’s gift guide is all about “less is more.” What if we spent less time shopping this season? What if we focused on just a few, higher quality items instead of a pile of presents? What if our gifts had a positive impact on the planet?

Instead of a long list of things to buy, for our guide this year we’ve carefully chosen 4 items that we love whole heartedly and recommend to elevate your daily life. There are absolutely no ads here.

Maudesolokit

The Solo Kit 

We could all use a bit more pleasure in our lives, and female-founded Maude makes high quality, beautiful accessories to help us get there even when we’re flying solo. 

Kinfolkcover

Kinfolk Subscription

Reading will never go out of style, and Kinfolk is a solid gift subscription for anyone who appreciates design, slow living and beautiful storytelling. You can choose from their quarterly print subscription or digital subscription.

Dopperbottle

Dopper Bottle

A gift for your friend can also be a gift for the planet. There are a million different water bottles on the market now, but we especially like this one because the cap turns into a goblet. It’s also machine washable which means you may be more likely to use it. 

Nothingfancy

Nothing Fancy

It’s hard to compete with food delivery apps, but there’s nothing more luxurious, sustainable and healthy than preparing your own food at home more often. Enter NYT columnist and author Alison Roman. Her first cookbook, Dining In, is a favorite of ours and her latest book, Nothing Fancy, continues the theme of delicious recipes you can actually pull off. If you need inspiration, just watch her Instagram videos that she shoots in her own kitchen.

We hope our paired down gift guide inspires you to shop smaller and smarter this year, for yourself and others – happy holidays.

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.

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 2018.

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!

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 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.

21 Breakup Movies You Have to Watch

A breakup is a perfect excuse to stay in your pajamas and watch some distracting movies. Here are 21 movies we recommend watching after a breakup:

1. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Peter (Jason Segel) finds himself in the torturous circumstance of staying at the same resort as the ex (played hilariously by Kristen Bell) he hasn’t gotten over yet on his trip to Hawaii. Truly one of the great breakup films.

2. The Holiday – If you’ve ever dreamed of completely stepping out of your own life and into someone else’s for a while, you’ll have fun watching two women (Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet) leave behind their relationship problems to do exactly that. Also, Jude Law as a sensitive, glasses-wearing widow with two adorable British girls. All together now: Awwwwwww.

3. He’s Just Not That Into You – Based on the popular book that was a revelation to many women, the adaptation explores the funny ways communicating in and understanding relationships is hard, as several couples and singles try to process what love is really all about.

4. Hall Pass – Two husbands are given free range by their wives to do anything they like for one week, and they’re able to revisit their marriages in a new light. Interesting…

5. The Heartbreak Kid – When a movie’s tagline is “Love Blows,” you know what to expect: a few laughs about the love disasters we all wish we’d been able to avoid.

6. The Breakup – The hilarious worst case scenario breakup of a Chicago couple, played well by Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. While you’re at it, watch Swingers again, another classic breakup movie with Vaughn.

7. Inside Out – A super sweet reminder that emotions are very real and important, and that there’s nothing wrong with being sad.

8. Down with Love – If you’ve ever found yourself attracted to someone that you think you definitely should not be attracted to, this one’s for you.

9. 500 Days of Summer – A sweet romcom about some of the grittier realities of losing love. There’s no happy ending here, but somehow it’s just right.

10. Serious Moonlight – A little bit of dark comedy ensues when a husband and wife (Meg Ryan), in the midst of trying to hash out the truth of their relationship, are confronted with an unwelcome guest.

11. Jerry Maguire – Classic and lovely, a reminder of why love and the things we value most are worth staying in the good fight.

12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – We’ve all wished we could erase a lost love from our minds. This film explores what happens when a couple tries to do it.

13. War of the Roses – When both parties in a divorcing couple try to drive the other out of the house, a sad mockery of love ensues.

14. Dirty Dancing – We had to. Forbidden love, dance routines, and 80s hair – it’s perfect.

15. My Best Friend’s Wedding – What happens when Julia Roberts is asked to be the best woman of her best friend’s wedding and realizes she’s in love with him? A great movie, that’s what.

16. Down To You – This Y2K rom com catalogs the rocky trajectory of a romance between Freddie Prinze and Julia Stiles, who fall in love at first sight in college and then find themselves going apart and coming back together over the years.

17. High Fidelity – When record shop owner Rob Gordon discovers his girlfriend is with another guy (remember Tim Robbin’s character?), he begins a quest to reconnect with five of his exes to figure out why all of his relationships end. A total classic for anyone feeling burned by a relationship.

18. Comet – What happens when you don’t tell someone you love that you love them and you lose them forever? In Comet, we chronologically jump back and forth from major turning points in Justin Long and Emmy Rossum’s six-year relationship and find out.

19. Frida – Salma Hayek vibrantly portrays Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The film highlights the incredible joys and deep pains she endures throughout her passionate relationship with womanizer Diego Rivera.

20. Take this Waltz – Michelle Williams plays a married woman who grows less interested in her marriage over time…a worthy watch for anyone who is married or in a long-term relationship.

21. Last Love – If you’re up for a film sweeter than butterscotch and sad enough to grab a tissue (Michael Caine as a grieving widower – I mean, come on!), then Last Love has you covered.

5 Tips for Attending Holiday Parties Alone

The holiday season is taking over. Lights are being strung and holiday playlists are blasting through headphones all around us. And while the holiday season is full of cheer, no one feels merry when you’re going through heartbreak. When the holiday party invitations start filing in, suddenly not only are you not jolly, but you’re also in a panic.

If you recently got out of a long-term relationship, it’s probably been a while since you attended a party alone. Holiday parties, in particular, have a way of shoving relationships in your face, which makes it twice as difficult to get through them. However, it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. We want you to enjoy every holiday party, whether you’re single, heartbroken, or both.

The tips below will make each party enjoyable and completely change your perspective on attending parties while single.

Take A Friend

If you don’t have a romantic date, you can always have a friend tag along as your plus one. Your friend will serve as a buffer for you while you get used to going to parties without your usual plus one. It’ll be even more beneficial if you take the social butterfly of your inner circle. They’ll do the heavy lifting if you tend to be more of an introvert.

Do Some Planning

Holiday parties are a lot like networking events. You’d never go to a networking event without having in mind who will be at the party and what you could talk about. Take a little bit of the load off your shoulders by preparing a few conversation starters before the party. You’ll be able to spark an interesting dialogue that will keep guests talking.

Get Involved

An easy way to fill the time at a party is to get involved. Whether it’s taking on a task ahead of time or volunteering the night of, having some responsibilities throughout the party will keep you busy and will serve as a talking point. Who doesn’t go up to the person serving chips and dip?

Look for Other Singles

The chances are slim that you’ll be the only person at the party alone. Keep an eye out for other guests that are also solo and engage them in conversation. They are probably just as eager as you are to find someone to talk to throughout the night. Singles stick together.

Lean on The Host

It’s the host’s responsibility to make everyone feel comfortable and welcomed. A good host will make sure that guests who are alone don’t feel alone. I recently attended a small wedding by myself and the bride (my best friend) made sure she sat me at a table with people I have a lot in common and she made it a point to chat with me every chance she got. There was no moment where I felt the weight of my singleness.

No part of your newly single life has to be miserable, including holiday parties. Anything that you enjoyed while coupled up could be just as entertaining when you’re single. Of course, being heartbroken throughout the holidays is never easy, but hopefully, these tips help you have a little fun as you work through mending your broken heart.

Finding Gratitude for Heartbreak on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Menders. Many years ago, when I first started Mend, I spent this holiday in San Francisco and wrote this note to the small group of family and friends who were my very first Mend subscribers (before we even had a wesite!)  I’m so grateful for all that has happened between then and now and I’m so grateful for all of you. Have a wonderful holiday. Love, Elle.

“Be thankful for every heartbreak, for they were planned. They come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. Their purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life. And you do.” —Unknown

Going back to a city that you gave a chunk of your life to is always bittersweet. There are so many memories in every corner. For me, moving to San Francisco from Boston was a transformative experience. I had just ended a serious relationship, in part because we weren’t right for each other, and in part because I wanted to move to California and he didn’t want to go with me. I knew the move west was right for me professionally and personally, and I was determined to get there, even if that meant going alone and leaving pieces of my heart on the floor.

I was so heartbroken when I arrived, but San Francisco and the people that I met here took me in graciously and got me back on my feet. I don’t know what I would have done without this place. In fact, my only steady love interest in the first year of living here was the city herself; the breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the magic of Dolores Park on Sundays, the damp running trails of Golden Gate Park and the way the city looked as you approached from the Bay Bridge. My love affair with California continues to this day, though this year I made my way down the coast to warmer weather.

As I was walking through the city yesterday, I caught sight of places where I’d been on first dates, thirtieth dates, birthday dinners and lazy weekend afternoons. There is a part of remembering those moments with significant others that is painful, but these days I mostly feel gratitude. Without those people, I would not be where I am now. I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and I mentioned the memories that had come rushing in when I returned and how I couldn’t believe things had worked out the way that they did. She said something like, “It can’t be any different from exactly how it is.” And that’s so true of our experience with heartbreak.

Every time our heart is broken, we are changed. We have to face ourselves and then, eventually, have the courage to face someone else again and lay it all on the line. And the amazing part is that we do that, over and over. So today, even if it seems impossible, I challenge you to express gratitude for all the heartbreak that has led you to this very moment. Without it, we would certainly not know ourselves as we know ourselves now.

Love, Like the Journey for the “Perfect Body”, is Not a Fairytale

The American way is to love a fairytale. Everything wrapped up in a beautiful bow with a happy ending + equal parts of sappy and cute on the way to the dreamy Ever After. I mean, who doesn’t visualize themselves as a Disney princess at one point in their life and measure every guy you’re with against a Prince Charming ideal?

The problem with this is, well, it’s fiction. Not to mention, it doesn’t prepare you for the bad and the ugly that comes with reality in relationships. It is supposed to be “in sickness and in health” not just sunny days and rainbows.

The main issues I have overcome in my love life have been setting realistic expectations for a partner, recognizing that some things simply have an expiration date without anything drastic happening to end it, and that forgiveness is imperative to move forward from any and all challenges.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Realistic expectations for me include eradicating your concept of the “perfect” partner – it doesn’t exist – all the while, accepting that there will be ebbs and flows to your relationship as you grow and change. 

Another major issue is to compare anyone to the “goods” from previous relationships. Leave those in the past where they belong. Every single person and pair of people will coexist and relate to one another differently. You can’t expect a partner to bring with them all of the things you loved about past partners, and comparison is always a dangerous game. 

If you feel like your expectations aren’t being met, sit down and discuss it openly, asking your partner to first listen and then talk through your feelings. I ask this of my clients as well; I encourage them to approach me when they think they are missing something in their healthy living program or in my services.

Not All Relationships Are Forever

A relationship doesn’t have to crash and burn to end. No one has to be purely at fault either. This is an issue for so many people because this can lead to the feeling like you don’t have closure, that you could still work on things because it wasn’t “awful,” or there’s always that “what if” feeling and pull to stay for the good times. 

Closure also shouldn’t come solely when you move on to the next person either. Mentally and emotionally wrap up the relationship and address and readdress the reasons why it ended. Ask yourself if there was more good than bad or indifferent. I did this with someone with whom I was happy with, but didn’t share the same view of the future with me and wasn’t as communicative as I’d like. I needed more emoting, I needed more of my love language. They were a great person, but not my person.

Forgiveness = Forever 

If you can be in a relationship where you genuinely forgive your partner for things, you are ahead of the curve. Resentment and lack of closure when it comes to disagreements will fester and can destroy your respect for one another, will continually interrupt your physical and emotional connection, and can permanently damage your ability to effectively communicate with one another. 

In my relationship, we may fight or disagree, and sometimes we say things we don’t mean, but, we always sit down and talk through it, hug and touch, listen and learn, then move on and thrive knowing that we communicated through it, not around it.

The Holiday Season Breakup Survival Guide

Breaking up around the holidays can feel like the worst time for it to happen. However, it is possible to get through the holiday and enjoy it, even if you are going through heartbreak.

Here are 5 helpful reminders to keep you going:

1. Accept That The Holiday Season Will Be Hard

Accept the breakup. It will relieve some stress and is one of the first steps to mending. It’s not about putting on a front or ignoring how you feel. Know that it’s ok to feel sad. You still have to take care of you and your heart. Treat yourself with loving compassion and care.

2. Get Involved

While you might be tempted to hunker down into hibernation mode for the entire holiday, it’s really important to be as present as you can at any gatherings with family and friends. It doesn’t mean you need to act happy all the time, it just means you need to make an effort to engage with people, even when you don’t feel like it. Attend the holiday parties and join in on conversations. Give yourself the opportunity and permission to enjoy yourself.

3. Think Of Others

We can feel incredibly lonely and isolated after a breakup. Volunteering your time to a charity or shelter can be an amazing way to give back to your community. Not only will you be helping your community, but you’ll also be able to meet new people!

4. Make A Clean Break

The holiday season tends to be a sentimental time, so you might feel the brunt of a breakup even more. Try to channel your energy into creating positive intentions for the New Year. Think about creating stronger bonds and relationships with friends and family you love. Use this time to work on your goals and redefine with who you are and what you want.

5. Create A New Tradition

Mark the holiday season with a new tradition. This can be helpful because it will help you to stop comparing this holiday to previous ones. Whether you choose to fly solo or with friends and family, your new tradition should reflect you and where you want to go.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, this holiday season is the time to ground yourself and nourish yourself – be sure to slow down and recharge before the start of the new year.

4 Tips For Healing, Forgiving, And Loving After A Painful Breakup

“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you will know exactly what to do.” -Anonymous

About five years ago, I learned the biggest lesson of my life about self-love and losing oneself in a relationship, through a breakup that almost killed me.

After going through another night of three hours of sleep, I drove myself to the ER to save my own life. I hadn’t eaten or slept much in three weeks, and the scale pointed to 97 pounds. I felt weak, malnourished, and unloved.

Three weeks prior to that morning, I had found out that the love of my life had started dating the girl we’d had the most painful fights over.

He’d met her at a party when I was visiting family and continued flirting with her, despite saying he chose me. Though he would have been happy to stay in a relationship with me, I knew I couldn’t be with someone who openly flirted with other women.

When I learned he was now dating her, I heard a thump on my heart. Literally. It ached sharply as if there was a chestnut-sized rock sitting in the middle of it, vibrating strongly in response to a transmitter signal far, far away. I half-died that day.

As I climbed back up from that point, I discovered truths about love, forgiveness, and healing.

Maybe you are in the middle of such a painful breakup, or maybe you are in the aftermath of a breakup that left you shattered and undone. You are sitting on a ball of emotions you don’t know how to unravel.

Although I can’t give you a personalized plan to heal and grow from your experience, I can share some pointers, as someone who is on the other side of it all, looking back over the five years of her recovery. These ideas may help you fine-tune your own healing process.

1. Don’t make an event your whole life story.

What I learned about letting go is that the pain starts changing form into wisdom when we make a decision to not make one specific event from the past our whole story.

Instead of thinking your life is over because you’ve lost this one relationship, gain a broader perspective and try to see the breakup as valuable to your personal growth.

The purpose of the pain was to reveal what needed healing and to gain the wisdom you will need further along your path. A relationship that taught you something about how to love and be loved is a win. A relationship full of mistakes but expanded by wisdom and forgiveness is a successful one.

We are story-making machines. It is natural to make a recent event the focus of our current experience. But your story is not over. You are still writing your story with the choices you make today.

2. To heal, you have to be an active participant in your life.

People often say, “Just let it go. Let the past stay in the past,” but this is misleading. Letting go isn’t as easy as turning off a switch or erasing words off a whiteboard.

I didn’t know what letting go meant. As far as I was concerned, that part of my life was still alive in me, balled up and tangled. Every time I heard those words, I pictured removing an organ out of my body. That didn’t make sense. I wondered how other people let go and why I couldn’t just let go and live happily ever after.

Here is what I discovered: You are never going to forget those relationships with deep soul connections. You just won’t be dwelling on them daily when you are busy exploring life and the depths of your own inner being.

You don’t need to have forgiven or be completely healed to participate in life around you. I spent a year and a half in isolation. Nothing healed. Not even a feather moved during that time. My healing didn’t start till I started living.—by volunteering, going on lunch dates with friends, and going to events to meet new people. Sometimes letting go means simply living a full life, without the other person.

3. Allow for forgiveness to unfold on its own time.

I must admit, making the choice to forgive was not easy, but being patient while the process took place was even harder. Letting go, forgiving, and healing from a relationship is not like hitting a reset button. It takes time to build up the courage to face that buried pain and allow it to leave you. And sometimes, before we can forgive, we need time to experience enough joy and connection with others to dilute the pain of how we were hurt.

Forgiveness is about digesting pain into wisdom. Into acceptance. Into compassion. Into an expanded heart that can hold space for it all. It is not about living like nothing painful happened, because life does not stop for us to heal. Flowers still bloom and the sun comes out every day. We heal while we take in more of life. The death-rebirth cycle in nature that exists in life also exists within us. It is a never-ending cycle.

As I started opening up to new experiences and actually living, I allowed new insights to come in. My heart had time to breathe. I put myself in his shoes. I asked myself, “What would I do if the person I loved but kept hurting unintentionally left me when I didn’t want the relationship to end?”

When I eventually developed enough courage to admit that I would have gone onto the next best thing (the other girl) to ease the pain, compassion came. It took me nearly two years to register the depth of his loss and how he must have felt left out in the cold. We all do what we can to find relief from pain, and that was his way. I didn’t need to judge it or to see it as a transgression against me.

When you want to increase the temperature of water in a bath tub, you don’t take out the cold but add hot water until it reaches your desired temperature. That is how grief, healing, and forgiveness work. Trust your body and soul to hold you through the processing of a whole chapter in your life.

4. Update your perception on relationships.

I loved my ex deeply. I can carry that in my heart’s memory and still know that we were teachers to each other who were not destined to be together for a lifetime. I am no longer hurting because of not being with him. I have done my releasing ceremonies and let memories run through my mind, bringing up various emotions—anger, resentment, grief, jealousy, and lots of tears, too. I sat through them. Some of it hasn’t been pretty.

We are taught that a ‘good relationship’ is one that lasts a lifetime. If it didn’t last, we believe that it was a failure. If we have several ‘failed relationships‘ behind us, we assume that it is because we are just unlovable. Success seems to be the most prized value in our modern society. But wisdom through experience can be even more valuable.

I realized that the way I had been viewing relationships was outdated. What if relationships were intensive training programs for our souls to learn about love? What if they were the perfect set up to practice being loving, kind, understanding, forgiving, and accepting both toward ourselves and the other person?

If you learned the lessons you needed to, the relationship was a success, whether it lasted three months, three years, or for decades. Take your wins and carry them forward with pride. You are a survivor. No one can take that away from you.

I am now in a relationship that is continuously growing and teaching me more about love than any book on the planet could. I am in love and enjoying practicing new ways of doing relationships.

I have spent time and energy recognizing how I put up walls, respond from a place of immaturity when I feel hurt, or disregard my partner’s needs because my inner child was triggered into her pain.

I’ve learned to give him space, to do things that make me happy, to recognize and own my projections, and to practice self-love so I don’t expect it all to come from him. These were some of my mistakes in past relationships. I had to get honest with myself, own them, and work on them.

Our love is not fickle; it is resilient because we both are. I found out that two people who have walked through fire and excavated their soul truths with their bare hands create a relationship that can stand the test of time and the tricks of their own egos. I can’t know for certain this relationship will last forever, but I now know all relationships are valuable and there is life after a breakup.

The Psychological Effects of A Breakup

There’s no sugar-coating the fact that breakups can be incredibly tough to deal with and when a relationship ends, it can have a devastating effect on our mental well-being. These days more and more people are turning to psychotherapy to deal with a range of issues including dealing with the loss felt during a breakup. The physical symptoms after a breakup are not a myth. They include loss of appetite and acne caused by the stress of the breakup. It’s a pain that almost everyone goes through at some stage or another, but what really happens to our psychological state when we’re suffering heartache?

Breakups Are Akin to Physical Pain

MRI brain scans and other neuroscience technology studies have shown that the withdrawal of romantic love activates the same parts of the brain which are activated when addicts go through withdrawal symptoms for drugs like cocaine or opioids. It also sends the same signals your body pays attention to when you’re in physical pain. The MRI scans showed that there were several areas of the brain which showed activity when the study participants looked at pictures of their former partners, including the areas which are part of the brains reward or motivation system. This is what communicates the release and delivery of dopamine – a hormone involved in both drug addiction and the early stages of love.

Dopamine causes us to try and find the love object, hence why we spend days thinking about the other person. It’s for this very reason that it can be so incredibly hard for us to move on to a relationship with someone else. We tend to idealize our exes and distort the memories we have with them. We romanticise the reality and forge an idea in our minds of what life with them is like when often it’s not the truth.

They Cause Us to Self-Deprecate

When we reflect on the time of a relationship, it often leads us to question what we did to cause the rejection. It’s all too easy to assume that the reason our partner left us is due to a fault in our personality or physical appearance. It seems that rejection leads us to question or change the view we have of ourselves, perceiving our personality as toxic and negative, which leads us to feel inadequate. But this pessimistic connection between a relationship ending and self-worth can lead to becoming more guarded with new partners and potentially ruining future relationships as a result by putting up emotional walls.

Being Broken Up With Is Harder on Us Than Breaking Up With Someone

A difficult aspect of breakups is the notion of being broken up with by someone and imagining that the person initializing the breakup is living their best life now that you’re out of the picture. The reason why we find it so much more emotionally taxing to be broken up with than to break up with someone ourselves is that while the breakup feels sudden to the person being rejected, their partner has likely not been emotionally invested in the relationship for a long time. This means that by the time the breakup occurs, the individual has already accepted the relationship ending and has had time to process that mentally. The rejected partner is still at the other end of the spectrum, experiencing the early stages of grief, loss, and sadness.

A Healthier Way to End A Relationship

Not all breakups have a negative impact on us psychologically and there are ways to have a healthier outlook on a relationship ending. For those with a lesser connection between being rejected and how they see themselves, the emotional impact of a breakup will be much less. These people often see a breakup as just a fact of life and an experience that is sometimes necessary.

Others may choose to see it as evidence that they were not well-suited for the other person, rather than it being their fault that the match wasn’t successful. Studies have shown that the brains of these types of rejected partners show activity in the prefrontal cortex and the cingulate gyrus, which are connected to regulating emotions and impulsive reactions. What these suggest is that some people are simply wired to cope better with recovery and decision-making, as well as cravings and obsessive behaviors, than others.

To minimize the psychological impact of a breakup, regardless of how your brain reacts, there are ways you can help yourself move through it more easily. Try making a list of the compromises you made in the relationship, so you’ll know what to avoid settling for in the next relationship and increase the things you enjoy doing, even if they don’t seem interesting or enjoyable at the time. Going through the motions with your usual hobbies and interests will help to signal to yourself mentally that your life is moving on. You should also reach out to people you trust and make the most of the support offered to you from friends and family.

Lastly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your feelings or hopeless, make sure you lean on free help resources or, if you’re able to, talk to someone one-on-one. You don’t need to go through this alone. You can also download the Mend app for science-backed advice and a virtual community.

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. 

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 actives 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. 

A Different Kind of Heartbreak: Moving Out Of New York City

I like to think that I have multiple hearts. They belong to my family, my friends, grilled cheese sandwiches, all types of M&Ms, and one is dedicated to New York City.

When I was three years old, I visited New York for the first time. I was a fish out of water as a little girl from Dallas, Texas wearing my first “real” winter coat. It was then my love affair with the Big Apple began. I told my parents that I would eventually live there. And I spent the next 18 years trying.

Right before graduating the University of Maryland, I landed a job in Soho. It was absolutely surreal. I had done it. 18 years of working towards a dream – the studying, the internships, the interviews – and it had all paid off.

I quickly moved into a 650 square foot converted 3-bedroom apartment. My room’s dimensions were 6’2″x10″, my closet was in the hallway, and one of my roommates had to walk through my bedroom to get to hers. But I was here. I was living in Manhattan.

The next four years were spent falling deeper and deeper in love. I went to almost every tourist attraction twice. I could recite subway stops by heart. I ate at every hot, new restaurant I could afford. I subscribed to New York Magazine to read about upcoming concerts or the latest Broadway shows, or even more restaurants to save up for. I spent Christmas Eves in mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and summers in Central Park bumping around a volleyball. It was a magical and unforgettable time in my life.

My work as a freelance TV Producer led me to meet my fiancé – a Brit living in London. We spent 10 months across an ocean from one another before my heart could take it no longer. We had decided we would move to the States eventually to raise children, and I would move to London in the years before.

The decision to move to London was a tough one. I was flooded with mixed emotions. I was leaving family and friends but they were already making plans to come visit, and of course I’d be able to Skype back home as much as possible. But following my heart also meant leaving a heart behind. A heart of mine that couldn’t answer texts or Facetime or hop on a plane over the pond. I had to break up with my first love and I knew that my new city would never be able to fill the void of my old one.

The wood floors and elevator in our new flat made the inside feel just like my Manhattan apartment, but I had no protection outside the walls. London was different. The bright lights were gone. The locals spoke a different English to mine, and constantly corrected me as if I was doing something wrong. There was no hazelnut coffee offered at the local coffee shop with the same man smiling at me behind the counter. The Tube lines confused me and I always felt lost – in more ways than one. It was one of the most difficult and confusing times in my life.

How could one of my hearts be so solid and another so frail?

I chose to New York-ify London as much as I could. I found my favorite coffee shop, shoemaker, tailor, and an American diner for those days I was really homesick. I researched all of London’s up and coming restaurants, kicked a soccer ball around in the park in the summer, and subscribed to Game Pass to watch my Cowboys on Sundays. Slowly, London was and still is becoming not just where I live, but my home.

I still sit on my couch and reminisce about New York, a place my mother now refers to as “Carrie’s city”. I regularly miss it and all that’s part of it greatly. Because, to me, New York does has it all: A restaurant solely dedicated to how many ways you can serve a meatball. Beach volleyball on a pier in Tribeca. A hotel where you can hold the door for Susan Sarandon going to lunch, have a ping pong game with a fresh pint in the biergarten, and party until 4am while dipping your feet in the rooftop pool!

But of all the wonderful things that New York houses, there’s one thing it doesn’t. And now he has my heart.

Do you have a story of a different kind of heartbreak? Submit it to hello@letsmend.com.

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.

How My Failed Engagement Shaped My Career

Sometimes change happens gradually over time, and other times it sneaks up and knocks the wind out of you suddenly.

My breakup story is the sudden kind. I can remember the day — no, the moment — everything changed. When I realized the person I was about to marry was someone I barely recognized. And almost in that same moment, my life became one that no longer made sense to me.

I look back and can honestly tell you that I wanted to be married. That I wanted the husband, the house, the dog and the career. When much of that was ripped out from under me, I had to face reality.

False Ideas About Happiness

First, I needed to take a step back and understand why I had wanted those things in the first place. It was there, in my motivations, that I found the problem. I had defined my success as a person by my major accomplishments. I had foolishly based my happiness on the expectations of others. On accomplishments that I thought others would be proud of (or envy me for). This included getting married, buying a home and having a covetable career.

I felt like a failure when I called off my wedding. When I sold my engagement ring. And when I moved out of my house. I was crushed by this feeling that I had screwed up my life.

Hitting the Reset Button

Even though I was feeling suffocated by these “failures,” I realized something — square one is a decent place to start a new life. I was no longer obligated to anyone else. The financial burden of a mortgage was soon wiped away. If the reset button had been hit in almost every other area of my life, why not my career as well?

Yes, I was proud of my career accomplishments. I worked at a great agency, my co-workers loved me and I was good at my job. But I never felt fulfilled. All I wanted was the type of job where I could feel like I provided value to my community. Where I could harness my passions to benefit the lives of others.

Dreams of going back to school for nutrition had played in my mind for years, but I never acted on them. The house. The wedding. Those things had been more important. So I continued to work, rather than head back to school.

But things changed. And I was left with a big choice to make in the midst of chaos.

Facing Fears When Courage Is Lacking

The problem with making major life decisions, like going back to school, is that they require some serious steam to be propelled ahead. Still reeling from the detonation of my relationship, there were days when I didn’t even have the energy (or appetite) to feed myself properly. Days when I couldn’t focus at work and barely checked anything off my to-do list. Days when I drove around with my radio at impossibly loud levels because hearing myself think was too painful.

So how do you find the momentum and courage to change your life when you can barely function?

1. Accept that there are bad days. Some days, eating a meal that doesn’t come from the McDonald’s drive-thru will be an accomplishment. Give yourself those days, free of guilt. On another day, you can take steps toward your new future. Today, make it through.

2. Break it down into incredibly small steps. When I was in particularly rough shape, I made a goal to work out. And so my therapist and I broke it down into tedious little steps. One day, find a gym bag. Another day, pack it. Next day, set the bag by the door. Day after that, take it out to my car when I leave for work. This same theory can apply to bigger things. One day, spend one hour researching nutrition schools, and so on from there.

3. Worry less about which direction you’re moving, and more about the progress you’re making. There were many moments where I caught myself worrying that by going back to school, I was regressing or moving backward with my life. I had this house, career and adult life that was being traded in for an apartment, part-time job and college. When I was able to stop worrying so much about the status quo and what others would think of me, I was able to see that the positive changes I was making truly are propelling my life in a beautiful new direction.

4. Journal your experience. There’s something wonderfully cathartic about writing down your thoughts. For some reason, things appear clearer and more manageable on paper. You can also make a point to end each writing session with a positive thought. It can be something small, like mentioning how you sat outside in the sunshine for a few minutes. Even stopping to think about a seemingly insignificant detail of your day will have a positive impact on your mood.

A breakup is just one chapter, not your entire story. In the end, you have one life, complete with every experience that shapes who you are. You don’t move backward — you progress and grow. So make the most of the time you’ve been given. I challenge you to find the courage to use this hardship in a way that propels you ahead.

How To Know If You Love Yourself

The importance of self-love is something often lauded but hard to achieve. When you’re swimming against the tide of years of low self-esteem, it can feel like a losing battle.

But it’s a battle that’s worth fighting. When you learn to love yourself, some amazing things happen that will transform your life. But it’s not always clear what it means to “love yourself,” so here are 5 concrete things that happen in your life when you love yourself.

You stop worrying about other people’s opinions

Growing up, we all experience that deep anxiety about what other people think of us. At best, it’s annoying, and at worst, it’s downright crippling.

But the best cure for that anxiety? Learning how to love yourself. The fear about what others think of us is borne of a subconscious dislike of ourselves. We lack confidence in who we are — in what we wear, what we sound like, what we look like, how we behave.

When you learn to love yourself, all that melts away. You know that you look beautiful, dress like a queen, and act like one too. So why do other people’s opinions matter? You’re out to impress no-one but yourself.

You don’t need a partner to make you happy

Have you ever been having a great time at a family event — especially a wedding — only for some distant aunt to come over and ask why you haven’t got a partner yet?

The sympathetic gaze, the condescending hand on the shoulder, the “you’ll find someone, I’m sure” — I think we’ve all been there.

But when you learn to love yourself, rather than those people feeling sorry for you. Instead, you feel sorry for them.

Gone is the desire for a significant other to validate your existence. You validate your own existence. You come to the realization that relying on someone else for your own happiness is a fallacy — and it’s the best.

You become more comfortable with your body

Our bodies are often a flashpoint for our self-loathing. There’s so much pressure from the media to look a certain way. If we perceive ourselves as falling short of that standard, it can dramatically impact our mental health and self-esteem.

But when you love yourself, you reject that impossible body standard. You embrace your body for its uniqueness, and it’s liberating.

Of course, fighting against media portrayals of body images is nigh-on impossible. Thankfully, there are pockets of resistance that combat this.

The personal care brand Dove is one such example, with its Real Beauty campaign that challenges traditional standards of beauty.

The Life After Birth project is another beautiful example of this in action. Pioneered by Canadian underwear brand Knix, the project celebrates women’s bodies after birth through photos. It shows postpartum bodies as they truly are, praising their natural beauty.

Brands like these are fighting the good fight. When you learn to love yourself, these campaigns eclipse the negative media stereotypes and it just gets easier.

You value time alone with yourself

For many of us, alone time is abhorrent. It doesn’t just mean being alone with yourself and your negative thoughts, but it also (wrongly) means that other people don’t want to be with you.

But this is a false idea propagated by bad ads, social media, and the worst chick flicks. It’s simply not true that being alone is a bad thing. In fact, it’s refreshing and deeply liberating.

Loving yourself means loving time alone with yourself. And to be honest, it’s the best. Watch the films you like, listen to the music you like, eat the food you like — what’s not to love?

You get rid of the negative people in your life

In life, there are negative people that masquerade as friends but who are, in fact, out to simply knock your confidence and bring you down.

In the Bridget Jones films, these people are described as “jellyfish”. Spending time with them is “like swimming in a lovely warm sea, then suddenly something stings you and next thing everything is back to normal except a bit of you really hurts.”

Naturally, these people should play no role in your life. But when you don’t love yourself, you cling to these friendships for validation, even if it’s at the expense of your self-esteem.

Loving yourself gives you the courage to jettison these friends. You realize you don’t need them in your life, and you’re able to avoid them, ignore them, or simply tell them how you feel. It might seem a big deal at first, but soon you’ll start to enjoy a life without the frequent stings of your jellyfish friends.

Learning to love yourself is easier said than done. But it’s something worth striving for, and it starts with being aware of the relationship you have with yourself. Thinking of the examples above, have you experienced any of these? Are there any areas you’d like to cultivate more?

Why You Should Trust Your Intuition

A few weeks ago a client of mine called in tears, revealing she’d just discovered her boyfriend/soon-to-be fiancé, had been cheating on her. I listened closely, pouring love through the phone as I shared her pain. And then she said, after a good nose blow, “And you know what Jamie, I knew it.”

“You knew he was cheating?!?” I exclaimed.

“No, though there were definitely signs I ignored,” she said slowly. “I knew deep down he wasn’t the one for me but I just kept telling myself I was supposed to be with him.”

She went on to explain her unhappiness over the last 4 years. She detailed his habitual pulling away, his belittling comments, and her constant desire for more connection and deeper intimacy.

“I kept telling myself that my dissatisfaction was helping me grow; that somewhere there was a lesson to learn. I spent so many nights searching for gratitude; just one thing to be grateful for in our relationship and often I could only come up with, ‘No relationship is perfect and really, it’s not THAT bad. He loves to cook and makes a good living. It could be so much worse.’ And yet even that left me with a sick feeling in my gut. My body knew and I just couldn’t face the truth.”

Oh how common this is: Brilliant women ignoring what their body knows for fear of the truth. They stay in toxic relationships, unfulfilling careers, and lackluster friendships under the guise of growth, thinking they’re learning something through their struggle.

Crazy thing is, the actual growth is listening to your body, trusting her, speaking your truth and getting out. That’s the lesson that needs learning.

We’ve all done this. I too thought my unhappiness in my marriage was a sign of something I needed to learn within the marriage. We are women with incredible capacity who are used to working hard. We get off on it. And so we stay in unsatisfying relationships being more comfortable with struggle than with ease and joy. In fact, ease and joy can be terrifying, especially if our motto is, “if it’s not hard it’s not worth it.” When struggle is a badge of honor it’s all too easy to justify staying in unhealthy relationships as much needed “lessons” to help us change and grow.

Don’t get me wrong. Recognizing, interpreting, and voicing the truth that lives within your body is not easy either. It takes major ovaries to trust yourself and, as I see it, is one of the toughest lessons to learn.

The good thing is, we know you’re tough. You’ve shown it by staying in an unsatisfying relationship for years hoping that in honor of your struggle, some sort of golden insight will appear to guide your relationship to the perfect love promise land.

Here’s the deal. You know it’s time to go when you hear yourself saying:

“This is teaching me a lesson.”

“My pain is helping me grow.”

“It’s not that bad.”

“But our relationship has such potential.”

No honey, it’s the wisdom within you that has the potential, not the relationship.

The lesson you are now meant to learn is to trust the tight, fluttering ball in the pit of your stomach that tells you that, no matter what your old stories of loneliness and abandonment say, it’s just not right.

Be gentle with yourself through this process. Recognizing the wisdom in your body to voice the truth inside takes time and patience.

The good thing, is you don’t have to tough it out in your relationship any longer. That lesson has been learned. It’s time to ease into this new one.

Dating Someone Older Than Yourself: The Pros And Cons

Have you ever dated someone older? In this episode of LILAP, Elle and Sarah May talk about the benefits and challenges of dating someone older. They discuss the concept of people “re-entering the dating pool” after a first marriage or kids, and they also talk about what to look out for when you’re dating someone older. Sarah shares her perspective on marrying someone younger, and they both discuss what to look out for in dating regardless of age.

If you like this episode, be sure to subscribe and give 5 stars on iTunes so more listeners can find LILAP.

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!

Lisbon, Comporta & the Alentejo Region: Travel Guide

Had I known what I was missing, I would have made it to southern Portugal sooner.

Luckily, one of my best friends got married in southern Spain in March, which gave me the excuse to fly to Lisbon and tack on a long weekend trip post-wedding. I spent a day happily meandering up and down the cobblestone streets of Lisbon, but truthfully I was more interested in what lay a few hours south in the Alentejo region.

The first thing that you notice when you leave bustling Lisbon for Comporta is that after about an hour the development starts to dissipate and then disappear along the coastline. No high rise condos, no giant highways and no shopping centers. When I learned more about the region, I began to understand that development has been carefully restricted along this part of the coast to preserve the natural habitat. 

This is one of the many reasons I’ve chosen Cocoon Portugal in the Alentejo region of Portugal as our home for the next Mend Away retreat. Our retreat next March is all about unplugging, slowing down and reconnecting with our natural rhythms. Mend Away Portugal is a 7-day yoga and mindfulness retreat, open to you whether you’re mending, single or coupled.

Though our retreat will have a daily schedule – twice daily yoga, daily meditation, three meals a day – there will be plenty of time to explore the neighboring area. So in anticipation of that retreat, I’m sharing my favorite places in Lisbon (where we’ll fly into), Comporta (the halfway point) and near Vila Nova de Milfontes (where we’re staying).

WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON, COMPORTA & THE ALENTEJO REGION

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Cocoon Portugal (Alentejo) – This beautiful 275-acre coastal farm and yoga retreat will be our home during our week-long retreat next March. It’s my #1 pick for where to stay in this region for a number of reasons: farm-to-table meals from their garden, proximity to the beach, beautiful yoga shalas with high quality equipment, access to a freshwater lake and well-designed rooms and common spaces that all open to a courtyard. Not to mention, the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, and they’re focused on sustainability and preserving the beauty of this region.

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Sublime Comporta (Comporta)- If you want to spend a few extra days in Comporta before or after the retreat, this is a luxurious place to decompress. Tucked away in what feels like a national park, the grounds include a main communal area with a lobby, bar and restaurant. From there, guests can walk out to the large pool and guest rooms that are dotted around the property. The pool, spa and restaurant are all world-class, which makes it easy to stay there during your whole stay, but I highly recommend taking day trips to the nearby pristine beaches.

Airbnb (Lisbon) – If you’ll be in Lisbon before or after the retreat, there are a lot of affordable and cute Airbnbs if you book with enough time in advance. I recommend staying in Alfama, a more historical cobble-stoned street neighborhood that sits near the water.

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Memmo Alfama (Lisbon) – If you’re looking for something more upscale or full service in Lisbon, try the Memmo. This beautifully-designed boutique hotel has an unbeatable view of the ocean from their outdoor terrace and is well-situated in the heart of the Alfama neighborhood. If you’d rather avoid a more traditional hotel, check out the houses from Dear Lisbon.

WHERE TO EAT + DRINK IN LISBON, COMPORTA & THE ALENTEJO REGION

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Restaurante Sal (Comporta) – Sal is one of those places where you feel like you’ve struck gold. Tucked away on Pego Beach with no neighbors, you park in a small lot off the main road and walk the rest of the way along a small boardwalk. Once inside, you enter an oasis full of lively tables of families and friends, even in low season. You order simply by picking your fish and sides, and they grill everything for you while you look out onto the ocean. I went here as many times as I could and that still wasn’t enough. If you’re joining us for the retreat, I recommend you give yourself enough time to enjoy a meal here either on your way down from Lisbon or on your way back (or both!)

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Comporta Cafe (Comporta) – Comporta Cafe is a relaxed beach club that serves great food and cocktails, and it’s another great pit stop to make in Comporta on your drive from Lisbon to Cocoon. You can relax directly on the beach or grab a table on the outdoor patio. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, and they even have showers if you decide to take a dip in the ocean.

A Choupana (Alentejo/Vila de Novo Milfontes) – If you didn’t stop for lunch in Comporta on your way south from Lisbon to the retreat, you can also swing by this local favorite restaurant closer to Cocoon. It’s a great spot to grab lunch and kill some time before check in.

Acevicheria

A Cevicheria (Lisbon) – This restaurant in the heart of a trendy neighborhood is where I had the ceviche of my dreams. It came highly recommended by a friend and it exceeded my expectations, despite some mixed reviews about service online. The fusion ceviche here is inventive, and the setting is fun (I mean, there’s a giant octopus sculpture hanging over your head!) I recommend making a stop here for a nice lunch or dinner if you’ll be in Lisbon before or after the retreat, and they don’t take reservations, so go as soon as they open.

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Hello, Kristof (Lisbon) – If you’re needing a caffeine kick, this is the spot to go. Arguably the best coffee in Lisbon, it’s also a great place to eat a pastry while you enjoy their fantastic selection of indie mags. Just keep in mind that they’re only open on weekdays, so if you need weekend coffee head to one of the Copenhagen Coffee Lab locations around town or The Mill.

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Timeout Market Lisboa (Lisbon) – If you’re looking for an affordable and quick bite, this is a food court on steroids where you can get practically any type of cuisine you want. There are many options from famous Portuguese chefs, which makes it a nice stop if you don’t have a lot of time to dine in Lisbon. They also do salsa nights from time to time! A few noteworthy stalls: Manteigaria (for pasteis de nata), Sea Me (for seafood), Santini (for ice cream) and Conserveira de Lisboa (a famous conserva shop).

Landeau Chocolate (Lisbon) – Their slogan is “If nothing else works, try chocolate cake,” which means I’m a huge fan. Go for their cake but be sure to try their other chocolate confections as well. They have a few different locations throughout Lisbon, but I recommend the one in LX Factory, which is a cool shopping, eating and art center in a converted warehouse.

WHAT TO DO IN LISBON, COMPORTA & THE ALENTEJO REGION

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