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:
-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.
If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can download our app Mend (iOS only). You can also sign up for our free class on "Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus."