A clinical psychologist has revealed five steps for coping with a breakup in a healthy way – and why a heartbroken brain can feel similar to ‘coming off drugs’.
Gabby Goodier, from Perth, WA, believes the end of a relationship is the perfect time for an emotional ‘detox’, which involves rewiring the brain with positive thoughts.
The founder of The Sage Society, an online practice that specialises in love and personal development, says this can be done by surrounding yourself with friends and family, spending more time outdoors, and staying away from social media.
Ms Goodier recommends ‘hiding’ or deleting your ex from your accounts, because research has shown that a ‘heartbroken brain is just like one experiencing cocaine withdrawal’.
‘More contact, even just seeing their face, makes cravings stronger,’ she said.
Perth psychologist Gabby Goodier (pictured) says their are five steps to ‘detox’ emotionally after a breakup
Five tips for getting over a breakup
1. Spend more time with friends and loved ones.
2. Get outside and into the sun each day.
3. Minimise time on social media and delete your ex from your accounts.
4. Limit alcohol consumption.
5. Maintain a neurological balance by focusing on getting eight hours of sleep, exercising and eating healthy food that you enjoy.
Source: The Sage Society
Ms Goodier also advises cutting down on alcohol – or better yet, avoiding it altogether – and focusing on developing healthy habits such as exercising, getting eight hours of sleep and eating a balance diet.
‘After a relationship ends, one of the reasons it’s so painful is that the neurons in your brain are firing differently,’ she said.
Ms Goodier explained this is because your ‘love cocktail’ – the hormones oxytocin and dopamine which are produced in greater amounts when you are in love – has been cut off and replaced with the stress hormone, cortisol.
Spending time with people you love, getting sunshine on your skin and reducing the time spent scrolling on your phone will help to boost your brain with the positive chemicals it is craving, she said.
An Instagram post of Ms Goodier’s tips attracted grateful responses, with many thanking her for saying ‘exactly’ what they needed to hear.
‘I needed this today,’ one woman wrote.
Another added: ‘After a very difficult few weeks here is some sage advice I heard: Not everyone is making a cameo in your movie.
‘They’re the lead in their own and will act accordingly to not only their own wants and needs but also their traumas and history. You are not central to every story so not everything that people do or say, or how they react, is about you.’
Ms Goodier advises surrounding yourself with close friends and family in the immediate aftermath of a breakup (stock image)
Ms Goodier also offered advice for anyone feeling uncertain about the future of their relationship.
She previously shared a list of 12 red flags that prove you have ‘reached a limit’ with elements of your partner’s behaviour, which could mean it’s time to part ways.
Obsessive thoughts, constant distraction and a sudden loss of interest in hobbies you once enjoyed are among the early warning signs that something is amiss, according to Ms Goodier.
She said unexplained insomnia, anxiety, mounting resentment and not having time for friends and family are also things to watch for.
Being overly critical of either yourself or your partner is also cause for concern, Ms Goodier said, as is the niggling sense that you can’t be your true self around them.
The psychologist encourages new singles to get outside in the sun each day to get a much-needed boost of dopamine and serotonin (stock image)
But perhaps the most obvious alarm bells are an inability to say ‘no’ to your partner and developing harmful habits like eating badly, avoiding exercise and drinking to excess.
If you are experiencing even one of these issues, Ms Goodier said it’s time to reevaluate your boundaries and decide what you really want from the relationship.
‘Recognising and having awareness of your red flags is one of the best ways to intervene before things become problematic,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
If you are unsure about calling it quits, Ms Goodier said feeling contempt for your partner is usually an indicator that the relationship is over.
‘When you are engulfed in a vortex of negativity, contempt is usually the final nail in the coffin,’ she said.
The 12 relationship red flags
1. You are overly critical towards yourself or your partner
2. You think obsessively about your partner
3. You feel resentful
4. You feel like you don’t have enough time for other people in your life
5. You feel depleted or depressed
6. You feel anxious
7. You feel you can’t say no to your partner
8. You forget to take care of yourself
9. You get easily distracted
10. You feel you can’t fully be yourself
11. You have lost interest in activities you previously enjoyed
12. You are experiencing sleep difficulties
Source: Clinical psychologist Gabby Goodier via The Sage Society
Obsessive thoughts about your partner (left) and suddenly destructive behaviour like neglecting diet and exercise and drinking to excess (right) are telltale warning signs
‘Even those subtle forms start to slowly erode any connectivity that once held you together.
‘Once your relationship is at that point of disconnection it is extremely challenging to find a path back to one another and sometimes it truly is healthier to get out sooner rather than later.’
And when it comes to cutting off toxicity before it begins, Ms Goodier tells her clients there are three cardinal sins that should never be accepted: abuse, addiction and infidelity.
‘It is most definitely possible to still love a person even with these variables at play, especially with the help of a mental health professional, but that never means you need nor should ‘tolerate’ the behaviour,’ she said.