I'm no superhero. In the wake of a catastrophic breakup, I absolutely have and indulge urges to stalk the hell out of my ex online. Well, it's not stalking, but it's this highly self-destructive activity that involves reading through all social media updates made public. I listen to sad records. I think about places I'm not "allowed" to go anymore because it's "theirs," not mine. I eat way more cheese than usual. I wallow. But what's the point? There are more productive things you can do than obsess over your breakup.
However, I consider it unwise to skip the sadness part. If you try to avoid it, the blues will only pop up later when unexpected and thwap your life way harder than if you'd just dealt with it immediately. But when your sadness deadline approaches, it's officially time to shift gears.
Try on a little perspective for size. Think of the first time you got your heart broken. It's probably been at least 10 years. Think of how you felt, how infinite that pain seemed. It took over your life and you couldn't envision a future in which it didn't hang overhead like an exhausting, dark cloud. Now consider today, right now. It's gone, right? Or at least mostly gone. You've likely done and learned a lot since then. That's a good thing! Here's how to get to that point a bit faster because, yes, there are more productive ways to spend time than wallowing in breakup blues. You could try:
Send a postcard to an old friend
How good does it feel getting snail mail that isn't a bill or addressed to the previous tenant? So good. Many corner stores and grocers offer postcard fare fit for an old friend's mailbox. Or get creative and draw your own design on thick paper and send away.
Go on a solo hike
Rely on your own senses in the wild. Bring a map, too, if cell service has the potential to get spotty. Bring snacks also because duh.
Clean your bathtub
Like, get on your freaking knees and scrub until the porcelain white is near-blinding. Make sure there's proper ventilation, though, because bleach can be kinda scary.
Unsubscribe from all the newsletters you never open
It took me a while to come to terms with myself never being a regular customer for fancy clothing stores, despite personal wishes. But unsubscribing from daily reminders of this truth I'll never live helped me further accept that (and the reality of my bank account).
Purge your closet
Remove all items you haven't worn in the past year, prom and bridesmaid dresses included. Sell or donate everything in good condition. Throw away underwear you'd be embarrassed to be caught wearing. No one needs 18 pairs of period panties.
Make sure tie-dying is a still a bad idea
Test with a pair of underwear you planned to toss anyway. Wear gloves, dear goddess, wear gloves.
Embroider a heart on a pair of underwear
A little secret, possibly accompanied by tie-dye.
Flip your couch cushions
The wine accents were cute, but.
Return every borrowed book you still have
For extra credit, tuck a little note in as a hidden bookmark.
Or read one of them
Like, actually read it. Don't start with a half-assed agenda then let it shift into permanent bedside decor (I'm looking at you, every Murukami I ever attempted). Be real with yourself and pick something you'll finish.
See if origami with aluminum foil works
It sounds like it'd be cool. Let me know if this hunch is correct.
Fold a note to a coworker before delivery
Ideas: Paper football, that square with the little triangles, etc. Surely you retained some of this important information learned in elementary school. Surprise a coworker with an ornately folded, cheerful message.
Visit the IMDB pages for your three favorite childhood films
Because otherwise how else would you know that kid from Kazaam also appeared on an episode of The O.C.? (Because he totally did.)
Draw a sidewalk chalk doodle or mural, pending time and energy
Stick with mostly nice messages if this will be in a public place. If you're too sourpuss to do that, do it somewhere secluded or eliminate words in general. A gangster dolphin doesn't need words.
Write an email to someone you admire
Many artists, for example, keep on drawing even though they feel like they're dumping it into a void. A scientist might feel so totally voiceless while slaving over experiments and papers. If someone did something you like or inspired you in some way, tell them.
Thank a person from your past
Maybe an old teacher was the one to push you to join the school newspaper and now you make a living writing. Perhaps an old friend's mom was the one to tell you middle school gossip—and gossip past that—usually stemmed from jealousy, and gave you the courage to go to school the next day, despite all the rumors. Or an acquaintance once said something nice on a day you really needed to hear it. Let them know your gratitude for that.
Recycle old magazines
If you and I are anything alike, the piles grow high quickly.
Or use them for a collage
Make something weird and wild and place it proudly on your mantle. Or rip out pages that would make cool wrapping paper and tuck them away to use when you need to cute-ify a gift.
Paint a wall
No neutral colors allowed.
Borrow a dog for the day
This is a thing you actually can and totally should do. There's an app for it.
Reset your online passwords
It's easy to hold on hard and fast to the ones that have been working since high school, but it's quite important to update. Be sure, though, you store the new info somewhere safe like your phone or a desk folder.
Buy some fresh flowers
Many grocers offer $5 bouquets. It's amazing how spreading out the lot through your home can brighten rooms and lift your mood.
See how many pieces of gum you can chew at once
The answer might surprise you.
Bake a lot of somethings
Cooking and baking are considered types of therapy. I never knew therapy could be so dang delicious. Plus, baking especially sweet smelling foods has the excellent side effect of making your apartment also smell great.
Hand out those somethings
Deliver some to a neighbor or bring the batch to work or a party. Share the sugary fruits of your therapy session.
Prepare your snacks or meals for the week
Again, the therapy thing. Also, zoning out while doing something methodic such as chopping is a nice meditation. Making sure you're set for the week with batches of cooked quinoa or rice, veggies, beans, etc. in serving-size Tupperware makes mornings a whole lot easier. Plus then you'll save money on eating out.
Hug someone you love and don't let go first
More difficult than it sounds.
Make an acrostic poem from your name
This is the gateway poetry we learned as wee ones. You associate each letter in a word with a new word or words and boom, you're a freaking poet. Here's an example with my name I just authored:Blissed-outExcited about a bath laterCorn chipsActually way less concerned about this breakup alreadySee how easy it is? Damn, bb, you look good in a beret.
Write a haiku about the Kardashians
Remember it's five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. It does not have to rhyme.
Learn basic phrases in another language
I recommend American Sign Language just because I think it's really beautiful. Here's the alphabet, if you wanna learn more about spelling out certain words.
Change your air filter
It's been a while.
Organize your closet or desk
This can help save you serious stress later on when looking for something. It's also a good opportunity to ditch stuff you don't need or never use anymore.
Not just for trips to the mall, as it turns out.
Select a theme song for yourself
Then play it whenever you need an extra jolt of swagger.
Clean out your purse
I'll never be not shocked at the astounding number of receipts I tend to collect. Also, mysterious sand.
Dump your computer's trash
Do a quick scan to make sure there's nothing important, then dump away. If it's been a good minute since the last dump, this effort might actually speed up your computer which is only a positive thing.
Clear your browser history
Learn to type again. Plus, this clears out all links associated with your ex so you'll be less tempted to "check in" as "checking in" will always make you feel like a trashcan.
Make a playlist of pump-up jams
No egos allowed, though ample Avril Lavigne is.
Organize a karaoke outing
Sing your theme song while wearing a feather boa and that glitter we previously discussed.
Position yourself at the front of a fitness class
This seems scary but it'll help keep you accountable for any breaks you feel compelled to take. It might help your confidence, too, if you were otherwise a bit nervous to begin with.
Consolidate travel-size toiletries
Funnels are helpful. Consider practicing over the kitchen sink.
Try to infuse some oil or liquor
Eat ice-cream for breakfast
Screw Wheaties. Top with sprinkles.
Compliment a stranger
If you see a person on the train with a dope-ass scarf with a dope-ass parrot pattern, tell them it's dope-ass. Or just nice. You could just say it's nice.
Ask a customer service employee about their day
I promise if you're not the first to ask that day, you're only the second or third.
Let someone cut you in line
When time isn't a big deal and you're not in a rush, why not? It's good karma and only costs you five more minutes cruising Instagram to make someone's day. Seems like a decent deal to me.
Store bags in your trunk
I constantly forget in the moment to grab some while en route to stock the fridge. Nip that in the bud by actively trying to start this green habit.
Give plastic bags to a friend with dogs
Hang onto a few just in case (seriously, I recommend bringing at least two on every trip to keep dirty clothes separate and in case of wet bathing suits), but you definitely don't need the 500 you've collected so far. They are not that beautiful, TBH.
Put something weird in your hair
Go old school with a nod to all the random food shit our moms put in their hair growing up. Examples: avocado, mayonnaise, onions, jojoba oil. If you can pair "food item+hair" in a Google search, the Internet will provide you with options...and tutorials.
Do a pore strip
Perhaps one of life's most satisfying experiences.
Hand wash delicates
I know the drill, I promise. When you finally make time for the laundromat or a friend offers their machines, you're eager to just get everything clean as quickly as possible. This messes with the integrity and quality of a lot of items, primarily lace underwear (hi, getting autobiographical again). Be deliberate and get going with this tutorial.
Create a desktop folder of babe GIFs
Throw away expired medication
No time for those, especially if you already feel like crap. Save yourself the future headache of digging up migraine medicine when you're hurting only to find it useless.
I'm looking at you, take-out soy sauce packets.
Downsize your plasticware collection
Especially if you were hanging onto said plasticware for future, still unplanned picnics. Regular silverware works for such outings, too.
Read your astrology forecast
Take the parts you like, ignore the parts you don't.
Dust the floorboards
Use one of those mateless socks you were gonna throw away from the wardrobe purge.
Draw a blind self-portrait
What facial feature is most prominent? It could be a metaphor. Or it could be total happenstance.
Post a bad selfie
We all have them and it's time we stop lying to ourselves about that.
Pick up trash on your block
Spend just 10 minutes walking around and throwing rubbish in one of those select plastic bags you saved. Then join the Instagram #litterati movement. Finally, dispose of the bag and thoroughly wash your hands.
Purchase an emergency bottle of champagne
But take it from me and be careful to store in the fridge and not the freezer where it will absolutely burst open and create a gross slushy. You never know when you might need to celebrate—it could even be tonight, because tonight you're not sweating your ex and that's worth raising a glass to.
Make a bath bomb
Martha Stewart calls them "bath fizzies," but we can forgive her and follow the tutorial here.
Do a hand treatment
Arrange a head rub exchange with a friend
Your life will improve, guaranteed.
Update your phone's contact list
Remove all contacts with no last name or those you couldn't even give a last name for. If you haven't already, consider removing your ex. Should you really need to contact them again, you can. You just don't need that reminder in there.
Update your iOS, too
Annoying but necessary.
Update your computer
Braid your hair
Channel your inner Katniss.
Talk to your neighbor
Bonus points if you can get past the weather or complaining about parking.
Spiffy up your front porch or stoop
A quick sweep and a nice succulent can bring a lot of life to the front of your home.
Turn off your phone
Sometimes it's best to unplug.
Leave an extra quarter in the parking meter
A very easy way to brighten another human's day.
See how many lines you remember from 10 Things I Hate About You
Because I bet I have you beat.
Create a Gwen Stefani inspo Pinterest board
She really is the coolest.
Make sure your sunscreen is still good
Most sunscreens work up to three years at their highest functionality. Ditch anything older than that.
Toss makeup you never use
Cosmetics have different shelf lives but if you already know you never wear something, buh-bye. Assuming it's still OK to use, see if another friend might want it.
Clip and use coupons for stuff you normally buy
Small amounts of savings add up.
Pick up change
That adds up, also.
Take time to respond
We have an overwhelming urgency in our society. Instead of feeling pressured to reply to an email or text immediately, think about what and how you way to say.
Don't feel like you have to respond
Every so often a lack of response is warranted. Healthy, even.
Enjoy being quiet
Know you're in the room so you can chill on stressing to verbally validate yourself all the time.
Sing at the top of your lungs
In your car, in the shower, in that karaoke sesh you organized. Don't worry if you don't sound exactly like Jewel. There's only one Jewel.
Go to bed early
And don't feel bad about it. No mo' FOMO.
Wake up for the sunrise
Start a new day without worries of your past, specific people included. It's a fresh start and you're gonna kill it, bb.
Images: Lotus Carroll/Flickr; Giphy(19)