your happiness photo

Rearrange Your Stuff

Rearranging your space may seem like a trivial task but it has a powerful yet subtle effect. When you do this you are breaking associations your mind has so it can start forming new ones.

If your living space feels a little new when you walk into it, your mind is being told every time that things are now different. Doing this in as many ways a possible is really effective, and for every new way you do it the power of it compounds.

The great thing about it is you can do it all at once, and it will keep working for long after you’re done.

In fact, go do it now. If you are at home, stop reading and get up and try rearranging the furniture, the bookshelves. Switch a few things around. Angle things differently, swap pictures on the walls.

Hell, if you’re at work change things around in your office. Change your desktop theme or screen saver.

Once you’ve done it set a time in the next day or so to do it more thoroughly. Change your sheets, comforter, put some new pictures up, new lamps…whatever. It’s only limited to your creativity. The goal here is that when you walk into your space it should jar you a little bit because it doesn’t look the same.

The next part of this exercise is to go through your stuff and start getting rid of things you don’t need. Throw out the crap you don’t use, clothes you don’t wear and put all those old electronics on eBay. There is something about doing this that really frees up some of the friction in your mind and gives you a bit of a blank slate feeling.

Once you’ve done all of this, every time you walk into your space the old associations you have will have less to hold onto, and things will feel different. This is one of the many ways you are going to structure your surroundings help your “unconscious” along.

Burn The Anxiety

To burn off the excess anxiety you need to exercise. But more specifically you need to cardiovascular exercise. I know…it may seem like the last thing you want to do, but ironically it is one of the most effective ways to instantly relieve yourself from the pain you are feeling.

More importantly, regular cardiovascular exercise will set the stage for the mental, emotional and physical recovery you will go through for the following reasons.

Tension release: Because you are burning all that built up internal tension, exercising is the single most effective emotional reset button. Remember, your body is having a stress reaction, which at its most primitive level is preparing you for action. If you aren’t using that potential energy it can actually become corrosive to your body in the form of stress.

Mental clarity: During and right after exercising you are going to get some mental and emotional clarity that you may not have had all day. This is going to feel so great. It is also going to break the momentum of all the bad feelings you have been having.

After you get that break after exercising, the bad thoughts and feelings are going to start bubbling up again. It may not take that long for them to back in full force. But each time you exercise the amount of relief you feel and how long you feel it will get longer and longer.

Balance: A growing body of evidence is showing that cardiovascular exercise is as effective at treating depression as Zoloft (the most widely prescribed anti-depression medication). Exercise has been shown to provide much or the stimulation to the brain needed for it to naturally balance itself, especially during times of extreme stress when it is most likely to become imbalanced. This is especially important for prevention of depression, so if you do this proactively it will make all the difference.

Growth: New research is also showing that cardiovascular exercise also encourages what is called “nuerogenisis” which is the creation of new cells in your brain. You have a lot of change ahead of you as you are going to be replacing many old habits, thoughts and associations. You’re mind needs to be in an optimal state to be able to adapt to these changes.

grow out of anxiety

Control: There is something really interesting that happens when you consciously exercise to speed up your recovery. There are so many things that are going on right now with your breakup and with your own mind and emotions that may feel like they are out of your control. Exercising is one of the few ways you can DIRECTLY affect them with your own action and this shifts the sense of control back to you. The confidence you start to feel from this has a snowball effect and gives you the strength to do more things to start changing things.

In short, if there is time in your life when you need to exercise the most, it would be now.

After you get that break after exercising, the bad thoughts and feelings are going to start bubbling up again. It may not take that long for them to back in full force. But each time you exercise the amount of relief you feel and how long you feel it will get longer and longer.

If you already exercise regularly then you may have to up it a notch or two to for it work.

If you are used to exercising in the morning that is great, though this may be a good time to try doing it later in the day, especially if the nights are particularly painful for you. It will help you burn off all the tension that has built up so far.

Cry

I can hear you right now. What the f&%$#! do you mean by that?

This is a tough one for guys. Numerous times I have asked people I am working with if they have cried yet, and in many cases I will promptly get an “I never thought of that” look from them.

On one hand it’s blaringly obvious to some, but you may be surprised how many people go months, upset and depressed about their ex, but they never cry once.

A common attitude about crying is that you are reducing yourself, or belittling yourself by doing it. As if it shows that you aren’t strong somehow.

There is also a pride aspect to it. Often people tell us that we shouldn’t cry because “that person isn’t worth it”. Ultimately crying doesn’t “cost” you anything, and one good cry can really make you feel so much better.

So, I want you to start viewing crying as something you do to heal yourself. It’s a great “reset” button, and it can really purge what you may have had bottled up inside for a long time.

I have found that usually the healing process actually begins when someone actually cries and really acknowledges the pain they are in.

Now on the other hand, if you do cry a lot, you get one more good solid session and then you need to practice pulling yourself together, a little bit at a time. But I have found for most people, it’s opposite, they have trouble getting themselves to do it in the first place.

So this may sound strange, but set aside a time to allow yourself to cry. To get the most out of this, there are a few things you should do.

Put yourself in a place that you feel safe. Preferably where no one is around and you don’t in any feel like you will be judged by anyone.

Create the conditions that will help get you started. If you have a particular movie or song that helps you to start crying, use it.

DO NOT JUDGE YOURSELF. Again, this is a purging, a healing process, this has nothing to do with who you are as a person.

Cry as much as possible. As you get started, do or think whatever you can to keep yourself crying as much as possible. Only stop when you simply can’t do it anymore.

Plan & Book A Trip

Plan a trip to go somewhere in the next month or so for a few days outside the city you live in.

And you thought this was all going to be hard stuff.

The only thing that is hard about this is seeing how important it is and really doing it.

This is a transitional time for you and you are going to be putting a lot of energy and willpower into getting through this, so you need to not only take a break but it’s important for you have something to look forward to.

More importantly, you need a milestone. Something in your mind that’s memorable and also marks an end of an era and the beginning of a new one.

Also, think back to all the vacations you have taken before. Didn’t everything feel a bit different? It’s almost as if there is this switch that is flipped in your head and suddenly everything takes on a new light. Everything becomes interesting, you’re more willing to talk to strangers and do things that are out of your comfort zone.

This isn’t a coincidence. Your minds reaction to new stimuli actually drives up dopamine, which is one of the chemicals it tends to become deficient on during potentially depressing times, such as now.

Yes, I know. I can hear you right now. But I have work…I don’t have the money… if only I had more time right now. I’m sure you have plenty of legitimate and creative reasons why now is not a good time.

But remember, this is your life and you’ve committed to doing everything you can in the coming weeks to get over your ex.

 

Let your family or your co workers know that this is something you need to do. If time is an issue, plan a weekend trip. And I promise you; right now there is no better use of your vacation days.

If you are creative it doesn’t have to be an expensive trip at all. Take a day trip to a retreat. Drive out to the nearest national park if you can. Go visit some family you haven’t seen in a while.

Obviously if you can bring a friend, the more the merrier. But if none of your friends can join you on this impromptu trip, do not let going by yourself be a reason to not go.

Don’t think too much about it either. Brainstorm for a little bit, get online and book the flight, make the reservations. Handle the details afterwards. You’ll be surprised how is easy it once you’ve done it.

Listen To All New Music

Yes… I’m going there. I’m even going to meddle with your music. Music is a huge part of most of our lives, and we often forget how powerful of an influence it has on us.

Music is so big for us because it really triggers our emotions directly. We often have images and memories that automatically come up when with music we have been listening to for a while.

Have you ever listened to a song that made you think of a certain era of your life? The thoughts, outlook on the world, and state of mind you were all come bubbling back, sometimes vividly and sometimes just in little bits and pieces. But the music still has the power to bring all that back.

Well, we are going to use that to our advantage. So, for the next 8 weeks I want you to listen to all new music. Music that you have never listened to before.

Go to your mp3 player, your car music player or your computer playlists and delete all the songs that you have on there currently. Obviously you don’t have to get rid of them entirely, but remove them all from any listening device.

To replenish your collection go out and find at least 4 or 5 new albums that you have never listened to before. Ask your friends if they know of any cool music you can check out and be open minded to whatever they give you.

Get on the internet and sample as much stuff as you can to see what you like. Give Pandora.com or other sampling sites a try if you haven’t already. You will be surprised how much new music you can accumulate if you put a little bit of time and effort into it.

Think of this also as great opportunity for you to go out and find new music, which we often neglect to do until our collections get painfully stale.

Oh yeah, there is a catch. No love songs. None.

Just for the next 8 weeks, and then by all means you are welcome to revive your Best of Bee Jees, Michael Bolton and Aretha Franklin playlists.

You may have to try some new kinds of music you haven’t listened to before. Techno, hard rock, hip hop, metal…classical, whatever works for you.

I understand that there is a certain pleasure in listening to a love song that really speaks to where you are at. But for the next 8 weeks I want you to look at listening to anything that reminds you of your ex as another thing that may keep you from getting over her.

At this point you probably have plenty of things that remind you of her anyway, so there is no need to hold onto the music that does.

So, think of this as rearranging the furniture of your musical world. This new music is a blank slate for you, and therefore your mind has to start making new associations with it.

In talking to many people after they’ve done this, I have consistently received surprised responses as to how quickly it made them feel better.

Plan 3 Novel Things To Do Per Week

This means things you haven’t done before or haven’t done in a really long time. Novelty is the key here.

This is important for a few reasons.

Doing new and novel thing breaks old patterns. You are sending another signal to yourself that things are different and new, and this helps make the change easier.

Novelty affects the brain. The chemicals in your brain that made you feel so good when you were around your ex are no longer there regularly, which really effects your mood. As it turns out, novelty stimulates these same chemicals.

Also, this keeps you away from your old haunts. The last things you need to find yourself doing is going to the places where you used to hang out together, even though it may be very tempting.

For a while it may feel like these things are no fun without your ex around. Many things are going to remind you of her. It may really bother you to see other couples and you might have the urge to tell her about things that you see, or something that reminded you of her, etc.

Ironically, going through that is part of why this is so important. The more you do this, the more you will find yourself having fun (even sometimes by accident) without your ex around.

The more you do this, the more you send a message to yourself that you can enjoy whatever it is that you are doing without her around. This may take some time, so that is why is really important that you make yourself go do this at least 3 times a week.

Go to a museum. Visit a park you have never been to before. Try a restaurant or kind of food you have never tried. Find some new hangouts. Make it a point to go to some bars and clubs you have never been to before. Find some coffee shops at a different corner of town that you never gone to before.

Revisit sports that you may have stopped doing or pick up a new one. Joining some kind of team sport is a great idea.

This is only limited to your creativity, so make finding new things to do a fun task in itself.

Contribute

Especially when you first get out of a relationship and you are feeling the most hurt, it is really easy to see yourself as someone who is need of help.

Over and over again people say that the biggest thing that helped them through the toughest parts of the break up were the friends they had in their lives.

contribute

Often though it can be easy to get too used to being the victim in a situation. It’s weird how this works, but the more you spend time in any kind of “role”, the more you will unconsciously fill that role.

So it may sound counter-intuitive, but the times you feel the weakest are the times you get the most out of contributing. Finding a way to contribute changes the role you have for yourself. When you actively go do things help others it does several things:

Changes the role you are projecting for yourself from someone who is hurt and in need to someone who is empowered and adds value to the life of others.

You exercise compassion for others, and it will remind you of the things you are grateful for having.

This might be the most important, it also puts you outside of you own head. When you focus on others and their problems, your own take a backseat. This will allow a break away from your own thoughts.

It also gives you a very strong feeling of accomplishment afterwards.

Now there really is a buffet of causes out there that you can go contribute to, so really it’s up to find what cause out there you feel the most connected with. Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking about a cause:

What is frustrating to you about the state of the world right now?

How can you help, contribute or mentor people who are younger and in need?

What makes you happy in your life that you think would make others happy too?

What skill do you have that you think would truly add value to others if you taught them?

Some ideas are:

Big Brother program for youths

Volunteer programs for at risk youths

Friendly visiting for home-bound elderly

Volunteering at your local animal shelter

Tutoring children or high schoolers

Working with abandoned or disabled children

It isn’t limited to these though. If there is anyone in your life that you think could use a random helpful gesture from you, go do it.

Do you grandparents need help around their house? Do you know anyone that needs a babysitter so they can go out for an evening. Be creative, find someone that you can actively add some value to and go offer to do it.