Because life is often so hectic, most of us yearn for additional free time to engage in activities we imagine will bring us respite and joy. If you are one such individual, your wish may be about to come true. Post-breakup, you are likely to find yourself with more unstructured free time than you are accustomed to.
As you transition into single life and choose how to best fill your time, you may be left feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and lonely. The majority of my divorced clients report feeling less lonely actually being alone than they ever felt existing next to a warm body in an unhappy, unfulfilling relationship.
Once the initial grief and disappointment begin to diminish, many newly single folks arrive at the conclusion that everything else in life is going quite well, aside from their breakup. Reaching this level of awareness is tremendously empowering because it provides the momentum necessary to move into your life’s next chapter with a renewed sense of determination and optimism.
Accept personal accountability after a breakup
There is no one way to be a perfect human being, but there are countless ways to become a better version of yourself. Use your newfound free time to evaluate the role you played in the demise of your relationship. When you assume responsibility for the ways you contributed to the breakup, you gain an opportunity to extinguish undesirable patterns of behavior that no longer serve you and replace them with healthier habits. Improving upon your less-than-stellar habits will also enable you to forgive yourself – a cathartic process that feels wildly liberating.
Consider investing in individual therapy or attending a support group to expedite your healing and increase your support system. Surround yourself with others who are committed to personal growth and development from a solution-focused lens. Remember, you become the average of the handful of people you choose to spend the most time with.
Online courses can improve your well-being
Consider taking an online course aimed at strengthening your coping skills to improve your overall sense of well-being. UC Berkeley’s “The Science of Happiness” is a free program that offers practical, research-based strategies for improving one’s social and emotional well-being. Once you complete the course, you can evaluate how your own level of happiness has changed along the way. You can also enroll in “The Science of Well-Being” – the most widely attended course in Yale University’s 300-year history. Over 10 weeks, Lori Santos, Ph.D., explores the pesky features of the mind that lead to irrational thinking. Then Santos introduces evidence-based methods proven to help improve one’s overall sense of reported well-being.
For the cost of less than two therapy sessions, you can invest in, “Girl, You’ve Got This! Rebuilding Yourself From the Ground Up.” I created this clear-cut, easy to follow divorce recovery program to walk you step-by-step through grief, forgiveness, reflection, personal responsibility, and conscious living, allowing you to emerge ready and able to embrace your future with confidence and enthusiasm.
Reconnect with abandoned hobbies and activities
Perhaps your relationship was holding you back from accomplishing your greatest dreams and aspirations. Use your newfound free time to pick up where you left off before you first got together. Hobbies or activities you abandoned during your relationship can become available to you again. Nothing is stopping you from living the life you’ve always wanted, and your options are endless.
What is something you have always wanted to do? Why not volunteer your time? The act of serving others can be incredibly healing. Engaging in altruistic behavior creates social emotional bonds that improve our overall sense of well-being. When I got divorced, I chose to volunteer as a way to take my mind off of my own problems and help others. I became a Guardian ad Litem—a court appointed advocate for children who have been placed into foster care. Ten years later, I am still a Guardian. Being of service to children and witnessing their families become reunified still brings me great joy.
Now is the perfect time to revise your bucket list. Be bold enough to try new, even unfamiliar experiences. Time spent outside of your comfort zone is a chance to flex your courage and confidence muscles. You never know where saying yes to something will take you. A few years after my divorce, I decided to attend a retreat in Costa Rica on a whim. That sparked a six-week trip to India three months later—a journey that changed my life for the better in ways I could have never imagined. Living with one duffle bag, my laptop, cellphone, and sporadic Wi-Fi service made me realize just how very little I need to be happy. I returned home and made many lifestyle changes.
It is not always feasible nor is it necessary to spend your free time halfway across the world. Several years ago, I began to attend a monthly networking group aimed at creatives in the digital realm—web designers, copywriters, and graphic artists. Even though my work is within the therapeutic psychology space, I learned so much by connecting and listening to individuals from a completely different industry. I also cultivated deep connections with several members of the group.
Improve your health and increase social support
Don’t underestimate the power of movement and physical fitness as a healthy way to not only fill your time, but also process grief and loss. Moderate to vigorous physical activity on a routine basis will help you manage weight, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve overall brain health. Consider taking golf or swim lessons, a group fitness class, or join a running (or walking) club. Many women decide to take up belly dancing or pole fitness as a way to gain strength and boost confidence post-divorce. If inner peace is what you crave, find out if your city offers yoga and meditation classes in your local park or community center.
Seek outside sources as you forge ahead
If you are intimidated by the idea of doing things on your own, consider becoming part of a local community who engages in social activities. Meetup.com is a great place to start. Meetup is an online community where you can connect with other people who share common interests through both virtual and in-person events.
Transform your post-breakup time into a catalyst for growth
Making good use of your free time is not a race to be won. You are not in competition with your former partner or with anyone else who has endured a breakup. Your goal ought to be to become a better version of yourself by optimizing the time and resources available to you. You can use your time to wallow, or you can use it to evolve and grow, becoming healthier along the way. Either way, time is going to pass – precious time you do not get back. How can you make your time count?