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Katherine Woodward Thomas on healing from a breakup, including science-backed evidence

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Katherine Woodward Thomas, trainer of Mindvalley's Calling In the One, speaking about healing from a breakup

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Summary: Parting ways can suck. But there are science-backed advice for healing from a breakup. Here are five of them, with insights from Katherine Woodward Thomas.

Your breakup may have made you question your faith in love. But that doesn’t mean that you’re any less deserving of it. 

Now, when it comes to healing from a breakup, there are tons of useful tips on how to get over someone you love. But is there any scientific evidence behind these words of encouragement? Interestingly, yes.

Here are five common pieces of advice on how to heal from a breakup and the science behind them.

1. Let the feeling of shame go

With traumatic experiences, toxic feelings of shame, humiliation, failure, and social embarrassment often rise to the surface and take over our logical reactions. A breakup is no exception.

We feel shame at the end of a relationship because, culturally, we’re all somewhat under the spell of the happily-ever-after myth,” explains Katherine Woodward Thomas, the author of the New York Times best-seller Conscious Uncoupling and author of Mindvalley’s Quest of the same name. And when those fairy tale expectations come tumbling down, many of us opt to withdraw into ourselves.

Research has found that suppressing emotions is associated with high levels of depressive symptoms. However, when there’s greater acceptance of emotions, particularly in women, it leads to fewer depressive symptoms.

One thing that can help is journaling, a habit that research shows will increase positive emotions, including feelings of comfort, confidence, energy, happiness, optimism, relief, satisfaction, thankfulness, and wisdom.

2. Get up and move

It’s a well-known fact that exercise does your body good. But what benefits does it have for healing from a breakup? Apparently, a lot.

While breakups can negatively affect your well-being, exercising can help boost it back up. Its benefits include protecting against heart diseases, improving sleep, lowering blood pressure, and the release of the feel-good chemicals, endorphins.

But what’s even more interesting is that regular physical activity causes the release of proteins called neurotrophic, which enable nerve cells to grow and make new connections. As a result, the improvement in brain function makes you feel better.

Whether you’re out to get a revenge body or just strolling for some fresh air, putting in a little extra effort to exercise can do wonders for your immunity in the long run.

3. Lean on your tribe

When it comes to breakups, different people have different defense mechanisms. Some might isolate themselves into a world of Netflix binge-watching with their friend Ben & Jerry’s. Others might show up at every social event.

But the one thing we all — regardless if we’re introverts, extroverts, or a little bit of both — need in a time of crisis is this: connection.

Why? It goes back to the fact that humans are social animals. And according to neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman, Ph.D., getting more social is the secret to making us smarter, happier, and more productive.

One of his studies looked into social interactions in a classroom setting. The results show that when an individual is socially motivated to learn, their social brain can do the learning, and “it can do it better than the analytical network that you typically activate when [they] try to memorize.”

In the context of healing from a breakup, having and maintaining social connections are important to overall life satisfaction.

And it’s of no surprise, with research showing that good-quality relationships with family and friends can help you find purpose and meaning, stay well, and live longer… and ultimately, healthily accept that the relationship is at its end.

Katherine Woodward Thomas, trainer of Mindvalley's Calling In the One, with her husband
Katherine Woodward Thomas, trainer of Mindvalley’s Conscious Uncoupling Quest, with her husband

4. Design the love life you want

When hearts are broken, we often visit Memory Lane in hopes we pinpoint where it all went wrong. Katherine suggests going to Future Avenue instead. 

In her book, Conscious Uncoupling, Katherine highlights:

“A lot of our unhappiness that we’ve been trying to figure out and get to the source of by going and kind of looking at what happened to us in the past… I think actually the source of our unhappiness is that we’ve been out of integrity with the future that’s wanting to happen.”

One research looked into individuals’ connection with their future selves from a financial perspective. Their results show that the participants who accumulated more assets were the ones who felt similar to their future selves.

Most, if not all, weren’t taught how to attract deep, loving, authentic relationships. But the possibility is there. You just have to design the love life you want to have.

You really need to ask yourself: ‘Who am I willing to become to get the kind of relationship that I want?’ That’s hugely important,” explains Jon and Missy Butcher, authors of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Online Quest.

And when contemplating the aspects of love you wish to have, here are four points to keep in mind:

  • Make the conscious decision to have an incredible love life
  • Not only find an extraordinary partner but be one as well
  • Your relationship should be your life’s foundation
  • Do things to keep the spark alive

By identifying who your future self is, you set the kind of person you want to be and the kind of relationships you want to have. It gives you the developmental pull into that future.

5. Practice self-love

For some of us, breakups really mess with our sense of self. You might question who you are without the other person. But how can you care for yourself during this stressful time?

You can start by creating a self-love routine.

Now, we’re familiar with the concept of self-love as appreciating oneself. But it’s so much more than that. The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation breaks it down as a state that grows from actions that support our mind, body, and soul. And here are some suggestions to do so:

  • Mind: Don’t underestimate its power, for it has the ability to create success or failure, happiness or unhappiness, and opportunities or obstacles. It all depends on your mindset. And sometimes, it only takes three little words to strengthen it.
  • Body: Doing major acts of self-love, like going on vacation or a pampering spa day, is wonderful. But small daily doses can also have a huge impact on your psyche. Keep yourself hydrated, take a nap, practice breathwork, do yoga, break out in dance to your favorite song… whatever it is you choose to do, make sure you enjoy it.
  • Soul: Mindfulness is one of the most incredible tools to master. People who are mindful and self-aware know what they think, feel, and want, enabling their dream life to manifest. And you, too, can do so through meditation. Try the 6-Phase Meditation, guided by Vishen, founder of Mindvalley.

As Katherine says, “The truth is, we simply cannot continue to invest our energies in our neuroses, our dramas, our resentments, and our fears and think that we are a space for love.

Healing from a breakup with love

There’s no denying that breakups suck. But you don’t have to buy into the ‘happily ever after’ illusion that keeps your rose-colored glasses on and void of the reality that sometimes, things are better when they end.

Your next relationship won’t begin when you meet your next partner, but with how you end with this one,” says Katherine. So it’s time to wind up the pity party and start your healing process.

If you need some help finding your way, you can always find guidance and support from Mindvalley. Here, you have access to great teachers of love, like Katherine, as well as a tribe filled with people who have felt that heartbreak, too. They healed from it. And, friend, so can you.

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Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Picture of Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Katherine Woodward Thomas - Trainer
Expertise by

Katherine Woodward Thomas is the trainer of Mindvalley’s Calling in the One Quest and Conscious Uncoupling Quest. She’s the New York Times best-selling author of “Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After” and “Calling in ‘The One:’ 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life.” She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and teacher to thousands in her in-person and virtual learning communities.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.

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Fact-Checking: Our Process

Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.