I pulled the blankets in closer, wiped the tears from my eyes, and realized I was alone. His belongings were gone and our contact was limited to business-like conversations about items he forgot in the apartment. Here it was, week 2 post-breakup aka the “Sad Burrito Phase.”
I spent a lot of time alone, curled up on the couch, wrapped tight in a blanket, feeling sorry for myself during the second week after our split. Yup, that’s the “Sad Burrito.” The anger had dissipated and I was left with a pit in my stomach every time I came home to an empty apartment. I wanted to eat, but nothing sounded good. I didn’t want to be alone, but I didn’t want to socialize. I wanted to call him, but I didn’t want him to pick up. So, when nothing sounds right and your motivation falls flat, what do you do?
Step 1: “Embrace the Sad Burrito.”
This is what one of my best friend’s, Kaitlin, would tell me every time I would text her. “Emily, just embrace the Sad Burrito!” And she had a point. It’s important for us to recognize and process the sad feelings we’re going through, even though they’re uncomfortable. It’s much easier to distract yourself with work, eating, drinking, dating, or socializing. However, if you don’t take the time to be still and embrace your sadness, it will linger for longer and you’ll miss out on huge learning opportunities.
Step 2: Boost Your Serotonin.
We can learn and grow from our suffering, but at a certain point our pity-party becomes destructive to our health. It’s important to keep your engine running. That “low” feeling keeping you on the couch is a result of low serotonin (a neurotransmitter/hormone that makes us feel happy), endorphins (mood enhancing hormones), and other hormonal imbalances. Luckily, there are many natural ways to boost those “feel good vibes” that are also beneficial to your overall health and well-being!
The most common known way to increase endorphins and boost serotonin is, you guessed it, exercise! Not all forms of exercise are created equal when it comes to finding your happy again. The best types of exercise to get your groove back are those that get your heart-rate up. I loved going for longer runs outdoors (Vitamin D is another natural way to boost these hormones), doing some more HIIT like in Week 1, and taking Zumba classes (music is my favorite anti-depressant).
Some more of favorite, heart-pounding workouts on Life in Spandex are:
There’s also certain foods that help boost serotonin and dopamine.
Complex carbohydrates like oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat bread and pasta contain tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to serotonin in the brain. Pair with some lean protein for an ultimate boost.
Foods containing another brain-enhancing amino acid, tyrosine, can help you feel more alert. Include low-fat dairy, like Greek yogurt, lean chicken and turkey, almonds, avocados, bananas, pumpkin & sesame seeds in your diet to get an extra boost of tyrosine.
Try this recipe for Clean Eating Rosemary Chicken Breasts.
Vitamin B6 can also help increase your serotonin levels back to normal. Find this vitamin in foods like raw spinach and other leafy greens, fish, whole grains, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, edamame), and lean poultry.
Try these recipes:
Keep eating your Omega-3’s in foods like salmon and walnuts! Just as much as they helped you regulate your adrenals they will also help boost your serotonin.
Try these recipes:
Top these Pumpkin Pie Pancakes with walnuts
Last, but definitely not least, dark chocolate has been proven to decrease stress and boost happy hormones. Oh yes, any excuse to eat dark chocolate! Just remember to keep your portions in check or it can be damaging on your health and fitness goals.
Try these recipes:
Step 3: Find an outlet.
There were days during the second week post-split where I asked myself, “How can I possibly be productive today?” It’s that feeling where you wish the world could just stop for a second and drown yourself in a chic-flick and a pint of Halo Top ice cream. Although life never really stops, you can find moments to soothe yourself in healthier and more helpful ways than comfort food and Netflix.
This blog is one of my outlets. Writing is my way of processing and growing from hardships. It also helps me create gratifying connections with my readers which gives me a sense of purpose. I’ve also found journalling, reading a new self-help book, hiking, or coloring (yes, you heard that correctly) to be centering. Discover whatever it is that helps you process your heartache and keep moving forward.
Step 4: Be kind to yourself.
The instant gratification of the sad burrito, guilty-pleasure TV, and comfort food subsides pretty quickly. Our pleasure-centers are very sensitive. Once the bag of chocolate chips is empty, the movie ends, or the sun goes down, low self-esteem sets in.
I tend to get anxious and down on myself after doing “nothing” for too long, eating poorly, or having regretful thoughts about the past. It’s okay to not feel like yourself or want to partake in the things that normally excite you. After being with someone for so long, they become a part of you. When they’re gone so quickly, the sense of loss is rooted in your soul.
During this week, it’s really important to remind yourself of all the amazing things that make you, you, without the other person. You are worthy of the partner, career, love, and life that you envision. Make a list of all the things you love about yourself. I’m not kidding. You can start small with things like, “I make a mean cauliflower crust pizza” or “I always listen to my loved ones when they need to talk.” Every time you start to doubt your self-worth, look at the list and read it until you believe it.
Step 5: Call on your troops.
Secluding yourself to isolation will only make you feel worse. It’s okay to rely on your friends and family to help lift you up during these times. When romantic love is lost, it’s important to acknowledge all the other types of love around you.
Step 6: Put your d*mn phone away.
What’s harder than going through a break up? Going through a break up while all your friends are announcing engagements and posting wedding photos on social media. One of the easiest ways to make yourself feel worse during a trying time is to start comparing your life-path to others.
A very wise woman (aka my mom) once told me, “You can’t get off your life path because it’s yours.” It’s so true! Our paths may not always be direct, but they’re ours, and the trying times are what help shape us into the amazing people we are today. Endings are only beginnings. It’s not necessarily that you’ve lost something, but rather made room for something better or more suitable.
Remember, most people only post the good times on Facebook. Each picture or status update is only a snapshot of his/her life. Be grateful for what you have in the present moment, get clear on what you want in your future, do everything in your power to work towards it, and then leave the rest up to the universe.
Step 7: Dance it out.
When in doubt, dance it out! When your thoughts become negative and your actions become unproductive, take a break. A dance break to be specific. Whether it’s alone or with friends in your living room or out at your local bar, shaking your hips and getting lost in some upbeat music always does the trick. Speaking of music. You may want to listen to Ed Sheeran ballads on repeat. But when you’re feeling really low, happy songs need to be your go-to. Whether you feel like being upbeat or not, sometimes you got to fake it ’til you make it!
Speaking of music, don’t worry, I’m not leaving you guessing! Here’s your Staying Healthy Through Heartbreak Week 2 playlist full of upbeat, dance-worthy jams to rock out or workout to!
Tell me what are your best coping mechanisms for when you’ve become a “Sad Burrito?” Tell me in the comment box below!
Health and happiness,
Not sure it’s time for a breakup? Find out more about couple’s therapy.