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Why You Should Go On a Post-Breakup Vacation

why-go-on-post-break-up-vaca.jpgPhoto: praetorianphoto / Getty Images

Whether you ended things with them or they did with you, breaking up is never easy. The end of a relationship can leave you feeling ~all~ the emotions: angry, confused, lonely, worried, maybe even a little relieved.

Obv, no one wants to feel sad and alone—but emotions can be unmanageable and overwhelmingly difficult to control. It's no wonder: Science has found that humans deal with heartbreak and loss—including breakups—through a grieving process. 

"Grief is rather a mixed and varied process that differs for each individual," says Karen Wyatt, M.D., author of Loss and Grief Survival Guide. Good news: Travel can be used as a way to recover and find new opportunities for healing in the grieving process. 

So, instead of sulking on your couch in the same yoga pants you've worn for four days and crying at the TV, get out and see what the world has in store for you. Taking a vacation can actually help you through your grief and improve your overall wellness. Here, exactly why you should go ahead and impulse-buy that ticket to Cabo or London when you're feeling heartbroken. (Related: The Best Solo Travel Destinations for Women)

Elevate Your Mood

More than 50 percent of Americans reported that travel improves their mood more than shopping or exercise, according to a survey done by Priceline. Even short vacations like weekend getaways can have a positive effect on your state of mind and help with post-breakup depression. (That's why you can score some legit health benefits from taking a spontaneous vacation even if you're not heartbroken.)

Planning a vacation can boost your mood even before you leave. Because it gives you something to look forward to, you'll be excited about and focused on your trip instead of your breakup.

Plan your vaca around a beach, river, or lake to get even more mood perks: Research shows that being in places with water (or "blue spaces") can reduce stress levels and improve mental health, according to the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. (Here are more science-backed ways nature can improve your health.) 

Change Your Environment

Use a trip to get away from your "normal" world. In a new place, there are fewer things to remind you of your ex and lots of new things to occupy your mind. It may seem like you're running away from your problems, but distracting yourself is not always a bad thing. (Related: How to Get Over a Breakup the Buddhist Way)

In fact, "distraction is one of many forms of emotion regulation," says Nicole Issa, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist at the Center for Dynamic and Behavioral Therapy. "It is NOT shutting down an emotional response and living in denial. If you're experiencing grief or loss, distraction can have the positive effects of keeping you grounded in the present rather than getting lost in grief, developing confidence in your ability to manage intense feelings, and enabling you to regulate your emotional response so you're able to both experience and honor your feelings."

Not to mention, you get to avoid those awkward conversations when people ask how your significant other is doing. Nobody purposely wants you to feel bad—they're asking because they genuinely care about you and want to know how your relationship is going. No matter the intention, it still hurts when someone asks about your relationship and you have to tell them it's over. (And by the time you're back in your usual social circle, people will be more interested in hearing about your epic trip and not your relationship.)

Establish a New Routine

When you're used to constantly texting your bae, always going to their place, and going out with them on weekends, a breakup can really throw you off. You've established a routine that involves another person. And when a breakup ruins that, it's jarring to establish a new one.

Going on and returning from a vacation can serve as the perfect clean-slate for a new routine. While on your trip, you're figuring things out day-to-day, maybe even trying something new every hour. This will help you be open to trying new things when you get back home. In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg writes about the science of habits—something called the cue-routine-reward pattern. By interrupting your normal behaviors and what cues or triggers those behaviors, going on vacation can allow you to develop new triggers.

Get Mental Clarity

While you're experiencing the beginning stages of the grieving process, your career may suffer. Keeping up with your job can be hard enough without the strain of negative emotions. You may find it difficult to focus. And a lack of innovation and creativity in your work could cause your coworkers to become frustrated if they rely on you for projects.

Taking a break will help you get back on track and avoid tension with coworkers. Vacations can give you inspiration and motivation and increase your productivity at work. For that reason, many top-level executives swear by vacations to recharge themselves. Kjeld Schigt, owner and CEO of luxury surf resort Kalon Surf, sees what getting out of the office can do: Many of his customers are C-level executives needing a break from the daily grind. "They often have breakthroughs during their stay or 'aha' moments," he says. "And often what they figure out is so simple, the solution was always right in front of them, or they already knew but just didn't have the clarity to see it. That's why regular unplugging, a new environment, and a focus on happiness, tends to bring out the best of us."

Getting away from the office, especially when you're grieving, will help you think clearly—whether your potential aha moment is work-related or about the silver lining of your post-breakup life. (Related: A Valentine's Day Breakup Was the Best Thing That's Ever Happened to Me)

How to Make the Most of a Break-up Vaca

When it comes to choosing your breakup vacation support squad, it's okay to go with one or two other people—just make sure you choose carefully. Take a friend or relative who's drama-free and who won't want to control the vacation. (After all, it's a trip for you and not them.) Don't go with too many people or you might become overwhelmed and the getaway won't relieve stress and help you work through your emotions.

If you feel comfortable traveling alone, go for it! You'll be surrounded by your own thoughts and work through things at your own pace without being bothered. (See: The Best Solo Travel Destinations for Women

Dr. Wyatt recommends choosing the type of vacation based on your level of functionality: If you're experiencing an "acute phase" of grief (the short-term, powerfully painful state following a loss) and you don't want to cram your day with activities, she says a restorative vacation with close friends and family is best. If you've moved on past the acute phase and want time to think about things, you might enjoy a contemplative trip by yourself. Or, you might prefer a destination with lots of physical activities (maybe even an adventure retreat!) so you can let go of some stress. 

And if you can't get away? Try these workouts to get over a breakup.


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