How to Heal from a Breakup: Follow The “Self-Care” Rule

The “self-care” rule can help you heal from a breakup. My guide will show you how by giving you all the tips you need along with a “breakup mistake” to avoid.

I’ve helped thousands cope with a breakup, often recommending the “self-care” rule, but not always. Knowing how to apply it is key. If you don’t think about it carefully, you might miss your chance to heal and grow.

But don’t worry; I’ll make sure you know what to do.

What is The Self-Care Rule?

The self-care rule is when you focus on yourself and your well-being for a set time, like 30 days.

This includes:

  • Taking care of your physical health;
  • Taking care of your mental health;
  • Taking care of your emotional health;
  • Taking care of your social health;
  • Taking care of your spiritual health;

Yes, all aspects of your health are on the table.

Simple things, like eating well, sleeping well, exercising, meditating, journaling, etc. And so on. Even “treating yourself” to something nice.

Also, you must not check in on your ex, online or otherwise, or else you will break the “self-care” rule. Instead, check in on yourself and how you are feeling. Be nosey about yourself and only share your progress and achievements with your friends and family (not your ex.) This approach shares some similarities with the no contact rule, but focuses more on personal growth

By following the self-care rule, you will ‘reconnect’ with yourself.

It is hard to heal from a breakup. You’ll really want to reach out and talk to your ex. Until recently, this person was your boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other. It won’t be easy. So you need to remember why you’re following the self-care rule.


Why Follow It?

Here are three reasons to get you started:

  1. It gives you time to heal your wounds, process your emotions, see where things went wrong, and learn from your mistakes.
  2. Taking care of yourself gives you what you need: love from yourself. Your ex is your ex because they didn’t want to be in a relationship with you. If you do not give yourself what you need, you will make matters worse for you.
  3. It gives you a timeframe to focus your energy on feeling better. By drawing a line in the sand, you can be 100% invested in a good and healthy form of selfishness —healing.

Taking care of yourself also prepares you for moving on later.

Is it Right for Me?

The self-care rule is not always easy to follow. The first step is to find out if your situation will require you to compromise on the rule.

For example:

  1. You have kids together (in which case, you might need to consider strategies for effective co-parenting)
  2. You work with your ex
  3. You study or go to school with your ex
  4. You live together
  5. You have an ongoing commitment with your ex that must be maintained

If any of the above is true then you need to stay in touch with your ex. And keeping in touch requires a compromise of the rule.

In these cases, instead of ignoring your ex I recommend you reduce the frequency of conversation. Strip the conversation to the minimum. Be polite and respectful. But don’t talk any more than you have to.

If the self-care rule works for you, the next thing to decide is how long it should last.

How Long Should it Last?

A few days of self-care is obviously too short. A few weeks is much better. And if you’re really struggling, a few months could be what you need.

Now, when I say “follow the self-care rule,” I am not talking about just “looking after yourself” because you should be doing that anyway as a matter of course.

The “self-care” rule is a hyper-focused time of selfish care taking!

It’s about putting yourself first to an extreme point.

As such, you want to do it long enough to feel better enough that you’re able to get back to normality.

After that point, you can drop back to “normal self care” mode which is what we all should be doing day-to-day.

So, a few weeks is a pretty good duration for being “extremely focused” on your self.

(You don’t want to overdo this to the point it negatively affects other areas of your life.)

Let me give you some general rule:

  • 4 weeks is a good, healthy, robust amount of self-care time. A month gives you ample space to heal and grow. If a few other areas in your life get neglected, it’s only a month.
  • 21 days is a good balance between “selfish” self-care and “resuming normal life” (you’ll still tend to yourself after this, but not so “obsessively.”)
  • About two weeks is fine when it isn’t a bad breakup and the relationship is less than a year old.

Hope that helps.

Will It Work for Me?

So long as you use the time to be hyper-focused on healing and growing, it will pay off for you.

This is about carving out a time for you to get better. If you do that and make the effort, you will get better.

Psst: Even though you may not feel like doing anything, you should make the most of the additional time you gain from exiting a relationship.

As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, if you leave dirty dishes in the sink, they’re still dirty 30 days later.

People mess up by not doing anything to help themselves…

But your life won’t get meaningfully better by waiting.

How to Do It?

Be obsessed with improving yourself.

For example:

  • Journaling or writing poetry
  • Creating art or music
  • Talking to a trusted friend or family member
  • Crying if you feel the need

Here’s some random tips to help you…

Take your M.E.D.S

This stands for:

  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Sleep

Tip: I would tackle these in reverse order (sleep, diet, exercise, with meditation last —you can swap meditation for any mindful work that you prefer.)

Be open to receiving support

A problem shared is a problem halved. So reach out to friends and family or consider professional help if you need it. This support can be crucial in finding closure after a breakup.

For example:

  • Close friends and family
  • Therapists or counsellors
  • Support groups or online communities
  • Self-help books or podcasts

Find out who you are

You’re not half of a couple anymore. You’re whole on your own. And it’s your job to realise that and make it so.

You can start with your passions and hobbies. For example:

  • Picking up an old hobby or exploring a new one
  • Travelling or exploring new places
  • Learning a new skill
  • Volunteering for a cause you believe in

Practice acceptance and —optionally— forgiveness

To really heal, you must release the past and accept how things are.

Tip: If you can’t forgive, focus on acceptance first.

Remember, the self-care rule is about healing and growth. Once you’ve taken this time for yourself, you’ll be better prepared for navigating the world of dating after a breakup, should you choose to do so.

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About the author: I’m a relationship coach with a focus on breakup recovery. I’ve been doing this for 13 years, helping thousands of people worldwide. I created the Breakup Dojo, a popular resource with over 1,000 members. I’ve authored several in-demand breakup recovery products, drawing from my deep fascination with psychology. I also publish the “Ex-Communication” newsletter, providing over 10,000 subscribers worldwide with actionable advice.