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How to Survive the First 168 Hours After a Breakup: An Hourly Guide

Break ups are hard, but the first week is the worst. Use this guide on surviving the first week after a break up, and you’ll recover faster than you think!

first week after break up

Here you are. The unthinkable has happened, and the relationship that you thought was going to make it forever is now over.

Now, I don’t know what your story is – whether you were prepared for this, whether you saw the breakup coming, how invested you were in making it work – but I do know that no matter the situation, the first 168 hours are always the hardest.

168 hours. Seven days. One week.

In no way is it possible to completely move on after losing someone you loved in a single week, but there are some steps you can take to make sure that those seven days don’t destroy you, and that you come out on the other side ready to tackle all of the days to come.

Hours 1-24: Serious Self-Care

Immediately after your world is changed in such an intense way, the only person that you should be worried about is yourself.

Do whatever it takes to get these 24 hours to yourself – call in sick to work, arrange childcare, change any social plans. You need these 24 hours to take care of yourself, and to prevent anything bad from happening.

Unplug from social media for today – there’s no need for angry statuses, immediate relationship status changes, or hurried deleting of photos. You don’t want to send any messages while you are angry and hurting that you will regret later. This might be a hard step to take, but it’s a very important one.

It’s not wise to broadcast the breakup widely immediately – that’s going to take some emotional reserve you aren’t ready for just yet. Instead, tell a single trusted friend or family member so that they can check up on you. This is your day to stay in bed eating ice cream, marathon a guilty pleasure show on Netflix, and cry as much *or as little* as you need to. [Read: 10 signs you’re lovesick and easy ways to get out of it]

Hours 25-48: Alert your Support Network

Chances are, you don’t have the ability to take more than one day off for self-care *unfortunately, a broken heart isn’t considered a legitimate medical excuse at most workplaces*. Because of this, you are going to need some serious help from your friends to be a functioning member of society for today.

When you’re letting the people closest to you know about what’s been going on, don’t feel like you need to give everyone all the details right away. Draft a message that says the important things, and include that you don’t want to talk about it anymore but do need some support. Your friends are going to be more than happy to help you through today however you need it, but be sure to tell them what you would like.

Maybe having someone text you a crazy joke every half hour, or having someone go out for lunch with you is just what you need. Maybe you need someone to meet you at a bar immediately after work to drown your sorrows with you. Maybe you need someone to sit and listen while you pour your heart out – whatever it is that you need, to get through the day, ask your friends for it.

Hours 49-72: Going Public

Now that your closest friends know, it’s probably time to tackle your larger social circles. Phone or text important people in your life directly *such as parents, siblings, or any other close friends who don’t already know*, and quietly change anything on social media that you need to. While it may seem ‘too soon’ to be taking these steps, if you wait much longer it’s going to look like you are pretending that the breakup didn’t happen at all.

Don’t feel the need to respond to any comments or messages you get from this unless you want to – people will understand that you are hurting! If you had a friendly breakup, it is polite to alert your ex about how you are informing mutual friends. As well, in all of these communications don’t be unnecessarily cruel to your ex – that does not reflect well on you! [Read: 8 scenarios when you can be friends and 8 circumstances when you just shouldn’t be friends with your ex]

Hours 73-96: Turn the Tables

You’ve had three days of being miserable about this breakup *and understandably so!*. Now’s your chance to try and find some positives about this change of circumstance – it might seem impossible, but I guarantee that there are couple! Maybe there is a dish that you can cook that your ex hated, or a new movie you can watch, or a trip you can plan. Find some things to be excited about in your newly single life, and don’t be afraid to ask your friends for suggestions if you are having trouble.

Now that you’ve identified a couple of good parts about being on your own, put one of them into practice tonight. Maybe that’s watching a movie, or going out for sushi – whatever it is, take the time to enjoy your freedom and do something solely because it’s your favorite thing to do.

Hours 97-120: Make a Plan

Unfortunately, a breakup can have a lot of messy loose ends to deal with. Now that you are five days out from it, it’s time to figure out how you are going to move forwards with your life. Look on the calendar for any events that you expected to attend as a couple and figure out how you are going to handle them solo. This is going to be a hard day, but dealing with these events and issues now will prevent you from more misery over the next couple of months. [Read: 12 reasons why the no contact rule always works!]

Hours 121-144: Clean Up

Now that you’ve got a plan for how you are going to tackle difficult dates over the next little while, and you’ve taken the time to process your emotions and alert your support system, it’s time to remove any traces of your ex from your living space. This is going to hurt a lot, but much like ripping off a bandaid, it’s better to get the hurt over with now than experiencing it over and over every time you have to move his belongings around your apartment.

Arrange a time for her to pick-up her belongings, or take them directly to where she’s staying – whatever it is that works best in your circumstance. You will also want to make sure that if your ex has a key that you get it back from them ASAP!

Take the evening to rearrange things in your home in a new way, so that any empty areas are filled with your own possessions – you are a whole person on your own, and you don’t want blank space making you feel as though you are not. [Read: 15 life lessons you can learn from your own breakup]

Hours 145-168: Celebrate your New Life

It may feel far too early to be celebrating, but the fact of the matter is that you are in a new part of your life with unlimited potential. The kind of celebrating you want to do is up to you – maybe it’s a quiet glass of wine in a bubble bath or a wild night out with friends.

Whatever you choose, be sure to enjoy it fully – your life is taking a new path, and it’s sad that things didn’t work out, but there is no use in believing that it will never be happy again. Find a way to be happy even in the darkest moments, and you will find it much easier to get through them. [Read: 8 steps to get your self esteem back after a heartbreak]

There you have it. 168 hours. Seven days. One week.

If you’ve made it through these hours, you are going to be able to conquer anything else you have to face as fall-out from this breakup. You have made it through with strength and dignity, and without embarrassing yourself – even if it took everything you’ve got, you have made it through the worst part of this process and it is only going to get easier from here.

[Read: How to heal and love again after a breakup]

As difficult and painful as it may seem, follow these steps to deal with your breakup within the first 168 hours. It can be the difference between a quick recovery from heartbreak or a lingering, numbing pain that lasts several months!

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Briallyn Smith
Briallyn is a student by day, and a student by night too. Currently living in the middle of nowhere in Canada, with a love for beautiful people, long walks, all...
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