On Friday, the man in my life called to say he was leaving me for another woman. I got the call three hours before we were supposed to meet for a sushi date and six days before the most romantic day of the year. It’s been a couple of years since I was last dumped, and I like to think I’m a more mature, composed woman now, one who has developed the tools necessary to handle this breakup like a real, live grown-up. The strategies I’ve been using to get over it have worked for me, and in honor of Valentine’s Day, my employees have asked that I pass these strategies along to any fellow heartbroken Lobos. I hope it helps.

Tip 1
Call a friend: Whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, breakups are traumatic, especially during the hours immediately following. Call up your funniest friend and ask him or her to meet you for coffee. You probably need the company. Plus, laughter releases endorphins and is clinically proven to increase your ability to ignore pain, according to an article published in Scientific American.

Tip 2
When you drink to deal with your problems, your problems lay eggs: Avoid at all costs the temptation to go get drunk and take someone home. If you’re angry at your ex, alcohol will only heighten that and increase the likelihood you’ll do something you’ll live to regret, such as showing up at his or her house at 3 a.m., leaving him or her angry messages, slashing his or her tires, etc. A drunken hookup might feel good in the moment, but see how you feel in the morning, when the heartache is still there and you’ve added a hangover and a stranger in your bed to the equation.

Tip 3
Elevate your thought-life: Thoughts of anger, resentment and jealousy in relation to your ex serve only to hurt you. When I sense my mind going to dark places, I literally take a second to shake my head, as if I’m shaking the bad thoughts out of my mind. Try making a list of all of your ex’s positive qualities. It is possible to appreciate this person apart from his or her relationship with you, and I was surprised at how good that revelation made me feel. My ex raised two amazing children, works in a profession that requires him to risk his own life to save others and is incredibly dedicated and passionate. Those things haven’t changed just because he doesn’t want to be with me anymore.

Tip 4
Step outside yourself: Helping others and being of service is generally the best way to get your mind off your own crap. Service work is already a big part of my life, and as soon as I got dumped, I took my mentor’s advice and significantly bumped up the number of hours I spent volunteering. Even small things, such as offering advice to a friend in need or cleaning out your mother’s attic, will help you to step outside yourself. If you want to take it a step further, many charitable organizations around Albuquerque are in need of volunteers. To volunteer at Joy Junction, the state’s largest emergency homeless shelter, all you have to do is fill out a form and take a tour. Hopefully you love service work so much you make it a regular part of your routine.

Tip 5
Avoid sad love songs: The temptation to put Bruno Mars’ “It Will Rain” on repeat is hard to resist, I know. But I find love songs plant thoughts in my head that I do not want there. If someone dumped you, it’s because he or she no longer wants to be with you and it is time to get focused on moving on. Songs about longing for someone won’t help you to do that.

~Elizabeth Cleary