Going through a breakup can be soul-crushing, whether you were with your ex for five weeks or five months. My last relationship only lasted for about three, but its ending was somehow more heartbreaking than the more enduring relationships before it. The heart can be an unpredictable, sensitive organ and we need to treat it with care.

One of my biggest hurdles has always been reacclimating to a partner-free routine without feeling the heavy absence of a used-to-be boyfriend. Because I’m a homebody, the first step I take after a breakup is making my home feel as peaceful and conducive to healing as possible. Small adjustments to my space sometimes have tangible effects on my emotional wellbeing (particularly during periods of mourning).

Staying aware of what makes us feel good and what doesn’t and respecting those realizations are often the first steps in moving forward. Here are a few of the household adjustments that brought me closer to healing (and to my sanity).

Clear your space

The first step to making your space a place of healing is tossing out old relationship memories that might be lingering around. Purging reminders of heartbreak or anything that brings up feelings of loss is one of the hardest adjustments to make, but the last thing you need to do is trip over a pair of slippers your ex gave you. If you don’t feel quite ready to throw away your memories, try hiding them out of sight (ideally in a locked box in the very back of a closet or in a storage space far far away). Then you can slowly replace those memories with objects that bring you joy. And if you used to live with your ex, you can even stage your own sage-burning, crystal-healing ceremony to symbolically cleanse and renew your environment.

And think of it this way – you no longer have to comprise. Embrace your freedom and make your space your own. Because let’s be real; you had better taste anyway.

Surround yourself with positive reminders

Be it a handwritten note taped to your bathroom mirror, a framed typographic print, or a work of art that lifts your spirits, there’s a subtle power in surrounding yourself with positive messages (particularly messages that celebrate your independence). Words have the ability to transform thoughts, and thoughts have the ability to transform lives, so filling your home with uplifting and empowering ideas can slowly infiltrate your mind and mood for the better.

Make your bathroom a sacred space

Bathing doesn’t have to be a dull routine. It can be a renewing and meditative ritual that you look forward to each day. A few small updates can actually transform your bathroom into a therapeutic spa-like experience. I sometimes take a salt bath before bed, surrounding my tub with candles (and crystals because, yes, I am that person).  You can also step up your aromatherapy game by tying a bouquet of eucalyptus to your shower head. Not only does it look beautiful, but it makes every shower smell pretty amazing.

Tap into your creativity

Journaling seems to be a great emotional outlet for most people. I occasionally journal but it tends to encourage *too much* introspection for my taste. I prefer to draw and paint. This helps me express myself in a more abstract way, which I prefer. So find something that works for you. You don’t need to be “good at” what makes you feel good. Focus your attention on whatever activity makes you happy. If you don’t know what that is yet, this is a great time to explore and figure that out.

Reach out to loved ones

After you’ve turned your home into a nurturing retreat, try to leave it sometimes. Not only could you reach out to friends and relatives, but you could also reach out to people you’ve always wanted to get to know but never made the time for. It can feel a bit awkward, but trust me, it’s worth the initial discomfort. I surprised myself and initiated a few of solid friendships after my last breakup.

Make your bed

And last but not least, keep your home tidy! During my most difficult period of heartache, a friend would text me every morning to make sure I made my bed. The idea was that starting the day with one productive activity would make me feel slightly better and that would lead to other positive habits, and it actually worked. Seemingly small adjustments to your morning routine can have a domino effect that buoys your mood through the remainder of the day.

But the most important step I took was been remaining patient with myself and the process. Healing can’t be rushed so try not to judge yourself for the depth of your heartache or how long it takes for the wound to heal.

Story by Gaby Cetrulo

Model: Roxie Vizcarra

Photos by Julia Robbs

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