Busy my Autumn!
October 8, 2008 7:48 AM   Subscribe

So I just broke up with somebody I've been dating for several years. For the next few months I want to keep busy, improve my health, and do some things with my spare time. I'm thinking nanowrimo in November, and maybe something like the 100 pushup challenge. I'm cycling to work. What other daily self-improvement-y 'lifehacks' will make me healthy, happy and wise as I get over the bump?

I assume I'll get some responses like "You can't avoid thinking about/working through this breakup, and it isn't healthy to do so" or "stop avoiding the difficult parts of your life!" I completely agree with that sentiment, and thanks for them. But it takes me a long time to drift into sleep in the evenings, so I've pretty much got a half-hour every day set aside where I can't think about much else.

I'm looking for projects and things that can be done cheaply and slot easily into a day - the press ups example being a prime example of 'takes-up-ten-minutes a day and has tangible improvement'.

Help me fix myself up as I'm sorting myself out.
posted by anonymous to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Read some poetry for at least 10 minutes each day. I admit I hardly ever read poety but stumbled across this anthology recently, read it, and discovered some new poets I'm feeling inspired to seek more from.
posted by hazyjane at 8:05 AM on October 8, 2008

I think it's totally appropriate to find some decent distractions as you work your way through all of this. Your mind is going to do what it's going to do anyhow. When I went through an "it's about time" breakup, I threw myself into a few things

- regular walks around my neighborhood, just to get the bones moving and it gave me little things to think abotu and re-connected me to the place I lived
- breakfast/newspaper in the morning, same thing plus breakfast is good for you
- more routine, so I'd pick a day that was "go to the dump" day and a day that was "clean the bathroom" day and then I'd have something on the calendar for most of my days which made the time horizon not just seem big and looming
- MORE ME, it's easy to get into an easy rhythm with a partner and be happy there but then realize once you're not in the partnership that there were things you'd sort of let stagnate. figure out what these things are and reaquaint yourself with them. So for me it was activist zines and listening to that music that my bf said made him feel crazy. I think that sort of thing is helpful for hte moving-on process and it's stuff you like.
- the mail! this is probaly just me but I also reconnected with faraway friends by writing letters and updating people on my life. This is good because I think it's good to put some of that stuff down on paper but it's also fun to get stuff back in the mailbox that isn't bills or junk mail. If you have relatives that you are always saying "I shoudl keep in better touch" put aside 10-15 minutes to send a card like once a month. It's scandalously little effort and it puts more good mojo into the world
- move back burner projects to the front. For me this was getting mending done, going through my closet and getting rid of old clothes, cleaning out cupboards and setting up a stereo system. put osme of that extra time to work.

Good luck!
posted by jessamyn at 8:14 AM on October 8, 2008 [8 favorites]

2nd the reading. Excersize your mind as well as your body. You may want to get a cook book and do something creative in the kitchen. It will keep you occupied and should be interesting. The bonus being you get to manage your diet in addition to your excersize regimen.
posted by a3matrix at 8:15 AM on October 8, 2008

I am prone to obsess over the details of my personal narrative in situations like this, so I prefer to lose myself in someone else's narrative. You could try working your way through a long plot-heavy novel like Anna Karenina, or watching AFI's Top 100 Movies in order.

Also, do you have a good friend who lives in another state? Now would be an excellent time to take a few days off and visit.
posted by Mender at 8:21 AM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Now is an awesome time to get a meditation habit up and going. Take 10-15 minutes in the morning for it, and you won't regret it.
posted by piedmont at 8:37 AM on October 8, 2008

Walking is great. Are you interested in photography or drawing? That combines well with walking. But walking, with music or without, is easy and meditative and clears the brain. I know you think it won't help, but when you are about to go crazy, go walk.

Reading and movies are tv are only good if they're not going to remind you of the other person. it's not irrational right now if everything does. But only you know this for sure.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep. If you can't sleep at night, try listening to talk radio. I started listening to Coast to Coast AM over 10 years ago when dealing with a breakup. Depending on where you live, it can start at 11 or 12 or 1am, and runs until the wee hours.

If you don't sleep at night, let yourself take naps. You will need to find the line between getting adequate rest (and depression will tire you) and wallowing. On the other hand, you will need the occasional wallow.

If there's anything you've always wanted to learn, now is the time. Take a class, buy a tape, take a book or video out of the library. That way when you run into the ex, or anyone who knows them, the line "Oh, I'm fine, I've cleaned out that back closet and I'm learning the tango!" makes you sound totally awesome and Over Them.
posted by micawber at 8:51 AM on October 8, 2008

Start learning a language with Pimsleur. That's my next project.
posted by hazyspring at 9:09 AM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Start training for a marathon! It's one of the only things that can get me out of a slump. It gives me focus and a long-term goal. It takes a good 4-6 months to train, depending on if you have a base to start from. But crossing the finishing line is a life-changing moment. Knowing that you (YOU!) just ran 26.2 miles, that you did it, that you CAN do it, is insanely awe-inspiring. It's a terrific physical challenge but more than that, it's a mental one. You can find some training sites here and here.

Be careful, though! You need to be sure that you do it right. Going out too hard or too fast could result in injury. I sound like a commercial. Just be gentle but firm with yourself. It makes a tremendous difference and it's a fantastic goal filled with lots of little goals (can I really run 15 miles this Saturday? Just to run 18 the Saturday after? Do I run in the rain?). There's a lot of self-discipline involved, taking your mind off of Ex and funneling that energy into training.

Good luck no matter what you do!
posted by cachondeo45 at 10:27 AM on October 8, 2008

I think there have been some great ideas here for getting you busy - I just wanted to support you in keeping occupied vs. processing your breakup. You brain will do this on it's own. You don't need to sit around and contemplate it - it will notify you when there is something that you consciously need to process. Be good to your brain and it will do the work for you.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:46 AM on October 8, 2008

Set yourself up with a 101/1001 list.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:50 AM on October 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

Learn to knit.

A combination of audiobook classics and fancy wool will fill your time until you're Over It.

At which point, you will not only be Over It, but shockingly well read with cute knitwear.
posted by the latin mouse at 11:10 AM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Take on some kind of artistic hobby. No, not for "expression" or any of that crap, but because it's friggin' cool. Learn a musical instrument, for instance. Start a webcomic. Write a collection of short stories and essays. Doesn't matter, just something friggin' cool.

Alternatively, in the same vein of watching the AFI top 100, you could try and make your way through St. Johns' Great Books.
posted by General Malaise at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2008

Wait, did you break up with them or did they break up with you?

If you were the dumper: some people have written that when you dump you've often considered yourself single for a while before you do so. If this sounds like you, then maybe you're finally getting to do all the things that you felt held back from doing in the relationship. Go slowly, you might be a bit like a kid in the candystore. Make sure you pace yourself or you might get overwhelmed and then tempted into a new relationship without enough you time.

If you were the dumpee: for the first few months of being dumped (ages ago now) I was determined to become a "better person". First to win her back, and then later to prove to the world that I was strong, cool, assertive, etc. Later on I realized that this was not important. I felt incredibly free; I no longer had to do things for the benefit of either myself or some idealization of the kind of person I thought I should be in order to prove to the world that I was worth loving. If this sounds like you, the same advice goes: take things slow. Stay out of new relationships and have some you time. However, don't forget that you really have no obligation to the rest of the world to do or be anything. Feel free to just sit around, read books for fun, etc.

Either way, just support yourself no matter what you do.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:04 PM on October 8, 2008

Learn to play guitar
posted by jpdoane at 3:34 PM on October 11, 2008

Thanks for the link to the 100 push ups challenge!

Immediately after my last major break up I started joining my friends at their martial arts class, highly recommended. Great combination of physical release meshed with the challenge of learning. You'll meet new people, get fit while exerting all that emotion, improve your coordination, learn and new skill set; with the added benefits of measurable progress and increased confidence.
posted by nudar at 5:15 PM on October 15, 2008

learn and a new skill set
posted by nudar at 5:17 PM on October 15, 2008

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