Here's Why You Should Take Part in an Environmental Cleanse After Every Breakup
Breakups are the worst—and they can get even more painful when everything around you conjures up memories of your ex.
That's precisely why Annabel Acton recommends getting rid of those unpleasant reminders to set yourself on the path to moving on. She's the author of Never Liked It Anyway: A Fun and Feisty Guide to Beating the Breakup Blues, as well as founder of a website of the same name dedicated to helping women sell off the stuff that reminds them of their exes. Keep reading to find out exactly why an environmental cleanse might be what you need to heal.
Sweety High: After a breakup, why is it so important to get rid of the stuff that reminds us of our ex?
Annabel Acton: The items we surround ourselves with reflect our reality. Hanging on to old love souvenirs and mementos from a failed romance anchors you to the past in an unhealthy, unproductive way. It doesn't mean you have to set fire to everything, but putting things out of sight and out of mind makes the task of moving on monumentally easier. Studies show that the items you choose to keep around you are more likely to be directly linked to your self-worth—and your self-worth shouldn't be linked to your ex.
Aside from the mental toll of clutter, we just don't need it! We already spend 153 days hunting for lost items in our lifetime. When you take the time to cleanse, clear and purge the physical breakup baggage, you free yourself up emotionally and pave the way for the new.
SH: Are there ever times when it makes sense to hold onto something, even if it reminds you of your ex?
AA: It really is a personal thing. Some people find throwing things out really, really painful. Some of our clients will put all their things from their ex in a box and hide it because they're not quite ready to throw it out entirely. Others will take a leaf out of Marie Kondo's book and thank the item for the joy it's brought as part of a couple and give it permission to live on under their stewardship alone. Others will try a technique we call "overwriting," which is when you take an item—or sometimes a place or a destination—and create new memories with new people, thus overwriting the old memories with new ones.
SH: Is there a way to fall back in love with the movies, music and TV shows that have been "ruined" by their association with an ex?
AA: I think it's best to let them go for a while, and then return to them when you've moved on and feel strong, grounded and confident in who you are as a person, either alone or in a new relationship. The initial pain of a breakup will always fade, and when it does, returning to old music, movies and shows can be a lovely way to reminisce on the past, and how you've grown and developed since.
SH: After a breakup, what's the best way to bounce back and reclaim the things we used to love?
AA: While you should absolutely try to double down on the things that used to bring you joy, you should also take some time to explore new hobbies, interests and activities after a breakup. Go for things that have no associations with your ex, as they'll help you form new patterns, friendships and pathways that'll allow you to move on more quickly. Try a new creative pursuit, a new sport or physical activity that you've always wanted to try, and try to get into an exploratory mindset. Imagine being a tourist in your own city, or learning to cook a new type of cuisine, or taking a new dance class or sketching.
There's a ton of evidence to support the link between creativity and mental wellness. Creativity can lower stress, improve immunity, and even lessen the effect of depression. Not to mention, the power of making things with our hands gives us a sense of control over our surroundings—which is especially good if everything around us feels like it's falling apart. Your old pursuits will always be there, but adding some new stuff into the mix can really accelerate your healing and open new doors, even if they are just welcome distractions at first.
Need to do your own post-relationship cleanse? Click HERE to discover five ways you might change after a breakup.