It happens to all of us. A valued relationship ends. It may be a friendship, a marriage, or a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Maybe the relationship ends through death, or divorce, or a messy break-up. Maybe it ends more gradually and one day you wake up and realize you just have nothing in common anymore. Maybe one of you moves away and you lose contact. However it ends, the ending of a treasured relationship can be painful.
Sometimes the pain drives people to spend tons of money. In an effort to avoid the pain and take their minds off their problems, the grieving head to the mall and buy stuff they don’t need. Some people bury their problems in restaurant meals and take out. Others try expensive vacations or spa treatments. While some of it may make you feel better temporarily, the damage to your finances will likely make you feel worse in the end.
It’s not necessary to spend a ton in order to feel better. There are many free and low cost ways to help you deal with the end of a relationship. Here are a few ideas.
Free support groups: You can find free support groups that deal with divorce and death in several places. Churches often offer such groups, or you can find options through your local community or senior centers. These groups give you a chance to talk about your problems, get some free counseling, and meet others who share your feelings. It can give you a place to vent.
Inexpensive outings with friends or family: Although it’s tempting to shut yourself off from the world and wallow in your pain, being with people you care about can really help. Find some inexpensive things to do like a picnic in the park, lunch at a cheap but fun diner, a pot luck dinner and a rented movie, or a visit to a local museum or theater production. Being out with others takes your mind off your trouble and reminds you that life can go on and even be fun. People who love you also offer great support in times of pain.
Books: I used to laugh at the self-help section of the library. It all seemed too fluffy and weird for me. But then I went through some tough times and I found myself browsing the shelves. Turns out, there were some real gems in there. Sure, there was quite a bit of dreck and drivel in there, but there was some good stuff, too. The beauty of a library card is that you can take as many books as you want for free, allowing you to sort through the junk to find the gems.
Exercise: Exercise takes your mind off your problems and is good for you. You don’t want to neglect your health while you’re healing. Exercise gives your brain a chance to turn off and think of other things. It moves your pain into your subconscious where your brain can work on it without exhausting you. The endorphins that are released during exercise make you feel better. Exercise can be inexpensive. A pair of walking shoes and a road is all you need.
Cheap hobbies: While you’re healing, don’t neglect your hobbies. They give you a chance to do something you enjoy. Keep up with existing hobbies or take up a new one. Hobbies can be inexpensive. If you already have a camera you can get started with photography. Paper and pencil is all you need to draw. Reading is free at the library. Think about what you like to do and find inexpensive ways to do it.
Religion/spiritual practice: Whether you practice organized religion or not, you may find some value in taking care of your spiritual side. You don’t have to journey around the world and, “Eat, Pray, Love” to find yourself, either. Church is free. Meditation is free and can be practiced in your own home. Yoga can be learned from books and DVD’s. Simply walking in nature and contemplating your place in the universe is also free.
Learn something new: The middle of a crisis isn’t a bad time to learn something new. You can learn a new language from books and tapes you get at the library. Musical instruments can be learned inexpensively if you rent the instruments or buy used. You can find all sorts of low cost classes at your local community college. Cooking, photography, business skills, or do it yourself skills can all be learned. Pick something you’ve been meaning to learn and work on it. It gives you something to do besides wallow in misery.
Find new friends: You can never exactly replace one relationship with another because every relationship and person is unique. But when a relationship ends, you can look as it as an opportunity to add new people to your life. Go to places where you might meet people you’ll like. Church, classes, hobby groups, or sports leagues are good places to start. Think about what you have an interest in and then find places where like-minded people congregate. When you add new people to your life, you may stop thinking so much about the relationship that ended.
If you’ve tried all the inexpensive options and you’re still having trouble moving on, don’t head for the mall or the restaurants or the travel agent. Look into getting some professional help. Spending big money at the mall won’t help you deal with your problems, but spending money on a therapist just might. Invest your money in something that will yield results, not some mindless accumulation of stuff.