Whether you were dumped or the one who called it all off, a bad breakup can turn you into a physical and emotional mess. There’s no shame in looking like a sad schlub right after you’ve had your heart broken, but if weeks or even months tick by and you’re still a shell of the man you once were, you’ll need to put in some work. Here are some simple things you can do to pull yourself out of the rut and start looking your best.
Treat yourself to some nice clothes, god damnit. Start by purging the things you don’t wear anymore. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn it in six months, you probably never will — so donate the usable stuff, and downgrade the frayed t-shirts to kitchen rags. It’s also not a bad idea to get rid of the clothes that remind you of your ex — like the sweater you wore the night you first met, or the matching novelty shirts you misguidedly bought together on vacation.
Once you’ve got a clean slate, do some shopping. While retail therapy may feel great, you really don’t need to go overboard to update your look. With a little planning, just a dozen or so items can be mixed and matched into over 100 combinations. (That’s a lot of dates, you newly single guy, you!) And if you’re more of a minimal-effort shopper, try signing up for a monthly subscription box that can deliver curated outfits directly to your door.
Nothing says “fresh start” like a fresh face. Ditch the outdated razor you’ve been using since you swiped right on your ex, and treat yourself to a brand new one. Despite all the newfangled razor hype out there, a quality five-blade is all you need. But there’s a lot more to getting a good shave than just running a razor across your face: Before and after care is essential, and is actually more important than the razor itself. Pre-shave, wash your face with a gentle face cleanser to remove dirt and dead skin cells. Post-shave, you should follow up with a moisturizer with SPF. You’ll immediately see and feel a huge difference in your skin.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, a handy kit like Jack Black’s Classic Shave System has everything you need to keep your face clean, smooth, and irritation free. Or for a commitment-free option, check out the trial kit — it’s only $4. And if you prefer to rock a beard instead, invest in a good beard oil or beard grooming kit to keep your facial follicles clean and your skin healthy.
While we’re on the subject of hair, let’s talk about your head. Put some extra money aside this month and splurge on a visit to a higher-end barber shop or salon (you’re worth it!). I’m talking about a place that’s by-appointment instead of your neighborhood “first come, first serve” shop. The haircutters here are more willing to take the time to map out a new style with you, without the pressure of a million walk-ins waiting in line. Don’t be afraid to try a style that’s a bit out of your comfort zone. And for goodness sake, listen to the stylist’s advice. They can make informed suggestions based on your head shape and how your hair naturally lies. Once you’ve nailed down a style, incorporate some product into your morning hair routine to keep your new ‘do in place.
Getting buff to make your ex jealous as “revenge” is a terribly delusional post-breakup coping mechanism. If you want to drop a few pounds or put on some more muscle, do it because it’s going to make you feel better. Vanity aside, research suggests a link between exercise and fighting depression and anxiety. Plus, your pants will fit a little better to boot. Not everyone has the time to hit the gym every day, so a body weight workout might make sense for you. You can do these exercises — which include push-ups, pull-ups, and squats — at home with minimal equipment. Supplement it all with some good cardio, and you’re golden. Just make sure the fitness goals you set for yourself are realistic and attainable so you stay motivated.
And now we come to the easiest piece of advice, because all it requires is to be unconscious (for the most part). A restful night’s sleep — where you’re maximizing the time you actually spend asleep while minimizing interruptions — can help ward off wrinkles and bags under your eyes. One study even suggests that looking well-rested makes other people want to interact with you more, because over-tired people are a real bummer to be around, I guess. So, how do you actually achieve better sleep? There’s a lot you can do, but here are some basics: Try to go to bed and get up at the same time all week long, not just on the days you have work. Ease into your bedtime by doing some yoga or meditating. And, finally, lay off the electronics, as blue light from phones and tablets will keep you awake longer.
Alright, enough reading! Time to start putting this stuff into practice. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be back to firing on all good-lookin’ cylinders.
Chris Vespoli is an Associate Creative Director for Studio@Gizmodo and a freelance writer/producer. This is his website.