Affordable activities to soothe a heartbreak as a student in London

Not breaking the bank, or your heart

I had big plans for 2023. Breaking up with my long-term boyfriend this January was not on my agenda. Frankly, it’s been shit. The downward spiral since then has included questioning the life plan I had drawn up with this person and re-shifting our priorities to focus solely on myself. A breakup can knock your independence, confidence and certainty regarding future plans. This is exactly why soothing self-care days and solo dates are going to get you (and me) back on the road to recovery.

So, this is a PSA to all those who might be affected by mercury retrograde coming around the corner… which basically means breakup season. This is the guide to our healing era. Go make those Pinterest boards, get that nose piercing you’ve always wanted, and embrace Gracie Abrams’ new album – sis knew we needed it.

I began my hot girl single era in the big city on a student budget, prioritising solo dates. Yes, you can take yourself out for dinner without it being weird. In fact, this is an essential part of adulthood (also a practical tip when your long-distance ex-boyfriend was too far away).

Hot girl walks

Take yourself on a walk and get a chai latte pick-me-up.  You need to make time for yourself again; embrace that being able to simply go out on your own and sit in your own company is a beautiful thing. My most precious solo date is in fact a day like this: putting your headphones on, wrapping up in a big coat, stepping out, and walking around the city.

At uni, even before my breakup, I often would neglect my solo, self-care days and would choose to spend this time with friends instead. Friendships are important. But your relationship and your friendship with yourself are just as significant. It’s all about finding a balance between the two.

So, on these solo dates, I have been to all of London’s parks – St James’s Park being my favourite. I have taken a book and I have sat and read, reminding myself that I have hours to do so and no boy can tell me otherwise. In parks, you can do a lot of people-watching – and no, I’m not getting sad about couples walking by holding hands. I’m actually thinking, wow I am so proud of myself. First of all, relationships, ew. But secondly, I am able to sit here in my own company and feel completely fulfilled.

Adore your own company

That’s the key ladies, it’s your own personal fulfilment. Feeling so comfortable in yourself, your own energy and beauty. Perhaps those couples, the families, the friends, and whoever else you see, are secure in spending time alone – but also, they might not be. I almost smile and feel motivated when I see another girl like myself, browsing the books in Foyles alone, or like now, sitting across from me in the coffee shop, typing away like myself. It makes me think, I can do this.

An upcoming solo date in the calendar is a Maisie Peters concert in Hammersmith – very much in the midst of exams, (thank you King’s), but I am so unbelievably excited. My bravery to go to a concert on my own – gasp – but I so rate myself for it. The ticket was only £30, so not too spenny. I have very high expectations set for the evening.

Pamper queen

Another one of my favourite solo dates is setting up my own pamper self-care day. For me, this involves going to Boots and picking myself up a Garnier moisture boost sheet mask (life-changing) and then popping into Tesco and getting my favourite snacks. No gym and no uni work is to be done on this day. And no, we are not wallowing, we are simply giving ourselves a bit of love and care that we do not need to receive from any romantic partner.

Male validation and everything else are out of the window. We are looking good for ourselves and ourselves only. And maybe I like a compliment or two from my friends, because I value their opinion more than any man, but the only way you are going to heal is by validating yourself.

However, finding respite and recovering with the help of my friends has desperately got me through. And the reason why these are such amazing friends is that they are encouraging of this independent time for myself, whilst also reaching out to spend time together. Have I gone a bit feral in the past weekends post-breakup? Yes. But I have had so much fun with my friends and it’s been a blast. One nightmare did include having my phone stolen, but I have learnt my lesson.

Lean on your friends

I also feel that post-breakup, I have this overwhelming and bursting love for the friends I have. And as much as we have all enjoyed going out at the weekends and accepting far too many jager bombs from guys in the club, the most precious memories for me have been the study dates in the library, or the making dinners together at home, and gossiping in our rooms until 1am. They have all been there for me when I have laughed till I’ve cried, made my single girl vision boards, bought every “How to deal with heartbreak” self-care book under the sun, and held my hand through it all.

One thing that this whole experience has taught me is that it’s so ok to be on your own. Something recently I saw that has really resonated with me said, “It’s ok if you move on not to find somebody else, but to find yourself.” Loneliness should not be characterised by your relationship status. In fact, it shouldn’t even be a factor.

In the past, I was scared at the thought of my (old) relationship ending one day. I truly thought it would be the end of the world. But you know when people say things like, “Well, you dodged a bullet there”, or “It’s a blessing in disguise” – they weren’t wrong. I didn’t believe it at first, but it’s had such a presence. These past months I have grown so much in ways that I honestly don’t think I would of whilst being in that relationship.

So, looking to the future, please girls, don’t plan your life around one person again, unless that person is you.

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