- Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
- Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore divorced in 2013.
- After the divorce, Kutcher went alone into the mountains and fasted for a week.
- That might not be the best strategy to get over a breakup because it gives you lots of time to brood, and not many distractions.
Right after his divorce from Demi Moore in 2013, Ashton Kutcher took off for the mountains.
All he had with him were water, tea, a pen, and a notepad.
“I started hallucinating on like day two, which was fantastic,” Kutcher told Dax Shepard on an episode of Shepard’s podcast, “Armchair Expert.” “I was doing tai chi with my own energy.”
The post-divorce fast wasn’t the first time Kutcher had experimented with alternative diets. While preparing to play Steve Jobs in the movie “Jobs,” Kutcher copied Jobs’ fruitarian diet for one month, meaning he ate fruit almost exclusively. Kutcher wound up in the hospital.
This time, hallucinations aside, Kutcher appeared to steer clear of the emergency ward. But it’s unclear whether a solo retreat into the mountains – or the potentially more realistic week-living-on-your-couch – is the best way to recover after the end of a relationship.
We can’t speculate beyond what Kutcher’s said about his trek into the mountains, and everyone heals differently. But it’s possible that isolating yourself completely the way Kutcher did would give you too much time and space to brood, and too few distractions.
Psychologist Melanie Greenberg writes in a blog post for Psychology Today that people getting over a breakup should “interrupt cycles of obsessive thinking and rumination. You may want to imagine a big red STOP sign when you start doing it, but don’t sit around moping about your ex.”
And writer Katie Bogen, who experimented with multiple strategies to get over her own breakup, writes in Vox that reconnecting with friends was the single most effective way to feel better after her breakup – with investing all her energy in her work and career tended to be helpful, too.
Indeed, research suggests that brooding, in the form of simply journaling about your emotions surrounding the breakup, can make you feel worse – unless you’re specifically writing about finding a silver lining in the experience.
Sometimes just trying to make yourself feel better after a breakup works
All that said, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that, if you think a specific technique will help you feel better after a rough breakup, it probably will.
In that particular study, participants who used nasal spray and were told it would reduce their emotional pain indeed showed changes in their brain and reported feeling better. (In reality, the spray was a simple saline solution.)
Kutcher also used the solo time in the mountains to reflect on other relationships besides his marriage to Moore. He told Shepard that he wrote letters to every single person he’d been in a relationship with “where I felt like there was some grudge, some regret, some anything.”
On the last day of the trip, he typed up the letters and sent them all. “It was like an AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] exercise,” Kutcher said.