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“A haircut after a breakup is powerful,” Chase Kusero, hairstylist and co-founder of IGK, says. “Yes, cutting your hair is a rush, so I can see why getting a great cut after a breakup can be exciting, but it doesn’t mean it has to be done in a rush.” Her rule: If you still want the cut after a week, then do it

We all know someone who’s gotten a “breakup haircut” after a dramatic split. Whether you’ve gone through the transformation yourself or have been dragged to the salon by a close friend to experience the phenomena first-hand, there’s something about chopping it all off that signals this new freedom.

While there’s no denying that a breakup haircut can feel liberating and transformative, can it actually be beneficial to your mental health? Is there a psychological reason it feels so therapeutic? Turns out, the idea for a cut comes from a common need for a fresh start.

“People sometimes will look for something tangible to demonstrate the closing of a chapter or the beginning of a new one, and your hair is one of the most obvious ways to do it as everyone will notice,” Christie Ferrari, also known as Dr. C, clinical psychologist and blogger, told POPSUGAR. “Who doesn’t want to look their best post-break up?”

Psychotherapist Daryl Appleton, MD, added, “When we change something about our appearance, we tend to attract more attention, either positive or negative. Regardless this reinforcement helps us not only feel seen but also can act as a signal to others that something has changed.”

People have a lot of different coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with the stress of a breakup – taking up a new hobby, shopping for new clothes, hitting the gym more – and changing your hair is just one of them. “When we feel physically or emotionally hurt, it is a natural reaction to want to change or redirect to avoid this pain,” said Dr. Appleton. “Emotional hurt is much harder to change or redirect, so we tend to focus on the more tangible physical changes. It allows for some more immediate release and relief.”

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