How can something so painful be a normal life experience?
And yet, we've all been there in one way or another. Whether it's from someone you love passing away, a breakup, estrangement from a family member, or even a friendship bust-up, we all know: heartbreak HURTS like hell.
Heartbreak can have both emotional and physical effects. Here are some ways in which heartbreak can manifest physically:
- Stress response: When we experience heartbreak, our body's stress response is activated. This leads to the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can have physical effects on our body. These hormones can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
- Sleep disturbances: Heartbreak can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep disturbances can result in fatigue, decreased energy levels, and difficulties with concentration and focus.
- Appetite and digestive changes: Some individuals may experience changes in appetite due to heartbreak. It can manifest as a loss of appetite, leading to weight loss, or emotional eating, resulting in weight gain. Additionally, stress hormones can affect the digestive system, leading to symptoms such as nausea, stomachaches, or changes in bowel movements.
- Weakened immune system: Prolonged stress and emotional distress from heartbreak can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
- Physical pain and tension: Heartbreak can be accompanied by physical pain, such as chest tightness, headaches, or body aches. The emotional pain experienced during heartbreak can manifest physically as well.
- Fatigue and low energy: Heartbreak can drain an individual's energy and lead to feelings of fatigue. Emotional distress and disrupted sleep patterns can contribute to this sense of low energy and exhaustion.
- Impact on cardiovascular health: Prolonged stress and emotional turmoil can have implications for cardiovascular health. Increased heart rate and blood pressure during the stress response can put additional strain on the heart and blood vessels.
The physical effects of heartbreak can vary from person to person. If you're experiencing severe physical symptoms or if they persist for an extended period, it's a good idea to talk to your GP to make sure nothing else is going on.
DEALING WITH HEARTBREAK:
Dealing with heartbreak can be a challenging and painful experience. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, here are some strategies that may help you navigate through this difficult time:
Allow yourself to grieve: It's important to acknowledge and accept your emotions. Give yourself permission to feel sad, angry, or hurt. Allow yourself to cry and let your feelings out.
Seek support: Reach out to your friends, family, or a support network. Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can provide comfort and perspective.
Take care of yourself physically: Engage in activities that promote physical well-being. Eat nutritious meals, get regular exercise, and prioritize sleep. Taking care of your physical health can have a positive impact on your emotional well-being.
Practice self-compassion: Be kind and understanding toward yourself. Avoid self-blame or dwelling on what could have been done differently. Remind yourself that healing takes time and that it's okay to feel the way you do.
Engage in self-care activities: Focus on activities that bring you joy and help you relax. This can include hobbies, spending time in nature, reading, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or indulging in a favorite pastime.
Set boundaries: If necessary, establish boundaries to protect yourself from further pain. This might include limiting contact with your ex-partner, unfollowing them on social media, or avoiding places that remind you of them.
Embrace personal growth: Heartbreak can be an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. The change heartbreak involves will require you to set new goals, work out what YOU are interested in, believe in and like to do, and discover more about yourself. Consider engaging in activities that promote self-improvement or pursuing new hobbies and passions.
Focus on the future: While it's important to acknowledge your feelings, try not to dwell on the past. Instead, shift your focus toward the future and the possibilities it holds. Set new goals, make plans, and remind yourself that this heartbreak does not define your entire life.
Practice patience: Healing from heartbreak takes TIME, and it's important to be patient with yourself. Understand that the process is not linear, and you may have good and bad days. Trust that, with time, the pain will lessen and you will begin to heal.
If you find that you're unable to cope with your emotions, experiencing prolonged distress, or are struggling with your daily functioning, its worth seeking professional support. There are so many beautiful counsellors, psychotherapists, social workers, OTs and psychologists out there ready to help.
Remember, everyone's healing process is unique, so be REALLLLLLY gentle with yourself and allow yourself the time and space you need to heal.
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