Tag Archives: Heartache

Dumped? How To Heal The Health Effects Of A Broken Heart?

Romantic rejection can manifest in various forms of physical anguish, researchers find.

Got a stomach ache? A headache? Insomnia? Your health issues may be related to your recent romantic rejection.

When 23-year old Emmie Scott, a direct marketer in Richmond, Va., and her boyfriend/co-worker broke up and still had to endure seeing each other daily, Scott suffered a broken heart—literally. “The most uncomfortable symptom I experienced is the sensation that someone was sitting on my chest—a combination of both pain and pressure that’s left more than one of my friends commenting that my heart must actually be broken.”

Researchers now understand that romantic rejection triggers change in our brains that affect our health. Edward Smith, a Columbia University psychologist, and a team of colleagues found that intense emotional pain can activate the same neural pathways as physical pain. Seems being jilted can hurt in a primitive physical way as if you’ve been sucker-punched by a welterweight.

What’s more, that physical pain can manifest in surprising ways. Aside from chest pain, you may get hit with a kick-butt cold or flu, develop insomnia, or a range of gastro symptoms from loss of appetite to diarrhea. The precise health wallop you suffer may have to do with how your body manifests stress. Asthmatic? You could have an asthma attack. Suffer from a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis? Your skin will likely flare up. Have irritable bowel syndrome? Prepare to hit the restroom.

“While in college I found out my boyfriend (and high school sweetheart) was cheating on me. Although only 110 pounds, I dropped almost 15 and broke out with a case of shingles, which required a week of prednisone to calm,” says Christina Stoever Young, 40, producer of a historic haunted walking tour in Truckee, Calif.

Here, the top health complaints stemming from heartache:

• Complaint: Heart pressure or pain, palpitations, abnormal heart rhythms.

Why: When the stress response is triggered by a breakup or divorce, the body sends out a massive flooding of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. “Anytime your adrenaline levels are higher, you’re more vulnerable to faster heart rate, palpitations, and certain arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, as well as skipped beats, lightheadedness, feeling your chest pounding, and a fluttering feeling in your neck,” says Dr. John M. Kennedy, a Marina Del Ray cardiologist and co-author of “The 15 Minute Heart Cure: The Natural Way to Release Stress and Heal Your Heart in Just Minutes a Day.”

Women heart patients facing severe stress from marriage difficulties were found to have three times the risk of heart attack as women without such stress. Worse, there’s a syndrome that mimics heart attack called Takotsuba syndrome, or broken heart syndrome, in which an EKG, chest X-ray, and blood work all indicate a heart attack. But when a cardiologist goes inside the heart searching for the culprit blocked artery, the arteries are wide open. The stress response simulates heart attack symptoms. “A broken heart syndrome is an extreme form of what heartache can do to our bodies,” says Kennedy. While it can be lethal, the heart muscle usually recovers within six months.

What helps: Anything that relieves stress helps prevent these heart problems during relationship troubles: exercise, yoga, meditation, relaxing through breathing or visualization, even short term anti-anxiety medication.

• Complaint: Cold or flu.

Why: These same stress hormones torch your immune system leaving you vulnerable to rogue bacteria and viruses. “Normally when you’re confronted with bacteria or virus, your body will mount a defense,” says Dr. Valerie Scott, a board certified family doctor in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Post break up, however, your immune system is weakened and those defenses aren’t unable to ward off illness.

What helps: Managing your stress improves your immune system. Exercise, eat well, take a multi-vitamin, especially the B-complex vitamins, which boost immunity, rest enough and decompress with music, comedy or friends to counteract the flood of stress hormones.

• Complaint: Gastro upset (stomach pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea,).

Why: The excess cortisol shooting into your system during your break up diverts blood away from your digestive track, leaving you with GI unpleasantness–that ‘can’t eat for weeks, sour stomach, run to the bathroom feeling you get when your relationship tanks.

What helps: Try over-the-counter meds for your queasy stomach. In one study, researchers simulated rejection in the lab and found that aspirin alleviates the painful feelings triggered by being rebuffed. While it seems skeptical, it’s worth a try, as is curbing your desire to veg on the couch. Exercise prompts your brain to release uplifting endorphins that will settle your stomach. What’s more, misery loves company. “You want to surround yourself with family and friends and supportive people because it’s easy to get depressed,” says Kennedy, which may worsen symptoms. Camaraderie can stimulate a much-needed dose of missing oxytocin, a feel-contented hormone.

• Complaint: Insomnia.

Why: Sleeping patterns, not unlike eating patterns, become skewed during relationship demise. Some people want to stay in bed all day — while others can’t seem to sleep at all. Science really doesn’t understand why it happens, but it’s likely due to racing thoughts, the ‘he-said, she-said’ reenactment of the break up plays out mentally while at rest. Plus, stress hormones, still at their peak, may wreck your circadian rhythms and internal clock.

What helps: Stay active enough so your body will reach the reparative deep levels of sleep it needs, but don’t push yourself to exhaustion, which backfires. Exercise, but avoid it after 9 pm, since it could cause insomnia. Skip caffeine after 3 in the afternoon for the same reason. Turn off TV, computer and cell phone at least an hour before bed and embrace a relaxing sleep routine: low lighting, candles, and a warm bath. “Once you calm that stress response, all of these medical things resolve and get better,” says Scott.

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How To Deal With Being Dumped?

When your significant other ends the relationship, it can be a painful, lonely experience that makes you feel worthless and leaves you with a broken heart. Though it may not feel like you can get through this heartache, there are ways to cope that will see you through to the other side with a different perspective.

  1. Don’t hold out hope for a reunion. The sooner you accept that it is over, the faster you can heal. By hoping that your significant other will want you back, you are basically elongating the grief and setting yourself up for more disappointment. Too many times, a person will hold out for a reconciliation, only to find out that her significant other has started dating someone else. This type of situation only causes more pain and grief.
  2. Allow yourself to get emotional. It is never good for you to bottle up your emotions. If you are upset, have a good cry. If you are angry about the breakup, then show it (but don’t let your anger get the best of you by hurting yourself or others; instead, just scream or punch your pillow). You’d be surprised by how much better you can feel by releasing these emotions. Designate a time and place for this — but don’t let yourself emote 24/7 because you don’t want to end up drained either.
  3. Get rid of things that belong to or remind you of your ex. By doing this, you eliminate those things in your life that only make you think about your ex. The more you think about him/her, the more likely you are to think about the breakup and dwell on the pain you are feeling. If you can’t bear to part with these items — then put them into storage.
  4. Avoid contact with your ex. This basically falls on the same lines as getting rid of things that remind you of your ex. If after you have broken up you constantly call, talk to, or see your ex, it will only serve as a reminder of the failed relationship and cause you undue grief. So, try to have as little contact as possible with your ex. It may help you get over the loss.
  5. Make a list of things you didn’t like about your ex. This is a helpful method for folks who are finding it difficult to get over the end of a relationship. Jot down aspects about your ex that you didn’t like; such as habits, physical attributes, or personality features. The idea is to focus on the things you didn’t like and no longer have to deal with in order to better cope with the breakup. You may find that you feel a bit relieved that your ex is no longer around.
  6. Hang out with and talk to your friends. Your friends can be a wealth of moral support and can help you take your mind off the breakup. Have a powwow with some buddies and talk about your relationship woes. Round up some of your friends and go do something fun. You can have dinner, go on a shopping spree, take a weekend road trip, or whatever you consider a fun distraction.
  7. Stay busy. While you should deal with the issue, dwelling on the breakup may only just make you feel worse about the situation. If you find yourself thinking about it, then do something that will focus your mind on something else. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to turn into a workaholic. Simply putting a little extra effort into your work or taking up a new hobby should suffice.
  8. Go on a couple of dates when you’re ready. A common misconception when a person has been dumped is that they feel as though they won’t find someone else, which just isn’t true. Go on some dates. Not only can this prove to you that you can eventually find someone new, but it can also help you get over your ex and boost your ego. Just make sure that the dates remain casual for companionship only at this time.
  9. Don’t jump into another relationship. If you haven’t fully healed from the breakup, you may find yourself in an even worse relationship than the last. Rebound relationships hold a higher risk of someone getting hurt. Examples of such would be finding out that you aren’t as interested in the new person while he/she is completely into you, or being dumped again because you constantly talk about or compare the new person to your ex because you haven’t fully gotten over the breakup.
  10. Build up your ego. Being dumped can be a hit to the ego. You may begin to think that you were dumped because of something about you (e.g., I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t pretty enough). Much of the time this is an incorrect assumption, so take the time to do activities that make you feel better about yourself and boost your ego. Go out and talk with some folks, start exercising or learn something new.
  11. It’s not uncommon for people to stop taking care of themselves after a relationship has ended. You may find that you aren’t sleeping as much or eating enough. Some folks may even start becoming more self-destructive by drinking alcohol more frequently, overeating or engaging in careless sexual activity. By doing these things, you may find your health declining, hurt yourself or others, or find yourself in a world of regret. Always make sure that you take care of yourself. Just because you are no longer in a relationship doesn’t mean you are any less important.

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6 Phrases That Will Help You Get Over A Breakup

Part of me can hardly remember the pain and agony that I suffered during my worst breakup. It’s only now that my best friend and I can finally giggle about our outrageous grieving mechanisms and the torture we put ourselves through for boys that didn’t deserve it.

The other part of me remembers every excruciating detail of feeling lonely and crying myself to sleep. And of course that awful fatalistic feeling that it was always going to be like this… forever.

I wrote a guide on “how to want to get over a breakup” about a year ago, and I was overwhelmed by the emails and comments I got from many of my readers who empathized with me. So many of you have personally written to me and shared with me your own stories of heartache and pain. I have been absolutely touched and thankful to you all.

As I read through your letters, I recognize that there is still so much pain and regret that overcomes us during a breakup – and we mistakenly try to rush the healing process. But keep in mind that there is no time limit. And the amount of time it takes to get back to feeling normal varies from person to person – yes, you are a special little butterfly.

And while, I do hope that my breakup survival tips are helping, I also want to share with you a few more insights that may help keep you sane throughout your recovery.

If you are ever going through a breakup, a rough time, or just need a pick me up, these are 6 phrases you must tell yourself on repeat:

1. “I love myself” – Cheese ball. I know. But it works, especially if you believe it. According to me, self-love is important, “because ultimately we are the ones responsible for our actions, choices, and the outcome of those actions and choices. We cannot give to someone else what we don’t have, and likewise we cannot get from someone else what he or she doesn’t have.” If you love yourself, you will be the master of your feelings, not some idiot that broke your heart through a text message.

2. “I want to be happy” – Seriously, do you? This seems like a dumb question – of course, I want to be happy, who doesn’t? The problem is, a lot of the time, I actually don’t. I let small things frustrate me. I have an extremely short temper, and I get mad at the most trivial matters. Why? It’s because I forget (or maybe don’t want) to be happy in that moment. Maybe I want to be angry or upset, so I have to remind myself that I want to be happy, and then I will force a fake smile, until it turns into a real one. It even turns out that a fake smile is better than no smile. Researchers at the University of Kansas recently discovered that holding your mouth in a smiling position could help lower a person’s heart rate after stressful situations.

3. “I always hated his dumb hair cut” – Remember that annoying thing about him that always bothered you, but you never admitted it to yourself, because you were madly in love? Well, it’s time to spill all the dirt. Take off your love goggles and tell yourself what you really saw in him. Even if it’s something as tiny as – I hated his toe nails – embrace it. Doing so will help you realize that your ex wasn’t as fabulous or perfect as they seemed and it will help you heal faster. In fact, a study in Cognition and Emotions found that those who “indicated strong negative feelings about their ex in the immediate aftermath of the breakup were less likely to be depressed.”

4. “I am better off without him or her, because…” – Quick! Finish the sentence. For me, it was: I am better off without him because now I can finally eat blueberries! At the time, my ex had a terrible allergy to the fruit (which just happened to be one of my favorites). He wouldn’t kiss me or come near me if I had eaten anything strawberry flavored, so eventually, I stopped eating them too. The first thing I did after our breakup was devour a pint of blueberries. Obviously, my heart still hurt, but I let myself enjoy something that I hadn’t been able to do when we were together. And while that was something little, it kind of felt pretty good. And during a breakup, that’s the one feeling you should be constantly striving for.

5. “It has been x days since we broke up, and I feel…” Here’s another fill in the blank for you. You can say whatever you like – just be truthful. If you’d rather write it down in a journal, that’s okay too. The reason I like this phrase is that it keeps you present in the current moment and lets you feel whatever it is you need to feel. Eventually, one day will turn into 30 days, and you will notice a difference. You may still be sad and heartbroken, but the degree to which you feel it will change and you will be able to recognize your progress. Life Coach Patrick Schriel writes: “I use my feelings, my intuition, as a guiding system. If something doesn’t feel right to me I won’t do it. If the feeling is right, I will.” He says feelings are often truer than thoughts or beliefs and can often lead to “real moments of insight and can be the beginning of change.”

6. “I will find someone better” – These words may be the most difficult to utter, especially if you believed that your ex was “the one” or your soul mate. Trust me, we’ve all been there. And because this phrase is so hard to say, it is, in fact, the most crucial. Let me tell you something that you may not want to hear: You will meet someone better – it is inevitable. You will meet someone else who will treat you well, be kind to you, love you, and most important of all, not break your heart.

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Moving On From Disappointment: Are you focused on the person, or on the bigger picture of your life?

When you struggle to let go of someone, there can be sustained periods of rumination and in essence, stewing in what you feel is a rejection of you. If there’s been a series of disappointments, you’ve likely lost sight of you and your values, which means you don’t have the perspective that’s so needed to handle and manage the inevitable disappointments that arise in life.

Whether it’s for a date that didn’t happen, dates that didn’t progress, feelings that weren’t reciprocated, your relationship not working out, or even discovering that someone isn’t what you thought they were, you become fixated on this person (or even a series of people that you thought were “it”) fulfilling your hopes and dreams.

By focusing on the person instead of on the bigger picture of your hopes and expectations, you lose hope because the disappointment leaves you feeling like there’s no point in bothering and your ‘last chance saloon’ has gone.

This person isn’t the only way that you could have your hopes and expectations for a relationship fulfilled though, plus just because they don’t or didn’t fulfil them, doesn’t mean any and all hopes for a relationship are over.

When you struggle to get over the disappointment, it’s because you were over-invested in the potential, ‘vision’, and ultimately the hopes, plans, and outcome that you had set your mind and heart on.

If you’ve been invested in various people and the hopes and expectations you had for a relationship have to adjust due to practical factors, the disappointment is natural and to be expected, but you have to work your way through these feelings to acceptance so that you can create new hopes and expectations.

To continue to immerse yourself in disappointment like a vocation, raking over your past and ruminating on all of the things you ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda done if only’, creates self-rejection and ultimately regret, because as time passes and your outlook and what you’re doing hasn’t changed, that’s what you’ll come to regret – not the various things you’ve been through that brought you to this juncture but the stubbornness you used to lash yourself with and stop you from moving forward.

The disappointment, regret, and rejection is tied up in the idea that what you hope and want in your life is gone and over.

What do you want? This is where your focus should be – on the bigger picture of your values so that you can focus your actions on living congruently with them, not on a person outside of your control. Your purpose in life isn’t to have someone rescue you and make your life ‘better’ – if it doesn’t work out, it’s like returning to the life you didn’t want.

Wherever there’s disappointment and a sense of feeling rejected, you can be assured that there are illusions, giving you an inaccurate, if not downright distorted view of reality. It’s letting go of these that give you the much needed perspective and freedom.

What are you stuck on? List them all, don’t hold back. What is it about this disappointment that you keep returning to?

You wouldn’t be disappointed if what you claim things ‘should’ be was real because you’d be living it.

Walk your way through the relationship and work out where you got the illusions from.

Where did it start?

  • Did they say or do something? Did you?
  • What specific thoughts have you had that led you to this idea?
  • The things that you believed them to be, why did you believe it? Was it based on evidence? Was it brief? Was it based on ideas that you carried into the relationship that may be based on someone else they remind you of or unhealthy/unrealistic beliefs? List examples and the longer you were together, the more you should see of this.

What is the cause of the actual disappointment?

So for example, when someone doesn’t follow through with a date, is it because:

  • You’re disappointed because you misjudged them?
  • They seemed so nice and you were looking forward to it?
  • You hoped that this might be ‘it’ and you could be ‘done’ with dating?
  • You’re disappointed because you assume that you must have said or done something to put them off?
  • You compromised yourself and it still didn’t pay off?
  • You banked on this being the one that would make all of the previous heartache worthwhile and right the wrongs of the past?

For a relationship, it might be that you’re shouldering all of the blame for it not working out, so yeah, you’re bound to be disappointed, just unnecessarily so.

Taking a bigger picture view, this person cannot meet your expectations. They haven’t – it’s why you’re disappointed. They haven’t – that’s about them, not you. Don’t make everything about you – it will compound your hurt.

The facts say that they cannot meet your expectations – it’s holding onto the illusions that they can or could have if only X/Y/Z had happened, which normally boils down to, if you had changed, if you hadn’t breathed or put a foot wrong, if you had got them to change, or if you lived in a fantasy world, that’s disappointing you.

Let me say it again – it’s holding onto the illusions that they can or could have fulfilled your hopes and expectations and that your projected future could, would and should have happened, that’s disappointing you. The tighter you hold on, the more you revisit it – it’s like experiencing the disappointment over and over and over again. It gets even worse if you continue to lie to yourself about them while in the meantime, they behave like a jackass in the present completely contradicting you anyway.

Disappointment and rejection paves the way to new and ultimately better opportunities, if you don’t spend months or even years avoiding admitting a mistake or accepting that it’s over. The length and depth of the avoidance is what causes a ‘setback’.

You can release and grow if you make the connection between relationship insanity – carrying the same baggage, beliefs, and behaviors while choosing same type, different person (or variations of your type), and then expecting a different result – and disappointment.

Relationships serve to teach us about ourselves – the same lessons will keep coming back at you like Michael Myers in Halloween until you heed and learn from them.

Persisting in relationship insanity, means you’ll continue to be disappointed.

Even if you do the whole long shot mentality thing and go with the safe option of unavailable relationships so you can avoid ‘rejection rejection’, you will be disappointed even though it’s ‘expected’.

Your life and your repetitive choices are telling you that you need to adapt your thinking and your habits in order to start fulfilling your hopes and expectations for your life.

Lessen disappointment by living in line with your values so that you can be authentic. You will compound the disappointment if you deviate from them due to the attachment to the idea of this particular person being the ‘key’ to your life – you figure it’ll be worth the risk and then feel embarrassed or even ashamed when it’s not.

If you stay on a Bullshit Diet, it also means that you don’t hear what you want to hear, see what you want to see, and create meaning where there is none. You’ll communicate your expectations, thoughts and concerns – some people don’t do this for fear of disappointment. Then they get disappointed anyway and wish they’d spoken up.

Don’t try to be a perfectionist or the exception to the rule of shady behaviour – these create unrealistic goals while giving you a realistic but unwanted outcome; pain.

Like conflict, fear, and rejection, disappointment is unavoidable but you don’t have to let it claim you and you certainly shouldn’t use it to make judgement’s about yourself that leave you with eroded self-esteem. Let the disappointment go – forgive you and be kind to you because aside from nurturing you, it means you won’t disappoint you by not being on your side.

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