You are in love if your crush for someone stays with you longer than 4 months, a psychological study suggests.
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.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” — Anais Nin.
Friends add meaning to our life, they enrich our experiences, bring joy, and share our problems. If there were a fourth need besides food, water, and shelter, we could say it would be the need for human interaction, closeness, and friendships. After all, what if great things happen in your life—you got a new job, a promotion, or fall in love—and there is no one to share the news with? What is the use of getting that new dress, purse, car, or house if there is no one to tell you, “I’m so happy for you!” And what can give you more relief in time of frustration, grief, sadness, or “the blues” than talking to a friend? Our friends are an important part of our lives, and also a necessary part; they are our mirrors, and our sounding boards.
Choosing a friend is not an easy task, for we all had one or two experiences in our life when a person who we thought was our friend let us down. Those lessons were hard to swallow, yet necessary to our inner growth. Later we learned that it is better to be alone than to be in wrong company.
It is of utmost importance to carefully choose the people we will associate with, for they will have great influence on our life. ‘‘Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.’’ (Assyrian proverb). We are the average of the five people closest to us, and that relates to their lifestyle, manners, income, etc. If you make friends with someone who is always looking for an easy way out, tells “white lies,” makes excuses, is envious, sarcastic, and avoids taking responsibility, it is only a matter of time before you start slacking off in those areas and justifying your own behavior as acceptable. Somehow what seemed unthinkable before, will gain a new perspective and become the norm, for if you run with the wolves you too will learn how to howl, and just like a mirror you will start to reflect the behavior of your friends—the good and the bad.
Stop for a moment now, and take a little inventory of the person you are right now compared to the person you were a year or two years ago. What qualities have you adopted from the people you surround yourself with? What character traits, attitudes, vocabulary, even quality of your self-esteem, confidence, acceptance of yourself and others? How did your friends (consciously or unconsciously) influence you in those areas? If the change is positive, and you feel yourself moving toward more, that’s great! How about if the change is negative, slowly but surely getting you down, making you feel that you are less instead of being more?
It is up to you to make the change, for as long as you tolerate mediocrity from others, you too will find mediocrity in your own life acceptable. Know, however, that this will be one of the hardest changes you will have to make, for your friends will not want you to grow. They have spent months or sometimes years getting you to a point where they themselves are, and now they are feeling comfortable with you right there, and it will not be of benefit to them if you should decide to change that. They don’t want you to grow, for the result of your personal growth will be outgrowing them and their comfort zone. At all cost they will want you to stay where they are, where they can continue to influence you and will not have to worry that someday you may become better than them. Their intentions may not even be based on jealousy but rather on fear, so forgive them quickly so you can go on your way to become the person you are meant to be.
Sometimes you have to leave behind those who are not willing to climb the mountain with you, if they refuse to share your vision of personal growth, then they should not try to discourage you in reaching your dream. How will you know what their true intention is for you? Look at their own lives, in which areas have they already reached the success that you are striving for? If they tasted the victory, they will want the same for you, however if their life never left their personal comfort zone they will be eager to share thoughts of fear and discouragement with you. So on your travel to a greater you, only take counsel from those who have already been there. Surround yourself with friends who are models of something instead of experts of nothing, for if you share your problems with someone who is incapable of contributing to a solution dipping in their own life’s experiences, your time and energy is wasted. Oftentimes though, it is those who never did anything who are the first with their ill-fitted advice. Know then, that at those times you can reserve the right that not everyone has the privilege to speak into your life. Instead of wasting your time with those people, invest in some time spending a few hours with people who have ‘‘been there and done that” and came out of it successfully.
It is said that there are three kinds of people in this world:
• Those who watch things happen.
• Those who make things happen.
• Those who wonder “What happened?”.
So let’s make things happen. Start today!
Choose good friendships in your life, the kind of friends who will enrich your life, pull you up when you are down, and push you when you can’t go on by yourself, who will be generous with praise at your successes and eager with encouragement at your struggles, those who will not patronize you to make you feel good for a moment, but those who will tell you the truth and help you get better for a lifetime.
Going through heartbreak can feel like being underwater when you need to breathe. We build our lives with someone we trust and care for, and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s all gone. This can leave people with sorrow, anger, and some serious questions — about ourselves and the future. If you’re dealing with heartbreak and want to heal, try these suggestions to find the new you.
Method 1 of 3: Making Time For Yourself.
1. Give yourself some me time.
You’ve probably been in a relationship for a while, or maybe you’ve been thinking about that person non-stop for months. Now is the time to take a step back, look at your life, and move on to the next challenge. Everyone falls down. It’s how you get back up that defines you.
- Take a weekend to do whatever it is you love most. Whether it’s surfing, hiking, cooking, or simply being around your friends, use the opportunity to surround yourself with happy people and do the things that make you happy.
- Start a journal to record how you feel. Writing things down can be a powerful release. It’s called “catharsis,” where you purify your mind through expression. Write about whatever you want to write about. You’ll feel a lot better after you do.
- Don’t be afraid to feel sad. It’s normal to feel sad. Don’t feel inferior or stupid if you cry or get upset — these things are normal. Going through grief is just another step along the path to recovery. Let yourself grieve.
2. Remove all the memories of the person from your everyday life.
You’re not trying to pretend like the person never existed, just temporarily forget how much they meant to you and how they broke your heart.
- Go through your room and remove all pictures of, letters from, references to the person you’re trying to stop obsessing over. If you have a journal in which you write about the person, begin a completely new one. It’s a symbolic new beginning, but an important one.
- Removing is different from destroying. Don’t burn or destroy any objects associated with the person, unless you’re sure that you never want them to be any part of your life in the future. When you’re old and completely in love with someone who loves you just as much back, the memories will be a record of all that you went through to get to where you are now.
3. Disconnect the person from all the social networks you use.
Nowadays, we have our regular lives and our online lives. Unsubscribe from the person on Facebook, unfollow them on Twitter, and work so that your online network doesn’t remind you of the person who broke your heart.
- If you feel like writing them, create a fake email account (for example, a Gmail account) and send the emails to that account. That way you can put all your hurt and pain into words and get it off your chest, but there is no chance your ex will actually see it.
4. Exercise and eat right.
Go the gym or get outside and sweat. Physical activity increases the amount of serotonin in the brain, which acts like a natural antidepressant, improving your mood. It’s okay to eat ice cream and milkshakes every once in a while (who doesn’t do that?!) but it’s best to continue to eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and water. These will not only make you look fantastic, but feel fantastic as well.
5. Try not to be in the same place as the person, if possible.
This is hard to do, obviously: The other person has probably been an important part of your life for some time, and your body and brain are used to having them around. But giving the other person up, like cold turkey is a good way to tell your body and mind that there are plenty of other people in the world who deserve your attention. Why not give them a chance?
- If you go to school with the person, avoid the person as much as possible. Don’t sit with them at lunch; don’t participate in the same voluntary projects. Take the classes that you finally want to take. As much as possible, make yourself scarce when that person is around.
- Don’t put yourself in situations where you could bump into one another. You know what places the person goes to because you used to share love. If the person loves going to the gym early Saturday, only go during the weekday. If the person loves going to the local farmer’s market, try to go really late or early if you have to go. (Best would be to avoid altogether.)
- Be courteous if/when you bump into the person. There’s no use being mean, angry, and boastful if you run into the person. Say “hi” the way you would to a friend, have a short, impersonal chat, and say goodbye. The best payback that you can give the other person is to live a full, happy, meaningful life without them.
6. Stay optimistic.
This is easier said than done, but whenever you feel yourself being overly negative, dwelling on the past, or just looking at the glass as half-empty, try to snap out of it. Remind yourself of everything you have and how lucky you are.
- Smile as much as possible. It’ll help you feel better and look great. Watch funny movies, read funny books, or hang with funny friends.
Method 2 of 3: Understanding and Forgiving.
1. Figure out what went wrong in your relationship.
Every relationship has its strengths and weaknesses. Figure out what went wrong in your relationship, or what wasn’t so great about the other person. This way you can grow in the future, or look for better traits in your next partner. There are a bunch of things that can normally go wrong in a relationship, but here are just a few:
- I never felt loved/I always felt put down. A relationship is all about love, and if you didn’t feel that in the relationship, that’s a big problem. Your partner doesn’t have to show love the same way that you do, but they should be able to show it somehow. It’s the least you deserve.
- I felt manipulated/used/lied to. Honesty and honest intentions should be a cornerstone of every relationship. True love is doing something for someone else without expecting anything back. Someone who manipulates, uses, or lies is only really looking out for themselves, not you.
- The love just wore off after a little while. The early part of a relationship, when you fall for one another, is when you’re infatuated. This means you’re completely carried away with the person, mainly because they’re new. After a while, this feeling naturally wears off for some. If the other person is no longer in love with you, try to feel lucky for the time you did have.
- I was cheated on. Trust is huge ingredient in a relationship. If you don’t have trust, you’re constantly second-guessing yourself or feeling jealous. If your partner cheated on you, that trust is probably gone. Let someone earn your trust in the future, and pay them back in kind.
2. Don’t obsess over whose fault it was.
You probably have room for growing, too, so try not to pin all the blame on just the other person. Focus on the issues, not the actors.
- For example, if you were part of a manipulative relationship, don’t just say “He manipulated me and I didn’t deserve that.” Instead, tell yourself, “I’m not going to let someone manipulate me the way this person did because I’m going to look out for all the signs in the future.”
- There are probably some things you wish you could change or take back. Focus on fixing those issues for your next relationship. It will give you extra motivation.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you learn from them that defines you as a person. Learn from what went wrong in your last relationship — what caused you to be heartbroken — and make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.
4. Once you’re ready, forgive the other person.
Forgiveness is an important part of healing your broken heart. In order to move on, you need to forgive the other person, or you’ll constantly be thinking about them or wondering why they hurt you.
- Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight. It can take a long time to be able to forgive someone, so be sure you’re actually ready to forgive. Usually, finding someone who truly loves you is a great way to forgive the other person.
- How do you forgive someone? Recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Try to find their intentions, and understand why they were doing what they did. Try putting yourself in their shoes. You don’t have to come up with an answer, but try to come up with an idea.
- You don’t have to tell the other person you forgive them, but it helps. You can forgive them silently in your heart, if that’s the way you want to do it. But you may want to have a friendship with them in the future; telling them you forgive them will make that friendship easier.
5. Don’t argue with the other person.
Sometimes you give the other person a chance to speak their mind, or to talk about an issue that went wrong. We do this to get closure. If you are discussing things with the person who broke your heart, be a little guarded and don’t let the conversation turn into an argument.
- If the person tries to defend what happened in the relationship and gets angry, you can say: “I didn’t come here to argue. I respect you as a person and your opinions, but the time for arguing has passed. If we’re going to continue to talk, let’s talk like adults or not talk at all.”
- Don’t let the other person manipulate you. The other person might try to get you angry or provoke you with something hurtful or mean. Don’t give them the satisfaction of letting it hurt you. Stay calm, collected, and serene.
Method 3 of 3: Turning Your Life Around.
1. Lean on your friends.
Your friends are there to help you, to comfort you when you’re feeling bad, and inspire you to feel good. Deep down, your friends love you. It’s not unreasonable to lean on your friends as you deal with a broken heart. They’re maybe the ones who will help you out of it.
- Do everyday activities with your plans. Plan a movie night by buying tickets in advance. Go to the zoo, to the beach, or out to dinner. Remember the fun you used to have doing all the silly things. Try to recapture that part of your life.
- Have a talk with your best friend about your heartbreak. Confide in them. Give yourself a chance to vent to someone who completely has your back. You’ll feel a whole lot better.
2. Channel your energy into new activities.
What we miss when a relationship ends is that we can’t express our love anymore. We can’t express our excitement to someone who’s interested because they’re interested in you. You can continue this form of heartfelt expression, however, by writing poetry, painting, singing, dancing, etc. Do whatever it takes to allow you to transform your pain into something productive!
- Pick up a new skill. Try doing something you know little about, so it forces you to engage in the world in a different way. Try glass-blowing, ceramics, a new instrument, or cave diving. Be adventurous and open to new possibilities.
- Volunteer. Learn to give back to your community, however big or small it is. Volunteering will help you see the real impact you have on people’s lives, and should show you how fortunate you are to have everything you do.
3. Go on a trip.
It doesn’t need to be far, but it should be far enough to give you a little bit of perspective. The world is such a big, beautiful place; you should take advantage of it. Bring some camping supplies or bunk it with that friend you haven’t seen in a while. A little bit of distance can do wonders for your broken heart.
4. Tap your imagination.
Nothing makes getting over a broken heart harder than feeling trapped. And it may be cheesy or cliché, but your imagination will let you go places you’ve never been and experience things you might never see. Use it. You’ll feel better.
- Read a book every night before you go to sleep. You might never have read books, but nothing moves you outside of yourself better than a book. It will help you heal.
- Fantasize about your future. Leave the person who broke your heart out of it. Fantasize about your career, your home, your family, and your travels. You should feel inspired to realize them. Focus on the potential of the good.
- Stretch your goals. Your goals will give you motivation to get off your butt and do something. Ask yourself, what are my goals? If you don’t have any, make some. Be ambitious and shoot for the stars. You won’t regret failing, but you will regret not trying.
5. Once you feel ready, start dating other people again.
After two or three months, many people feel ready to date again. Be sure you’ve fixed some of the issues you had in your previous relation, and try not to make the same mistake twice!
- If you’re not ready to jump back into a serious relationship, tell the person you’re dating that you just got out of a relationship and want to take things slow. Hopefully, the person understands. If they don’t, they’re not a good fit for you.
- Don’t look for perfection right away. A lot of times, we keep ourselves from entering into relationships because we want to find the perfect man/woman. If you’re looking for Mr/Ms Perfect, you won’t have much luck. Look for someone who’s kind, sharing, funny, smart, and relatable. The rest will take care of itself.
- Don’t be afraid to love. You have to open yourself up to possible heartbreak if you want to love again. But it’s worth it. The love wouldn’t mean as much if it didn’t hurt when it is ripped away. Give your heart to the right person and they’ll reward you infinitely.
6. Remember the two-year rule.
It takes two years to learn a new job, two years to get accustomed to a new town, and two years to completely heal a broken heart. If you expect to be completely healed in a day after a three-year relationship, you could be sorely disappointed. Real results are obtainable when realistic expectations are set.
- Take a moment to lie back and breathe. The stress can block your brain from thinking clearly.
- It really helps if you have good friends who can watch over you and prevent you from doing and/or saying something that you will end up regretting!
- Reflect on all the other types of “love” you have in your life and not on the love you’ve lost.
- Do not go on any dates with the person from whom you are trying to heal. This is not productive and will not lead to healing. There is no more closure. There is only healing. Think of it as cutting a wound open that has stopped bleeding and started closing.
- Show confidence to yourself.
- Stop obsessing over the person!
- Just take a breather. It’s going to hurt for a while. Try not to hook up because it’s just not healthy.
- Focus on you. Do things that make you happy.
- Know that everything happens for a reason; maybe it happened to let you know that you are brave or that you should not repeat the mistake again.
- Think of the bad things that caused the relationship to end rather than the good because it will help you to move on.
- Act happy and confident around that person, so it shows you have moved on!
- Do not have contact with the person you are trying to forget.
- At first it may help you to write down all of the bad things about your ex and re read them when you feel weak. However, after a few weeks you should be writing down all of the great things about yourself and concentrating on that. Then, think about all the great things you can do now.
- For a quick fix in the aftermath of the heartbreak – eat something delicious. Chocolate is the number one heartbreak food because it genuinely helps just that little bit. It doesn’t fix anything but it lifts your spirits a little because chances are they will be crushed on the floor and need all the lifting they can.
- Don’t put the person down to lift yourself up!
- If you need to tell a friend about your heart-breaking loss, do it one time only. You will need your friend later, so best to not wear out your welcome with him/her.
- Find a new friend who is going through the same thing. This allows you to focus on someone else besides yourself.
- Nostalgia will last for a long time after you heal.
- Once you feel comfortable talking to them again, try to build a friendship. Maybe you can start over but it’s not guaranteed.
Being alone can be painful. It can also be blissful. It all depends on your level of personal development in this area. A joyful state when you’re alone is attainable. And it is a very worthwhile pursuit.
Once you learn how to be alone you will no long be chained to the desperate need to keep a person in your life even though the relationship is bad for you. Whether the person is a lover, a marriage partner, a friend, or even a family member what good is it if the relationship brings you pain and lower self-esteem? If you can’t bare the thought of being alone you will always be in a position of weakness in your relationships. However, once you learn how to be alone and truly enjoy it you’ll be able to negotiate your relationships from a position of strength knowing that you can end it and be okay.
We all experience moments of intense loneliness. We initially experience this when we are left alone for the first time as children. As we develop and grow we learn not to fear being alone. Nevertheless, there times when we face feelings of loneliness. These times can be extremely difficult at first.
Transitions in adulthood can bring on powerful feelings of loneliness. When we break up, get a divorce, or a partner dies we are suddenly alone. Before this event, we grew to rely on their companionship. We knew that during almost every evening, weekend, and holiday we would have someone to share it with. The sad feelings that you experience can be the same when a close friendship ends.
If your break up or divorce was preceded by months of tension, the separation might come as a relief initially. After a few nights and weekends alone, however, the relief can turn into desperation about being alone. It is at this point where profound growth is possible. You can use the pain of the break up and the loneliness to move yourself past the sometimes terrifying feelings of facing the future alone! Once you breakthrough and find your strength, which is present in you right now, you’ll experience a whole new world of personal power and freedom.
In the insightful book “Intimate Connections – The Clinically Proven Method for Making Close Friends and Finding a Loving Partner”, Dr. David Burns talks about the importance of learning how to enjoy being alone. He says that a person ability to have healthy relationship is in direct proportion to their ability to be alone.
If a person is comfortable being alone, they are in a position of power and not neediness in a relationship. People who do not have the ability to be alone will be imprisoned if they find themselves in a toxic relationship. You can break free by learning how to be alone and truly enjoy it.
– Surrender to Your Loneliness.
There is something indescribably sweet about surrendering to your loneliness. On that darkest of nights, when you come face to face with yourself, true self-discovery can occur. The quietness and the realization that you are completely alone in a world full of billions of people can be chilling. But once you embrace it and surrender to your aloofness you will begin to grow right there and then. And your growth can be rapid and profound. With each new experience of being alone you will grow stronger. Eventually you will begin to enjoy your own company without a nagging need to be with another person. Once you reach this point, you’ll have the power to choose whether you want to spend a Saturday night alone, with a friend, or with a love interest. Your ability to choose any of these options without any worries empowers you. Then if you do chose to enter into a relationship, you’ll be able to do it from a position of strength, independence, and confidence.
– How Do You Learn How to Be Alone?
Don’t fight being alone by trying to distract yourself. Don’t distract yourself by scheduling all your free time with friends. Don’t distract yourself with over indulgence of food, alcohol, drugs, television, the Internet, or video games. Just be with your loneliness until you come to terms with it. Face it head on! Deal with the feelings that come up. Stay with the discomfort until you find your way to contentment. If you are frightened, move toward your fears until they dissipate. As it is with most fears, you’ll most likely find that what you feared was only an illusion or a misunderstanding.
– Embrace Being Alone.
Embrace being alone by using these periods to get to know yourself on a deeper level. Perhaps on a deeper level than you have in your entire life. You can’t do this by spending a few hours alone. You need much more time. Several weekends or even an entire week’s vacation would provide a great start toward mastery of being alone.
Once you can spend a Saturday night, a weekend, or an entire vacation alone and truly enjoy it, you’ve mastered yourself. You teach yourself how to enjoy your own company by treating yourself like you would a close friend or lover. You look for ways to enjoy, entertain, and please yourself. And yes, I mean the big “M.” There are benefits to learning this art as well, especially for women. Men don’t need any coaxing in this area.
Whenever I refer to the benefits of learning to be alone, I am not only talking about you but also the benefits that your lovers and friends will enjoy. These relationships will benefit because you will be able to participate in them from a position of strength and giving rather than weakness and neediness. If you can’t bare even the thought of being alone you’ll put unhealthy demands on these relationships. You will also sell yourself short because of your inability to enter and maintain these relationships from a position of strength and confidence.
Use periods of being alone to get to know yourself. What do you like to do on a Saturday night? Take yourself out to a fancy dinner. Make yourself a gourmet dinner at home. Have fun! Enjoy your own company. Enjoy your own humor. Laugh at yourself. Do you get the picture?
If you don’t know what you find humorous when no one else is present, find out! If you don’t know what you enjoy to do by yourself, discover it! Make it an adventure! Make it an adventure of self-discovery!
Your goal is to find peace, contentment, and confidence when you are alone whether you are at home, in crowded public space, or at table in a fine restaurant filled with couples on a Saturday night! Once you are comfortable, content, and happy in each of these situations you have mastered the art of being alone. Once this is achieved and you are able to “choose” whether you want to be in a relationship or with other people, your ability to truly love and give without fear or measure will be greatly enhanced.
The word “heartbreak” is bandied about so much we often forget that physical heart pain is a side effect of high-stress events.
Along with depression and loss of appetite, physical heart pain is an actual side effect of high-stress events like the loss of loved ones. The grief from a breakup or death can be so consuming that it’s actually heart wrenching and can have serious consequences for our physical health, too.
The ‘Physical Effects’ of a ‘Broken Heart’:
Anyone who has experienced real heartbreak knows that it’s not just a melodramatic term. The aching, tight feeling that accompanies such sadness is uncomfortable, but usually not disconcerting. However, for people with broken heart syndrome, it feels scarily similar to a heart attack — in fact, most people are diagnosed after being taken to the emergency room.
Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy, is a sudden weakness in the heart muscle due to a severely stressful situation. It has the same symptoms as a heart attack — difficulty breathing, chest pain, and a drop in blood pressure — but while a heart attack permanently damages the heart, broken heart syndrome’s effects are temporary. Also, heart attacks are caused by blocked coronary arteries; people can experience stress cardiomyopathy without existing blockages. This important difference is often how doctors determine one from the other.
In 2005, researchers at John Hopkins University discovered the distinction when they studied the hearts of patients dealing with deaths of family members, car accidents, financial woes, and other anxiety triggers. They postulated that being under such stress causes the brain to release a constant stream of stress hormones like adrenaline into the blood, which makes heart vessels work too hard and reduces pumping strength. However, this is but one theory — doctors are still trying to determine exactly why adrenaline surges affect heart muscle cells the same way that heart attacks do.
The syndrome might be serious like a heart attack, but luckily it’s a temporary condition that can be cleared up in about a week with proper medical care. Mostly people just need time to recover from whatever physical or emotional event shocked their systems enough to cause cardiomyopathy. Even seemingly innocent things like surprise parties and public speaking can spark heart problems; many patients don’t have preexisting heart conditions, so it is difficult to tell who is at risk for the syndrome. For reasons still unknown, it does occur more frequently in women than men, particularly postmenopausal women.
Toxic Relationships Can Be Deadly, Too.
Suffering through a traumatic event like a breakup isn’t the only way to weaken our hearts — staying in a toxic relationship can be just as detrimental. It’s no secret that negative relationships, whether platonic or romantic, can have negative effects on our physical well-being. Emotional stress puts added pressure on our bodies, which weakens our immune systems and increases depressive episodes. In 2007, a study conducted at University College London found that people in bad relationships — characterized by a lack of support and a constant source of stress — had a 34 percent higher chance of having heart problems in the future compared to those in positive couplings.
The study followed 8,000 subjects, initially heart disease free, over a twelve-year period. At the end of the study, 589 people had developed heart disease and those who previously reported relationship strife, especially the ones who felt that talking with their companions about problems made things even worse, had a higher occurrence of the disease. We’ve always known that fighting with loved ones is a sure source of heartache, and now we know it’s a potential contributor to heart disease as well.
Our Loved Ones’ Deaths Can Lead to Our Own.
Grief over someone’s death, particularly when it’s someone as close as a mother or father, can be debilitating and excruciatingly painful. Depression and weight loss often stem from such loss, but now there’s evidence suggesting that it can even result in death. A 2008 study led by Ivan Mendoza, MD found that in 102 reported cases of sudden death, thirteen of them happened on the anniversary of the day that their parents died. Out of this group, one third of them died around the same age that their parents did. But unlike broken heart syndrome, sudden death resulting from grief occurred more among men than women in this study and the majority of cases had underlying coronary heart disease.
This isn’t the first time that grief and death have been linked. A psychiatrist named George L. Engel wrote a paper in 1971 detailing numerous cases of people who died soon after a loved one. We’ve all heard similar tales of people dying unexpectedly just a few weeks or months after their partners, as if they couldn’t imagine going on without them.
We’re inundated with the different habits we should adopt to keep our hearts in tip-top shape, like eating well and exercising, but getting out of bad relationships and dealing with loss in healthy ways aren’t usually on those lists — even though they can potentially cause physiologic harm. Perhaps as more studies like these come out, people will realize just how important it is to strive for emotional as well as physical well-being. They’re inextricably connected, even if more significance is put on one over the other. The effects of a breakup or death can be crippling and we should recognize that. Metaphorical heartbreak is painful enough as it is.