How Heartbreak Affects Your Body
In every relationship we go through good and bad parts, joy and pain. Over the course of a lifetime it seems not many of us will escape heartbreak, in one form or another.
Sometimes extreme events happen in life, causing an avalanche of emotions, yet many would argue that nothing is worse than a broken heart. It can feel as if your whole body is shattered beyond repair.
If you have ever had your heart broken through a divorce or breakup, infidelity, or the loss of a loved one, you know exactly what it’s about… how it feels… and this article is likely to resonate.
In some ways, heartbreak is all around us. We have triumphs and trials involving an ex, a current relationship in the midst of a rough patch, strong feelings for someone who does not feel the same, and these can all end in sadness. Although we know we’ll heal in time, many of us are walking around in a wounded state.
But did you know these wounds can affect and harm the physical body, as well as the mental and emotional parts of us?
Yes, your physical health is at stake if you are experiencing heartache. If you want to protect your heart health while going through a lost love or a grieving process, it is important to understand the physical, and very real effects of heartbreak on your body. (5,6,7,9)
A broken heart, on an emotional level, can lead to a broken heart on a physical one. When love is going in a downward spiral, it’s important to double down on looking after yourself and your wellbeing. (1,5)
The Pain Of Heartache
There is a reason why it is called heartbreak. It can cause a physical response, such as chest pain, if a person is under intense emotional stress.
Emotions, like anxiety, grief, and anger can trigger strange, new, and sometimes painful physical feelings, like actual heartache, and other physical pain. It’s typically referred to as “broken heart syndrome.”
Current Direction in Psychological Sciences has stated in its research that the brain uses the same region to process physical aches as well as the pain associated with heartbreak. This can result in physical aches and pains, heart palpitations, and more. (7,8)
3 Ways A Broken Heart Affects Your Body And Overall Health
With all the emotional turmoil involved in a painful experience such as a broken heart, it’s important to consider our physical body also – how it responds to hurt.
The storms in our lives have a way of bringing up our unique love issues, and to further complicate matters, heartbreak can truly inhabit our bodies:
#1 Heartbreak And Weight Changes
Bingeing on food to fill the gap left by the loss of a loved one, or any kind of heartbreak we experience, is one of the common ways people deal with it. You may have seen characters in movies doing this to get temporary comfort, experience a ‘different’ type of love, or a feel-good rush.
There is no denying that a pint of ice cream can help divert our attention in the moment, but this temporary solution jeopardizes health in many ways. Overeating leads to other health issues, like high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. (10)
Some, on the other hand, suffer from appetite loss when they lose a loved one or a cherished relationship. Due to agitation and anxiety, they lose interest in food, and that can be as dangerous as overeating.
Our bodies need essential nutrients, and proper nourishment to help the brain stay healthy and active during hard times. So, always try to stick to nutritious and healthy foods after a breakup, when experiencing grief, or nursing any other wound of rejection. (11)
#2 Insomnia And A Broken Heart
Sleep disruptions are one of the common symptoms people experience when dealing with heartbreak. Loss of sleep is particularly harmful because it affects the restorative functions in the body. During sleep, the body regenerates cells and tissues, and it cleans the brain of waste too. The importance of quality sleep cannot be overstated. Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to heart attacks, diabetes, immune deficiency, and obesity. (9, 12)
#3 Heartbreak And Body Aches
Heartache causes an inflammatory response within the body, along with the release of fight-or-flight hormones. Though we think of it as emotional, it often manifests through muscle weakness, digestive issues, stomach pain, nausea, anxiety, and depression. (13)
For Your Health – How To Cope
Practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way to mitigate or prevent these symptoms altogether. You can train your mind to boost happiness and health, by taking some time out each day for healthy activities, like meditation or yoga. This will help you regain focus and clear the mental chatter.
It might seem overly simple, but one great way to move past a painful situation is to just get on with your everyday life. Feeling low is normal in the beginning, but once you get into your daily routine, it can help a lot.
Going for a walk, getting a good workout, attending a community yoga class, cooking or baking your favorite foods, and tending to your garden are all great ways of caring for yourself, and your life, and moving on with it gracefully. This also gives your mind a sense of purpose. Something that you can look forward to, a small goal for the day. (14, 2)
Other ways to let go of painful feelings include:
- Crying to release stress and emotional pain.
- Talking with someone you trust helps you be honest with yourself.
- Helping someone else can lift your own spirits.
- Communicating with the person who hurt you about your feelings. (Use boundaries!)
- Asking yourself what you really want in life now, dreaming big. This is time for you!
- Staying off an ex’s social media. It doesn’t help your pain to keep looking back. (2,3,4)
The Mind/Body Connection And A Broken Heart
Heartbreak is undeniably one of the more difficult feelings we go through in life. It may initially affect emotional and mental health, but if not dealt with in the right way, heartache can go on to negatively affect the physical body also.
Utilizing these suggestions to help deal with heartbreak can be helpful in protecting your mind and body – the key is to know what to watch out for and stay tuned in to your physical self and your emotions. One great way to stay connected is through meditation. If you’d like to learn more about how this ancient form of healing can work for you, click here.