How to Heal a Broken Heart
We asked a psychologist what her advice would be if someone with a severe broken heart would come to ask her for advice.
Of course, every story is different, but there are some coping mechanisms that can help everyone.
Every human aspires a good romantic relationship. But the path towards finding your ideal partner will most likely have some broken hearts along the way. Many relationships end and never reach the fairytale status. Many of us are destined to find real love, but not all of us are lucky enough to find that in the first attempts. Chance is pretty big you experienced a broken heart.
Breakups can occur due to a variety of situations, separation after a twenty-five years old marriage because he/she became unbearable, end of a three-month summer fling because she has to go to Harvard, or collapse of a two-year long relationship because she/he cheated. Whatever the reason is, heartbreak can be disappointing.
What science says about Heartbreak
Heartbreak has been studied, scientifically, and there is a vast consensus among scientific bodies that heartbreaks and rejection can change people’s lives usually for the worse. There can actually be physical symptoms as of the result of a broken heart.
But there is also research studies and clinical evidence supporting the fact that human beings are capable of dealing with this pain and moving on with their lives.
Why do you feel so horrible after a breakup?
Love is a drug.
You can take that quite literally. Studies confirm the fact that love is just like addiction. And lovers tend to behave like addicts. They feel high in the presence of their loved one, and in their absence, they crave for them, may experience insomnia and decreased appetite. Thus, there is no doubt that the ending of this phase can cause withdrawal symptoms. Also, there is a famous study that demonstrated that the pain of break is similar to the physical pain, as it activates the same parts in our brain that actual pain activates. This indicates that when someone after breakup says he is in pain, then there is a fair chance that he is feeling pain.
Are there cures for heartbreak?
Break ups are difficult to handle and moving on is even harder. But there is another research found that efforts to deal with the breakup help to cope with the pain. Researchers gave participants who recently experienced a breakup, a nasal spray. Half of the participants were told that this spray is helpful for the emotional distress while the other half were told that this is just a saline solution.
The first group of the participants reported significant improvement in the emotional as well as physical pain and discomfort after nasal spray while the other half didn’t report such results.
This shows that if we actively think we are doing something to counter the heartbreak, it actually helps to counter the negative effects. Getting out with friends, learning a new skill or engaging in a new hobby can speed up the recovery. But this can only happen if we do such things. Here we will give you a complete toolkit to deal with such a painful experience.
What can you do to heal a broken heart?
- Acknowledge the emotional turmoil
After break up, the most challenging thing is to accept the break-up and come in term with reality. Variant reasons make it difficult to stay in contact with the reality, “it’s me not you”, “I find someone else”, “I love you but I'm no longer in love with you”, all such explanations make you confuse and can trap you in a vicious cycle of blaming yourself and feeling responsible for the whole situation.
- Acknowledge your feelings and let it go.
To let go of all these feelings and move on with life, you first need to sink yourself in the experience. Acknowledge your feelings, sadness, anger, frustration, irritability, hopelessness, or resentment. If you want to get rid of these feelings, it is not suggested to put these under the carpet or lock in a closet. Even a secondary memory or encounter with your ex can unleash these feelings, and they will haunt you.
So assimilate your feelings, cry as much as you want, shout, burn his picture, collect all his gifts in a box and give it to someone, throw away or burn. Do whatever works for you and make you feel better, but remember, do it for all and once. Once you stop crying or stop being angry, there is no need to look back and think about the past.
- Break the vicious cycle of negative thoughts
Being stuck in the negative thoughts, and thinking about all the possible reasons behind this scenario along with all the “what ifs” make thing difficult to understand. Making sense of the situation and staying in touch with reality can be hard.
You need to think logically to analyze the whole situation, and for analyzing, you need to clear your mind, and deal with the entire emotional spectacle. Once your mind gets clear, things began to make sense, and you will be able to decipher the messages that your ex was giving you long before the breakup.
Talk to a close friend, a family member, a colleague or a total stranger if you want. Talk about this and listen to yourself. This can tell you if you are being absurd or are dealing with this logically and rationally. But here is a little tip, be cautious while talking to your close ones. Sometimes, talking about your break up and ex all the time can wear out your friend or family. In such a scenario, it is best to speak to a professional, a counsellor or a psychologist. This can help you in dealing with the trauma and develop a set of coping strategies.
Recovery after break-up although a tough journey, but putting effort and work on yourself make it all possible. Taking care of yourself is a fundamental coping strategy for recovery in case of any traumatic experience. So, how to take care of yourself.
Eat healthy, this is beneficial on so many levels. Yes, in the first weeks you may have to force yourself a little, but the benefits are so big and will accumulate over time. You will feel fitter, look better, have more energy, meet new people.
Do not isolate yourself from activities because it can make things worse. Keep yourself busy and indulge in some physical activities like exercise. Exercise releases hormones that are responsible for happiness and satisfaction. Talk to a friend, set your wardrobe, plan a thorough cleaning of your house, or plan a holiday at a place where you always want to go, learn a skill that you want to but never tried.
Get a new haircut, visit your family or plan a picnic with your family, sign up a club. Try anything except being alone and getting indulge in self-loathing and hatred.
- Stay clear of the self-blaming
When the reasons for a break up are not clear, you can find yourself blaming for this. However, there are always two sides to a coin. Thinking about your part and taking the responsibility, without being caught in a counter-productive cycle of self-blaming, can empower you and help you in making a new relationship.
Getting closure is essential, making yourself realize that it is over is important to finish this chapter of your life. There is not a specific method or strategy to do this. Every person is unique and different, some individuals want a mourning period before closure, while others may get up and go with their routine with the pain in their hearts until one day it stops hurting. So, identify what works best for you and stick to that.
- Don’t compare yourself with others or your ex
Every person deals with trauma. Differently, some needs a long time to get over it, some might need a few days, some need alone time to get over their pain while others need to do a party to move past this pain. So, do not compare yourself.
There is also a fair chance that your ex moves much faster in their life than you especially if he/she is the one who decides the breakup. It is because, the person who takes the decision, deal with half of the stress and trauma before the break-up, so your ex appears to move on fast than you.
Do not rush things, take your time and move according to your pace. Do not listen to others stories and there is no need to act upon their advice if you do not want to. Listen to your brain and heart, keep yourself at peace and indulge yourself in the healing process.
- Your breakup does not define your whole romantic journey
If this relationship did not succeed, your next relationship would be. Blaming yourself responsible, thinking of yourself as a failure, worthless and incapable of leading a happy romantic life is not helpful at all and it doesn’t define you as a human being.
Human is a fallible being, you are a human and allow to make mistakes. Instead of beating yourself, learn from your mistakes. Take this as an experience and implement the learned strategies in your future relationship.
- Beware of rebound relationship or keeping friendship with your ex
It is also possible that you become so hopeless of your love life that you decided never to have a relationship again, and then there is another extreme where you go on a killing spree and look rebound relationships. It is toxic and harmful to yourself. Your rational and logical self never let you do that. Instead of going for one-night stands, read a book or go for adventure alone, discover the world and be ready for your perfect partner.
Some find it tempting to stay in touch with their ex as friends. Yes, it is possible, but once you get full closure. With all the lingering romantic feelings and emotions, things can become awkward between you too. One may have this hopes of getting together again one day while others want a friend to bitch about colleagues and talk about crushes. This can be the trauma all over again. So, don’t contact your ex unless you are completely prepared to handle the awkward stuff.
- Do not let depression sneak in your life
Being sad is normal, it is healthy, but there is a fine line difference between sadness and depression. When you are in such an overwhelming state, it is easy to miss the difference. Look out for the signs and symptoms of depression.
Crushing sadness, sleep and appetite disturbance, lack of pleasure in daily activities, are main symptoms of depression. If you feel like things are going out of control, and you are unable to deal with this, seek professional help. Go to a psychologist before it’s too late and get this all sort out.
Turn over a new page
Now, it is time to move on with your life.
- Get rid of all the traces of your partner
Try to erase all her/his signs from your house. It can be difficult if you cohabitate, have mutual financial stuff and mutual friends. Moving out, or living without your ex in the house with is smidgens all over the house, is difficult. Find new interests, change your setting or buy a painting. Things will get better eventually.
- Also, clear the digital traces
Nowadays when everything is online, it is difficult to avoid your ex in the digital world, your memories pop up each day from the previous year on social media, any mutual friend of yours like his picture, you can be tempted to stalk his profile and keep tabs of his new relationship. You need to stop doing that to move on with your life.
Remember. You can only meet a new person in your life ahead when you stop looking backwards. How can you detect someone right in the present when your mind is stuck in the past?
So, be patient, let go of negativity, focus on positivity, be around positive people, help your friends with heartbreak and find a purpose in your life to follow.
Before you know, you will be in love all over again soon.