(S)he left you for someone else, and it feels like you’re going to die When i became a novelist, Ied the text. Really die. Your heart hurts, and you can’t imagine a future without your partner. The truth is, what you’re feeling is real.Your brain sees emotional and physical hurt in the same way
If you’ve ever been dumped, you’ll remember that terrible feeling – as if you’d been punched in the stomach! Well, even though no-one’s laid a finger on you, your brain is telling your body that the pain is real! In an interview with Women’s Health Magazine, Naomi Eisenbuerger, Ph.D., said that the area of your brain that lights up when you’re hurt physically is the same area that lights up when you suffer “social rejection.” So, yes, it really does hurt.
A flood of stress hormones
You know that incredible feeling of being in love? You can thank neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin for that. When love ends suddenly, all those wonderful chemicals get washed out of your system by a flood of stress hormones: cortisol and epinephrine, and too much of them does not make you feel good at all. One way to reverse the trend is exercise – a good run or circuit at the gym will bring back the dopamine and soothe the pain.
Eating too much or nothing at all
People cope with sadness in different ways: some binge-eat and others stop eating altogether. Either way is not great for your health. If you’re a binger, be aware and try to load up on healthy snacks. If sadness wipes out your appetite, force yourself to eat something light a couple of times a day, and remember to drink water! Don’t let this part of heartbreak last too long – give yourself a week or so, and then get back to healthy eating.
Withdrawal is real
Is love is addictive? Yes, it is! When love vanishes, you experience some of the same withdrawal symptoms you’d experience when you’re cut off from an addictive drug. OK, not the nausea, fever and body cramps (thank goodness), but the anxiety and emotional pain. Luckily, these symptoms lessen every day and pretty soon you’ll feel like your normal self. With this one, it just takes time.
You’re going to get blue
Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid that sinking feeling. But, you can choose how to deal with it. After a breakup, you probably just want to be alone, but you need to get your dopamine levels up so that you don’t settle down into a dark hole. The best way to do this is by doing the things that you love. We know: urgh! And sure, everything reminds you of your lost love. Do the things you enjoy, just do them in different places for a while. If you love sushi, eat sushi – just maybe not at the restaurant the two of you used on date-night. Call your friends and get out there – becoming a hermit is just going to prolong your pain.
So, yes – it hurts and hurts. Your body feels like it’s been beaten up and your self-esteem has taken a knock, but this all passes. Give yourself a week or so to find your feet, then get out there. Hang with friends, go to the gym and start making plans for this new phase in your life. You have everything to live for!
Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com