Finding happiness after a relationship ends isn’t just about healing your broken heart. Here’s how to heal your body after a breakup, plus a summary of the different ways breaking up affects you physically.
Your heart feels broken after you break up with someone – but did you know your body feels the physical effects of a breakup, too? Rejection physically affects different parts of your body. Emotional pain activates the same pathways in the brain that physical pain does.
Your whole body — your head, stomach, eyes, and immune system — is affected by the stress of breaking up. When you start learning what your body is physically experiencing after a breakup, you can take better care of yourself.
There are a lot of complex physiological changes in your body after a breakup, and most of them are due to raised cortisol or stress levels in your body. Cortisol is the “stress hormone”, and it’s released in much higher levels during major life changes. A breakup can make you feel out of physically out of control, and even result in depression, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity. And that, my friend, is your first tip on how to heal your body after breakup: learn how to cope with physical stress.
What did you feel in your stomach, guts, and head when you first broke up? If your heart dropped into the pit of your stomach and you felt physical pain, you are normal. That’s exactly what heartbreak feels like.
Learn how breaking up physically affects your body, so you can give yourself the care and attention you need. This will help you heal your heart when a relationship ends and take care of your body after a breakup.
The Physical Effects of a Breakup
A study in the Journal of Neurophysiology revealed that broken hearts following breakups literally cause physical pain: your stomach sinks, your head hurts, you feel like throwing up, and your whole body aches.
The stress during and following a breakup can cause weight gain, especially around your tummy area. It also causes your body to crave sugar and fat, which can lead to mindless eating and weight gain after a breakup. You may also feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach. Intense emotional pain can activate the same nerves as physical pain; you literally feel rejection in your body.
Emotional tears are less salty and more watery than “regular” tears. Regular tears are caused by physical distress not related to a breakup (eg, a migraine or broken leg). Emotional tears make your eyes swell up more and look puffier, because the water moves by osmosis into the saltier tissues. Even though crying emotional tears may make your eyes puffy, it’s one of the best tips on how to heal your body after a breakup.
Your broken heart – physically and emotionally
Cardiologists have found that it’s not unusual to see older or less healthy people die of a heart attack within the first two weeks of a loss. This is because of higher adrenalin levels in the body, which pushes it into “fight or flight” mode. The physical effects of a breakup are similar to the painful consequences of grief after the death of a spouse. So, learning how to heal your body after a breakup is similar to taking care of yourself physically as a widow.
Your skin after a breakup
Depression and stress are linked to psoriasis, eczema, alopecia, and acne. If you’re prone to eating high fat, high sugar foods (chocolate, potato chips, ice cream), then your skin will be affected even more. The weakest parts of your immune system are triggered or compromised after a breakup, leading to physical problems that may even outlast the emotional pain of a broken heart.
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Learning how to heal your body after a breakup is different for different women, depending on your specific body type and health issues.
Brain scans of broken-hearted people found similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving. We know that the grieving process after a breakup is similar to losing a loved one to death — although on a different scale and for different reasons. You may feel shock, denial, grief, anger, resentment, self-blame, helplessness, fear, and depression.
If you love music, read Songs for Letting Go of Someone You Love.
People who have gone through a divorce are more likely to suffer from mobility issues such as difficulty climbing stairs or walking short distances. Stress from a breakup can also cause physical muscle spasms and tightness.
This leads to one of the best tips for healing your body after a breakup: get active, and stay as active as possible every day.
The physical withdrawal symptoms after a breakup
Being in love activates the same portion of the brain that drugs do, and a breakup leads to painful withdrawal symptoms. Researchers from Stony Brook University gave 15 men basic math equations after they viewed pictures of their exes. While the men were looking at these pictures, the researchers studied their brain activity. They found that the exposure to memories of their ex-lovers activated regions of their brain that are also active in cocaine addicts who are in withdrawal and experiencing physical pain.
A weakened immune system
The stress of breaking up also affects your immune system. You’re more likely to experience colds and the flu, as well as various autoimmune diseases. Depression, social isolation and feelings of loneliness can all contribute to a weakened immune system.
Learning to heal your body after a breakup involves strengthening your immune system in various ways – which the tips below will help you do.
Unhealthy sleep patterns
A breakup can disrupt your sleep patterns. Maybe you’re sleeping more than you did before, or you’re not sleeping enough. Maybe you’re used to sharing a bed with your partner; his absence makes it even harder to sleep. If your nervous system is stressed, you have high levels of cortisol in your system, and you’re lonely…sleep may not be your companion. This can become a vicious cycle: if you can’t sleep, you feel stressed. This increased stress leads to less sleep, which drives up your stress even further.
The physical effects of painful memories…
“The anguish of a breakup can bring back deep-seated memories about being abandoned as a child,” says psychologist Dr Susan Quilliam. “We are programmed to need human contact and to be affected when human contact is withdrawn. Therefore, we suffer when we are abandoned. At some point everyone in childhood thinks, ‘Oh no! I’m alone and I’m going to die!’ A breakup awakens those emotions and makes us feel insecure, angry and sad.”
Learning how your body was affected by the breakup will help you understand how to heal the pain after losing someone you love. This is also why it’s so important to take care of your body when a relationship ends!
4 Ways to Heal Your Body After a Breakup
These four practical ways to take care of yourself will help you heal your body and mind.
1. Make a dental appointment to get your teeth cleaned
When was the last time you got your teeth cleaned? This is an important way to take care of yourself! Not only does your dental health affect your entire body, you’ll feel better with the plaque and tartar removed. It’s not just about having a beautiful smile; it’s about knowing the health of your mouth. Everything you eat goes through your mouth, which means unhealthy or threatening germs can travel everywhere.
2. Schedule a physical checkup
Find out if you can get a free physical checkup from your doctor. Get a mammogram and a pap smear. Talk about your prescription medications, make sure they’re still working for you. Learning about your body is especially important after a breakup. How is your blood pressure? Cholesterol levels? Ask for a blood workup, and for specific ways to take care of yourself. If you have emotional health issues, learning how to heal your body after a breakup will fill you with a sense of power and control.
3. Get a massage
Massage is often considered an unnecessary luxury, but it’s one of the most effective methods of combating stress and inducing relaxation. It’s also a calming way to take care of and heal your body after a breakup. Massage offers many additional physical and mental benefits such as expelling toxins, relieving muscle soreness, increasing flexibility, easing chronic pain, reducing tension headaches, boosting the immune system, promoting restful sleep, and improving concentration.
Getting a massage is one of the best ways to heal and take care of yourself physically— especially after a breakup. Your body isn’t getting the same amount of physical touch as before. We all need to be touched – not always sexually, but in healing ways.
4. Stretch, sweat, and move your body!
Aim True Yoga DVD is one of my favorite yoga DVDs because it stretches my body and inspires my soul. Instructor Kathryn Budig also wrote Love Your Body, Eat Without Fear, Nourish Your Spirit, and Discover True Balance. Stretching is one of the best ways to release stress and relax tight muscles, and exercising releases endorphins which helps to reduce stress and depression.
Or, consider joining a hiking group, soccer team or Nia fitness class. Any exercise will help you heal your body after a breakup. The more you move, the better you’ll feel.
How has your breakup affected you physically? Share your thoughts and experience below. Expressing yourself in writing is a healthy way to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually after a difficult breakup.
Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books
Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.
How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.
When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.
In the pieces of your broken heart, you will find the seeds that will help you Blossom.