Fatigued, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, irritability, body pain, lack of motivation….Do these symptoms sound familiar? Do you relate them to a night of excessive drinking OR a painful break-up? Both?? Well, that’s very often true! Both sets of problems feel extremely similar, and there are scientific theories to back that up.
It turns out that the effects of alcohol and the feeling of being in love mirror each other. Both can make someone feel elated, invincible, uninhibited, strong. The region of the brain often called the ‘reward’ system, is tied to all addictions; alcohol and love included. There have been studies done that show the ‘love’ hormone Oxycontin mimics the intoxicating results of drinking. They target different areas of the brain, but have similar results. The bad news is the after effects of both can also be quite parallel.
There are those who scoff at the physical ramifications of heartbreak, but there is an actual clinical term called ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’. It is also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy. I don’t mean to alarm anyone, not every break up causes a medical emergency, but my point is, there are some very real physical responses. You can experience intense chest pain (which is actually a reaction to the surge of stress hormones). The drop in dopamine and Oxycontin (the feel goods of love) and the rise of cortisol (stress on steroids), puts your body into chaos.
We’ve all been there. (And if you haven’t, then you are the rarest form of unicorn.) We’ve all had to deal with a broken heart, and it is one of few things in life that is completely non-discriminate. There is no age limit, racial boundary, gender preference or financial hedge; everyone is vulnerable to this devastating life event. My goal today is to reassure you, that it is indeed, just one life event, and does not define your entire life. I am confident of this, because I am on the other side of my own Heartbreak Ridge. Several years ago, I went through an extremely painful and almost crippling break up. I believed he was most definitely the ‘one’ and I had hit the jackpot. My future was planned and secure; until it wasn’t. And he left. And everything in my world flipped upside down. I understand for those spinning in this misery cyclone, that it’s hard to imagine feeling good again, but hear me out, trust the process, and I promise you will. Here are some tips to fix your Heart Hang-Over.
Resist The Urge To Contact – You will spend countless hours second guessing yourself. What did you do wrong? What could you have done better? It has to be a mistake, a misunderstanding. To be sure, if you guys could talk just one more time, it could be worked out. You just want to hear their voice again. This is just desperation and emotional fatigue talking. Shut it down. They broke up with you for whatever reasoning they thought was the right decision for them, or just because they were not good people. You will never control another person’s mind or heart. Leave them alone. Speaking of that….
Do Not Stalk Social Media – I am not suggesting you have to block them (although it might not be the worst idea, depending on how things went down), but I would certainly unfollow them. You do not need to see their face and their activities on a daily basis. There needs to be some distance for your heart and mind to heal. Also, do not ask their family or friends to keep you updated or spy for you. What your ex does from now on should have no bearing on what you do.
Express Yourself - Cry. Scream. Vent. It’s normal and it is even beneficial in measured amounts. You need to release the built-up emotion and get it out of your system. Almost like a purge of the pain.
Accept You May Need Down Time – You will most likely experience a loss of motivation to do just about anything. This is the depression part that zaps you of your emotional strength and energy. It is ok to allow yourself some time to recover. Binge watch Netflix, splurge on your favorite takeout, stay in your PJs all day curled up with a good book. However, understand it is NOT ok to wallow. Please learn the difference between healthy sadness and unhealthy fixation and hopelessness. Reach out to someone (even a professional) if you are having extreme difficulty coping.
Get Moving – As in whatever physical activity suits you best. Go dancing, hiking or to the gym. Take a brisk walk around the block or to work. The exertion is good for you; body and mind. It is also a not-to-subtle reminder that YOU have power over your life. You are not a victim to another’s whims or choices. You have the say in what moves you forward, and feeling the burn can drive that knowledge home.
Take A Deep Breath – And Get Back In The Game (Of Life) – It may be a while before you are ready to date again, and I do not even suggest looking right away, but life is too short and too valuable to waste on the sidelines. It is called a broken heart, but it isn’t truly broken. It is a large and abounding vessel full of love, support and passion to pour out. Find a willing container. Reconnect with family and friends. Start a new hobby, or pick up an old one. Rekindle or re-purpose your bucket list. Refuse to allow your self-worth or self-esteem to tumble. Take back control of your journey and makes beautiful plans.
My Hopefuls, I am convinced that a Heart Hang-Over is real and tangible thing. Whether we were three sentiments to the wind, pickled by passion or fell off the love wagon, the end of relationship is difficult. There are biological reactions and emotional distresses, and even knowing all of that, the bottom line is it still takes just plain old time to recover. My hope is that you hold on to the belief that you will. Have faith in the process and allow your support system to be there for you. Before long, you will be joyful and engaged in life and being able to…..
Hope With Abandon
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