How to Mend a Broken Heart After a Breakup
Heart break is no joke, and most of us will experience it in some form, likely more than once in our lifetime. Some of us put a wall up, become guarded, and avoid getting too close after these experiences as a way to try and protect ourselves. Eventually we may let that guard down, opening ourselves up to be vulnerable, and potentially hurt again. Heart break can be similar to grief in how it presents. It can bring on physical symptoms, increase both heart rate and blood pressure, which can cause an increased cardiovascular risk - no wonder it's called heart break.
There may be actual physical pain, chest pain, you may feel like you are having a panic attack, heart attack, like you are going to be sick, like someone knocked the wind right out of you. The same area within your brain that lights up when you're hurt physically is actually the same area that lights up when you suffer some sort of social rejection, or heart break. Our brains create dopamine and oxytocin which are known for making humans experience feelings of both happiness and pleasure. When we are hurt they are flushed from our system at a rapid rate, leaving us feeling the stress hormones what make us feel those uncomfortable feelings.
You may withdraw from others. You may feel depressed. You may lose your appetite, or find that you can't stop eating. You may feel depressed, anxious, and question yourself. You may sleep too much, or be unable to sleep at all. You may have no desire to get up, socialize, be around others, or do your normal daily tasks - I urge you to use opposite action here and do it even if in the moment you have no motivation and feel like you don't want to do anything. The sooner you get up and moving, the sooner the healing process will be able to start.
The only think that will truly heal a broken heart, is time. That doesn't seem helpful, however it's the truth. I wouldn't be doing you any favors if I sugar coated it. You need to step back from the loss, allow yourself space - it won't be easy, it will most likely be painful, however you can get through it. Be open and honest about where you are at in this moment. You can and will get back to feeling like you again.
Allow Yourself to Cry - Feel the Feelings
It might not be enjoyable, it may even be down right uncomfortable, but there is something to be said for a good, ugly cry, and letting it all out. Don't keep your feelings - or tears bottles up inside. No one ever died from a good cry, letting it out is healthy. You are not expected to simply "get over it" your feelings are valid and matter. Allow yourself time and space to grieve. It may be a longer process for some of us than others. You may find that you thought you were doing okay or better, and something reminds you of what you thought you had, the future you dreamed of, it's okay to hurt, and it takes time to heal. The more you put it off, the longer you push the feelings aside, the longer it will take to heal. It's okay not to be okay. It's also okay to embrace and enjoy the moments of happiness that may sneak in during this time. Just put one foot in front of the other.
Create a Self-Care Plan for Yourself
Yes, of course it would be easier to stay in your favorite sweat pants, call out, ignore your calls and texts, and hide in bed with your dog. We have all been there, but ultimately it's not going to be helpful. Likely it's also not going to make you feel better. Stick to your normal routine to the best of your ability. You need to make sure you are taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Eat right, get moving, show up for yourself even when it feels impossible. Let the energy out in a healthy way. Create, draw, paint, do something with your hands. Go for a run, blast your favorite music. Hit the gym, a POUND class, kickboxing, go for a hike, something up-beat to get your endorphins going and boost your mood. I recommend doing this often. Practice self-compassion, this means living yourself, respecting yourself, and being gentle with yourself.
You may be hurting right now, and you may feel as though you don't deserve to laugh, have fun, or enjoy life, however that is not true. You may be grieving, but you also deserve to do the things that bring you peace, joy, laughter, and happiness. Life doesn't have to stop even though you are hurting. It may just be a little harder for a while. Take a drive to your favorite place, take a hot bath, blast your favorite music, treat yourself to flowers, a meal, a massage, a day off, whatever you need. Try deep breathing, meditation, gentle yoga, and stay hydrated.
The heart break, the grief, the lull that you may be in may present in different ways. You may have good moments, bad moments, and moments where you aren't sure how to go on or cope. Reaching out to a friend, family member, or even a professional is beyond okay. You don't have to do this alone. Be it grief from a death, a break up, leaving a toxic relationship of any kind, a compassionate ear may be helpful. Be honest and open about your feelings, your experience, emotions, where you are at in the process.
Yes, forgiveness plays a role here. We don't forgive the other person for their peace of mind, rather for our own. Forgiveness allows us to stop being angry, mad, sad, hurt, pissed off, it allows us to let go on the thing that hurt us. Don't hold onto the hurt, anger, and pain, while the other person goes on with their life moving on. Break the cycle, those chains that seem like they are binding you and holding you down, get rid of them. Allow yourself to be at peace, you are the only one in charge of your own happiness. Set the intention that you are enough, and you can feel whole again. You are not broken, even though it might seem like it in this moment.
Take Your Power Back
You allowed yourself to open up, to be vulnerable, let your wall down, and let someone else in. We can't control other peoples actions, thoughts, feelings, words, or behaviors, however, we can control our own behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. Chose to take the good things that came from the relationship, take the experiences, the positives, and leave the rest behind. Take only what you need from the experience. Love and let go. We tend to hold onto dreams that were never reality, in turn causing us to hurt more and for a longer period of time. Check in with yourself, are you secretly hoping it's going to magically work out and things are going to end with the fairy-tail dreams of yesterday, take off the rose colored glasses, see the situation for what it is. Allow yourself to grieve, be honest with yourself about the good and bad parts of the relationship, he honest about what went wrong and why it ended.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
The good news is, you will make a full recovery from your broken heart. It may take weeks, possibly months, however, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even though it may seem dim in the moment.