Unfortunately, not all relationships are built to last, and if you’re watching this then it means that you’re probably coming to terms with a recent break up. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Everything you’re feeling is normal, and we’re here to help you through it!
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It may feel like you’re all alone and you want the world to swallow you up, but you need to know that others have been through the same thing as you! There is science behind the things you’re feeling so we’re going uncover seven stages of a break up, and give you seven easy steps to cut through all the science and come back stronger!
Stage 1: Shock
The immediate shock of breaking up with someone, no matter if it was sudden or something that was coming for a long time, is not just metaphorical, it’s a physical process that your body and mind go through! Actually going through a separation will make your body produce more adrenaline and make your muscles swell. This can lead to aches, anxiety and headaches.
Researchers at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago found that caffeine will do a better job of curing the headache than standard ibuprofen, so grab yourself a cup of joe or an energy drink. You’re also going to have pent up energy thanks to that adrenaline, so get your gym gear on and burn it all away. No matter your preferred method of exercise, if it’s at least a moderate intensity then it will metabolise your excess energy, and the endorphin rush will help to clear your head.
Stage 2: Craving
With the immediate separation, you’ll no doubt have the urge to get back in contact with your ex. Once again, it’s a natural process that most people will go through as your brain reacts to the change. Your brain will be flooded with extra dopamine, over stimulating your brain, which will make you feel jittery and on edge.
The perfect remedy for that feeling? Book yourself a break and get away for a little bit. The physical act of organising time away from your normal routine is cathartic as you’re making the step to physically make a change from the norm. This is magnified once you’re actually away, giving you time to adjust to your circumstances, and giving you the chance to think about something other than your ex. It doesn’t always need to be a week in Ibiza or backpacking around Europe, even meeting up with old friends will do the trick!
Stage 3: Depression
If you thought the term “broken heart” was an over-dramatic sentiment invented by Shakespeare or Saturday morning cartoons, you’ll be surprised to know it scientifically makes a little sense! With the initial spike of adrenaline you’ll get following the split, your body will be working overtime to deal with it. Once the adrenaline has been dealt with, the stress the extra work caused will be more evident, with your heart’s pumping ability being lowered, leading to a drop in blood pressure and general fatigue.
Luckily we’ve got a secret remedy that will work wonders for your heart, along with your stomach! For a quick fix and to ‘reboot’ your system, head to your local curry house! Research at UCLA has found that Capsaicin, which is the chemical that causes heat in a curry, naturally increases your heart rate. A nice hot curry will get your blood pumping again and raring to go.
Stage 4: Stress
After a few days you’ll likely make it through the shock, craving and the dumps, but your body will still feel run down, and you could be vulnerable to things like winter bugs. This is because once all the dopamine has left your system, your brain will go on the defensive and assume your body is under threat, resulting in a weakened immune system.
The best way to get around these issues, at all times not just after a break up, is to make sure that you’re eating the right things! Filling your body with junk food isn’t going to help anything, so put down the fish and chips, the burgers, the hot dogs and step away from the chocolate bars! A few key things you could have are grapes, tomatoes, broccoli and green tea. These are high in Quercetin which is great for stopping your body’s cortisol production, the chemical that lowers your immune system!
Stage 5: Rage
You’ve guided your body through the process and have had time to think about things a little more…but now you just get angry! Don’t worry, it’s not just you getting cranky for the sake of it, and it’s also not damning evidence that your ex was completely in the wrong about everything. When your stress hormones peak, the brain shuts down serotonin production which, among other things, helps regulate moods and social behaviour.
If you’re at the point where you have pent up anger, you need to acknowledge it and let it go. Research at the University of California has found that opening up to your anger makes you more rational in the long run. Look for an activity you can do that will help you release your anger in a constructive way, or channel it into the activity like hitting a punching bag. Once you’ve let go, make sure you surround yourself with a calm and positive atmosphere, like with friends or family.
Stage 6: Emptiness
If you’re still in a sore spot and have locked yourself away in the house, make sure that you don’t fall victim to a loss of appetite. Massive stress levels can bring about stress eating, where nothing is safe, or a complete loss of appetite. Stock your kitchen up with good foods, then work on that appetite.
To get your hunger back you need to adjust those stress levels, and all you need to do that is take the time and breathe right! Jake Toby, a hypnotherapist at London’s Body Mind Medicine Centre, recommends to “inhale for eight seconds, hold for four and then exhale slowly.” If your body is feeling tense, focus on relaxing that specific area for 30 seconds. These techniques will help lower your stress levels, and your appetite will be back with a bang!
Stage 7: Aches
You’ve made it through all the hard stuff and now single life should feel a bit more normal, but you’ll still get the pangs of missing that old relationship every now and then. Studies on the physiological effects of rejection at the University of Amsterdam have found that “a tear in your social fabric can lead to a disruption of your nervous system.” Put plainly, you’re used to doing things one way, in a relationship, and you need to reboot.
Now that you’re single, it’s time to reassert the ‘you’ in yourself.” Feeling cut off, results in a negative body response, so by reaffirming connections, you can reverse the effects.” If you had activities that suffered because of your relationship, like poker nights or just meeting regularly with friends, it’s time to get back to them. This is what psychologists call your self-concept, or a sense of yourself. In short, do what you want to do!
It’s important to remember that whatever you’re going through after a break up, others have been in the same place too. Don’t lose your mind thinking that you’re blowing things out of proportion, as there’s always science behind the symptoms!
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