If you are puzzling as to why there are more breakups during the holidays than other times of the year, you are not alone. There are a plethora of articles about relationships tumbling down the rabbit hole. However, if your heart is breaking because your love has left you, it is perhaps more important to look forward towards healing than looking back and hurting. Nonetheless, it may be helpful to understand “why it hurts so much.”
As with love at first sight, the pain of rejection affects the same areas of the brain as cocaine. Love can bring on cocaine-like high in a fifth of a second. Brain wave studies reported by Stephanic Ortigue, Ph.D., identified “the cortical networks associated with passionate love.” But the reaction to the break-up can last for days. In addition to emotional highs and lows, it can even include symptoms so severe that women in particular may find themselves in the emergency room with symptoms mimicking a heart attack.
Heartbreak pain is triggered by a hormone experienced after the loss of a loved one, a traumatic ending to a love affair, or divorce. This sends the heart’s pumping ability into a type of freeze mode affecting the left ventricle. Dr. Elizabeth Mostofsky in the cardiovascular epidemiology research unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and Harvard explained to me during earlier interviews that after the death of a loved one, the heart-attack risk is 21 times higher within 24 hours.
After a breakup, long-term couples might feel as if they have lost a sense of self. Research by Dr. Celia Harris and colleagues at Macquarie University found that in terms of remembering by long term couples may develop interconnected or collaborative memories such as the names of musicals, vivid descriptions. Even if you are in a short term relationship, being left alone can trigger anger, pain, and sadness. What is the solution?
13 Tips to Overcome Break-up Blues
After a breakup, even if you initiated the good-bye, you may find yourself crying more than usual and wishing you could crawl under the covers and stay there. On the other hand, you may want to reach out to your friends and complain bitterly. You may feel that you can never love again. But love is always possible. Here are some thoughts:
Try mindfulness exercises: In "Three Mindfulness Exercises to Improve Your Dating Life," Ken Page who writes "Finding Love" at PsychologyToday.com advocates approaching dating as an adventure of self-discovery.
In essence, rebound love may be just what the doctor ordered. Brumbaugh and Farley (2015) determined from two studies that there may be some benefit in rebound love.Keep yourself open to infatuation and love at first sight. And if it is too soon for another love relationship, be open to the friendly hug of someone whose warm and loving personality should be on your “must-have” checklist. The tenderness of touch is healing.
Have you read this? 16 Breaking up Tips and How Journaling Eases Heartbreak
Copyright 2015 Rita Watson
Bregtje Gunther Moor, Eveline A. Crone, Maurits W. van der Molen. The Heartbrake of Social Rejection: Heart Rate Deceleration in Response to Unexpected Peer Rejection. Psychological Science, 2010
Harris, C., Barnier, A., Sutton, J., & Keil, P. (2014). Couples as socially distributed cognitive systems: Remembering in everyday social and material contexts Memory Studies, 7 (3), 285-297