Many people don’t really know how to heal a broken heart. There are those who push down their emotions, pretend the heartbreak never happened and move on with their lives. There are those who wallow in the feeling and seem to take months or even years to return to a semblance of their former selves. The truth is, neither of these methods is right if you really want to know how to heal a broken heart. Both ways touch on things that are helpful when you’re dealing with a broken heart, but both also get things wrong.
The latter method really undervalues the physiological changes that occur in your mind and body when you have a broken heart. They can make it hard to do anything at all. The science of a broken heart can help you get started on healing. So read our advice below, then take a shower and a walk. Perhaps stop by your favorite coffee shop and watch life going on around you.
SIGNS OF A BROKEN HEART
Although no two people experience broken hearts the same, and you may even feel different every time you have a broken heart, some of the symptoms of a broken heart remain the same. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, then it might just be time to admit you have a broken heart.
- You can’t think of anyone or anything else. The object of your desire is your first and last thought – and every thought in between.
- You feel sad, anxious, depressed or even suicidal. This can make you withdraw from activities you normally like, or you may find yourself unable to enjoy those things.
- You want to sleep all the time, and you’re tired when you are awake.
- You constantly daydream about what’s happened or what could happen, driving yourself insane with the “What ifs”.
- You want to communicate with your ex/crush all the time, even though it won’t help you get over him
- You can’t eat.
These things might remain emotional feelings, or they may manifest themselves physically. Read on to find out why.
SIGNS IS A BROKEN HEART
The key to understanding how to heal a broken heart is to understand what happened. Perhaps you’ve been dumped, rejected by a crush or your spouse has even passed. All of these things can result in a broken heart, and some people would even describe their heart as broken after a falling out with their friends. Many people feel a broken heart in a physical sense. You might feel physical pain. Love causes unbelievable changes! Your stomach may be upset. You might generally feel poor like you’ve come down with something.
This physiological response to a broken heart makes sense when you understand what’s going on. Heartbreak is essentially like withdrawal from a drug. If you’ve happily been in a relationship or excitedly falling in love, the rejection or break has suddenly ceased the positive stimulation you were receiving. But your brain doesn’t know why, and it certainly doesn’t want to deal with the change. MRI scans of individuals going through heartbreak show similarities to those who are going through drug withdrawal. Source.
The rest of your body responds in kind. You know the feeling in the “pit of your stomach” when you’re anxious? That’s due to a release of epinephrine from the adrenal glands near your kidneys. This same system also diverts blood flow from the area, which can lead to even further stomach upset. No wonder you can’t eat when your heart is broken!
But how do you really heal a broken heart?
HOW TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART THE RIGHT WAY
There are a few key components to healing a broken heart, which is why so much advice about getting over heartbreak is the same.
1. GET YOUR ANGER OUT CONSTRUCTIVELY
Don’t key his car or kidnap his dog. Don’t punish yourself if the end of the relationship was your fault. Instead, find an outlet, especially one that’s physical. It might be yoga, which calms your body and mind. Or you may prefer kickboxing. For some people, faux violence in video games helps them get over a broken heart. Maybe you respond to your broken heart by expressing yourself artistically. Write a song, paint a picture or sculpt something. There’s no one right way to do it, but you don’t want to bottle it up.
2. BUILD YOURSELF UP
There are several reasons why people are hard on themselves after a breakup. Perhaps you did something that pushed your ex away. You may doubt yourself and wonder if anyone can love you or if you’re deserving of happiness. Even if you cheated, this doesn’t mean you’re unlovable or unworthy. You should respect what you did wrong and learn from it (more on that in a second!), but you shouldn’t wallow in guilt.
Instead, focus on your good qualities. Enlist the help of friends and family if you’re finding this a daunting task. Sure, you might be an imperfect human being, but so is your ex – and everyone else for that matter! Focusing only on the negative doesn’t help your broken heart!
3. LEARN A LESSON
If you’re struggling to get over a broken heart, you might feel as though the time you spent in a relationship or the effort you put forth while you were excited over the potential was wasted. But that’s not how to heal a broken heart! Instead, look for the lesson learned. Even if you don’t get back together or can’t stay friends, at least, you’ll have learned something. There are all sorts of lessons to be learned after heartbreak:
- How to communicate with your significant other
- The type of person you tend to go for (bad boys aren’t long-term material!)
- If you’re too selfish in a relationship (or too giving!)
- You have to actively work to keep your marriage spicy
- Your relationship doesn’t exist to make you happy
- You can – and should – be happy by yourself
- So on and so forth
You can use the lessons learned to not only get over your broken heart but to become a better person, friend, lover, and spouse and to start off your next relationship, whenever that might occur, on the right foot. Your broken heart is time for introspection, which is one reason we recommend against jumping into a new relationship too quickly.
4. BE MINDFUL
One of the main elements of meditation and some forms of therapy is mindfulness. When you’re mindful, you recognize that you have a broken heart and all the difficulties that come with it. You don’t repress those feelings. Instead, you recognize them but then let them go. It helps many people to visualize. Your negative thoughts and feelings might be leaves in the wind or fish in a stream. You see them and name them, but you let them pass you by.
For some people, meditation or therapy that focuses on mindfulness can be particularly helpful in curing that broken heart as quickly as possible. It enables you to recognize where you are now but to still move forward. More about that here.
5. REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES
Sure, you’re broken up, or you’re crushed because the person you’ve adored for a few weeks doesn’t return your feelings. Those things certainly don’t feel good. You may have been cheated on. Your husband may have kicked you out of your house. Your broken heart is understandable, no doubt about it. And so is your desire to remember only the negative and to think poorly of your ex or crush. But if you want to know how to heal a broken heart, you shouldn’t actually do that.
Remind yourself that there was a reason you developed feelings for this person or got into this relationship. The same is also true for whoever the guy is in the situation. Remember the happy memories you made as a couple or family. If it didn’t get that far, perhaps you can recall some of the things you said while flirting or just how good it felt to meet someone with whom you saw potential. You felt butterflies and excitement, perhaps for the first time in a long time.
It’s not only okay to remember those feelings and to allow yourself to smile over them, but it also helps you to heal that broken heart once and for all!
Of course, there are other things you should do when you’re getting over a broken heart. Reconnect with friends and family. Take up hobbies that you might have put on the back burner while you were busy being in a relationship or pursuing that man. Talk about feelings if it helps, and indulge in a little ice cream now and then.
Just know that everyone’s had a broken heart at some point. That’s why these quotes ring so true. We’ve all had to learn how to heal a broken heart. You don’t need to be stoic, but you should do anything on this list that keeps you connected with those around you and enables you to move through your day as a functioning human.