Breaking Up is Hard to Do...and Hard on Your Body
So why does a breakup hurt so much? Because in some cases, your body is actually experiencing a form of withdrawal. This imbalance activates the same mechanisms in the brain that are triggered when addicts are withdrawing from substances like cocaine and opioids. Studies have found that that people in a long-term relationship actually tend to regulate each other’s biological rhythms (sleep, temperature, heart rate). A breakup can throw an entire physiology out of whack, disrupting sleep, appetite, internal temperature, and heart rate.
In evaluating the “Most Stressful Life Events” on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, a ranking system of 43 events that lead to illness, “Divorce” and “Separation from your partner” receive the second and third highest rating. “Relationships” are consistently a leader in stress causation nationwide.
However you want to term it, “Heartbreak” is your body’s response, “Hey, look, something really important just happened.” Modify your expectations of yourself accordingly. Everyone’s symptoms manifest differently - be it fatigue, appetite changes, a shift in energy levels, a want to socialize or to be left alone. Assess how you are feeling, how you are acting, and be kind to yourself. In the same way that no two relationships are the same, no two breakups will follow the same unraveling and recovery.
We at Onward are here for you and appreciate there is no bandaid or magical elixir to solve these breakup-induced ailments. The formula is time, space, and reflection.
But if you are looking for some distractions: WNYC's "Death, Sex, and Money" has assembled a crowdsourced "Breakup Survival Guide," where lovely strangers have offered recommendations for Things to Think, Do, Read, Watch, and Listen To Post-Breakup. A listener took this further and developed a Breakup Survival Guide comprised of more than 400 suggestions as an alternative to social media stalking your ex.