You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Healthy Living: When love hurts, your brain feels the pain
Have you ever been in a relationship that came to an abrupt end? If so, you fully understand why heartbreak is an appropriate description of what you felt. You don’t have to be left at the altar to feel intense feelings of rejection. Maybe a friendship fades away or ends in misunderstanding or a falling out. Heartbreak takes many forms when love appears to be lost. The worst part can be living with the pain of rejection.
If you’ve known heartache, you know that emotional pain feels as real as physical pain even though there are no physical injuries, conditions, or visual scars to contend with. So why can emotional pain make you feel like you’ve fallen off a horse and don’t know how to get back on your feet again?
The answer is in your brain. New cognitive neuroscience research tells us that heartbreak is similar to experiencing actual physical pain. That’s because our brain triggers sensations in reaction to emotional heartbreak that make our body feel like it has been subjected to physical pain. Researchers who have analyzed people who suffered from an intense rejection say that rejection is so painful it appears to be similar to how people feel when they’ve been physically hurt.
One reason for the pain is that intense emotions that are present with a broken relationship are hard to let go. It’s easy for people to want to review every event leading up to a lost relationship, over and over again. They feel compelled to find out how they could have done things differently. Sad memories only make them feel worse.
Neuroscience researchers have found that when participants (whose brains were scanned) were asked to think about heartbreak or were shown a photo of the one that got away, their brain reacted as if their body was feeling physical pain.
What can we learn from heartache knowing how our brains react to emotional pain? Here are some ideas:
•Don’t minimize the pain you feel. Tell yourself that you will feel better over time. Just like the old adage that says time heals all wounds, give yourself time. Don’t rush a renewal of these complex emotions.
•Take one day at a time. Tell yourself you will get through this.
•Pay attention to symptoms and signs of depression like insomnia, or a loss of appetite. If these signs persist, talk to someone who is experienced in treating depression.
•Take time to be good to yourself. Make certain you put something on your calendar every day that you can look forward to. It could be as simple as reading a new book or inviting a friend over to watch TV and chat.
•Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Quality sleep will help you greet each day with renewed optimism.
•Don’t isolate yourself. Build your confidence by connecting with people. After a rejection, reach out to new friends as well as people who you haven’t seen in a while.
•Look for opportunities to build self-esteem by accomplishing something new. Maybe you wanted to take a woodworking class or learn a new language. Start searching for activities that interest you. You’ll feel good about yourself when you take that first step toward a new beginning.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
(NOT May 30!) Let your imagination take shape June 30 (May 25, 2016)
Canine care helps heal community’s most vulnerable (May 25, 2016)
Divine healing training June 2-4 (May 25, 2016)
Future collectibles (May 25, 2016)
Getting past a stroke (May 25, 2016)
Musical Club tours Helmke home (May 25, 2016)
Ousley fund-raiser May 28 (May 25, 2016)
Picnic and memorial service (May 25, 2016)
Save the date for June 2 Opry Jam (May 25, 2016)
Small town, big hearts (May 25, 2016)
The stuff of which sausage is made (May 25, 2016)
Unwind, de-stress with coffee and crayons (May 25, 2016)
What you can do to prevent asthma (May 25, 2016)
Witness live wrestling at Retama Park (May 25, 2016)
Attend the 38th annual Bluebonnet Fest Parade May 21 (May 18, 2016)
Baptist church plans Men’s, Women’s Day (May 18, 2016)
Cocktail dress (May 18, 2016)
Desperate search for old photo reveals city’s lack of memorabilia (May 18, 2016)
Learn about gardening practices (May 18, 2016)
Play golf for Peanut Festival (May 18, 2016)
Setting forth in search of froth (May 18, 2016)
Sign up for Summer Reading! (May 18, 2016)
Sutherland Springs bank bandits sentenced (May 18, 2016)
Tickets on sale for June 21 Taste of Seguin (May 18, 2016)
Boldtville Church Yard Sale is May 14 (May 11, 2016)
Create interactive games, stories with Scratch (May 11, 2016)
Enter 2017 Fiesta Poster Contest (May 11, 2016)
Extraordinary minds teaching our kids (May 11, 2016)
Healing ADD without medication (May 11, 2016)
Luffa vase (May 11, 2016)
May means dancing in Geronimo (May 11, 2016)
Meet the Miss La Vernia contestants (May 11, 2016)
Resurrection UMC plans Fun Fest (May 11, 2016)
Spring comes to Blue Bonnet Club (May 11, 2016)
Swing dance in Seguin (May 11, 2016)
Tracking down a little history in Hobson (May 11, 2016)
Union Valley meeting set (May 11, 2016)
Basketball tournament May 14 (May 4, 2016)
Boy Scout celebration stirs up memories (May 4, 2016)
British Royals (May 4, 2016)
Celebrating decades of memories and music with the‘Texas Top Hands’ (May 4, 2016)
Create a yard with bird appeal (May 4, 2016)
Cruise into Floresville for Lions Car Show (May 4, 2016)
Find cheap books at Sidewalk Sale (May 4, 2016)
Hear six pianos in one room May 7 (May 4, 2016)
Hermann Sons Casino Night to benefit CASA (May 4, 2016)
Road Runners plan May group runs (May 4, 2016)
‘Battle for Texas’ now open in SA (May 4, 2016)
‘Lily pads’ for kids (May 4, 2016)