Heartache is the word most people use to describe the pain we feel after a breakup. But anyone who’s suffered through a split knows that it can cause everything from headaches, to backaches, to stomach trouble. Neurobiologist Dr. Lucy Brown says that’s because the same part of our brain processes both physical pain and social rejection, so being suddenly single can make you feel physically sick. And breaking up increases levels of stress hormones, which decrease blood flow to your digestive tract, causing that ‘sick to the stomach’ feeling. Of course, the only cure is time, but psychiatrist Dr. Gary Malone says there are a couple of ways to speed up your after-breakup recovery:
First: Exercise. Working out signals the brain to release pain-fighting endorphins to ease muscle tension and soreness, and they’re also proven mood-boosters.
Another tip for surviving a breakup: Socialize. Studies show that spending time with friends lowers stress hormone levels, and increases production of the bonding hormone oxytocin. But don’t discuss your ex. Research shows that brooding over a lost love significantly increases the time it takes to recover.
Your best bet: Have one or two good cries with your best friend, and then pick yourself up, avoid the subject, and start doing the things you didn’t have time for when you were still together. Because doing the things you love, and having new experiences, has been shown to help you recover faster from a broken heart.