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Healing from Heartbreak

Healing from Heartbreak

When Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) watched their live-in relationship decay in The Breakup, they got it half right: Each one spent time reflecting on what happened, kvetched to their friends, and thought about where they were headed -- as a single person. The half wrong? They both insisted on remaining in the apartment they owned together -- not wanting the other to get it. A University of Arizona study points out that in real life such behavior interferes with the "self-concept reorganization" you have to go through to separate yourself from your ex and the relationship.

Breakups are difficult and take a toll physically and emotionally. For most folks they trigger an almost to-the-max stress response. Brain centers that respond to physical pain are activated when you feel heartbreak. And “broken heart syndrome” is a condition than can cause physical chest pain and shortness of breath that seems like a heart attack. It isn’t!  

That’s why if you’re dealing with a break-up, acknowledge what’s lousy and hurts. But take the opportunity to manage the stress and start fresh! Make an effort to spend more time with friends and family. Do one adventurous act a week -- volunteer at a soup kitchen (think more of others than yourself); take a class. (Pottery? History? Italian?) Go for a new look -- get a new hairstyle, grow a beard (guys). Expect to feel sad sometimes, but don’t let it define you. Remember YOU are the captain of your life-ship. Right the bow and full speed ahead!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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