Betrayal. Disbelief. Distrust. A broken heart learns all these and more. The broken heart also recognises or confirms these as it attempts to pick up the shattered pieces – or leave them altogether and attempts to rebuild itself from scratch as it goes on a healing journey. The broken heart either had a rude shock or a defeated sigh as the adversity pours over it like a warm liquid that is often supposed to comfort but is now suffocating and dulling the entire self.
What is happening? What does experiencing a broken heart actually mean?
Medically, the name for a syndrome that can be influenced by a broken heart is called “Takotubo Cardiomyopathy”1. This type of cardiomyopathy occurs when there is a significant amount of stress physically and mentally (emotionally), causing the heart muscle to weaken or enter a state of shock2. When a person experiences a broken heart, the acute emotional stress1 can thus result in the left ventricle of the heart entering into a state of shock. Although this can feel like a heart attack, it is not as damaging and lasts for a short time. When this condition starts to feel like it is never going away or that things are spiraling downwards as the months go by, it is time to seek professional support.
A person can experience a heartbreak in various ways. If you have ever been in a relationship that ended by you or your partner, you can recall that period where you did not feel like doing anything except to stare into space and repeatedly thought about what could have been done to make things better, or perhaps you struggled to sleep on several nights and started bingeing on late night snacks or movies for hours and so on. People around you may have noticed that you appeared distracted and distant, and have expressed concerns about your wellbeing. You may even try to contact your ex partner in an attempt to maintain a friendship (if you were the one who terminated the relationship) or look for ways to reconcile (if you were the one who did not want the relationship to end).
While oxytocin3 has the potential to fix the effects of a broken heart, you could do the following:
- Recognise what has happened and what is currently happening in your life
- Notice your feelings and mood shifts on a daily basis
- Stay connected with your friends and family
- Take time out to do the things that you love and enjoy
- Eat healthily and get exercising
- Take up a new hobby and make new friends
- Establish a healthy sleep routine
- Journal your thoughts, feelings and reflections
- Try out a new art and craft
- Go for walks
- Make a trip to check out places
- Learn something new
And many more. You need to get creative and take that first step into trying out these activities either by yourself and/or with others. There will be moments where you really don’t feel like doing anything at all. When these moments appear, you can let yourself observe your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. You do not have to make yourself do anything. You can choose another day to do the activities too. Take your time and space to go at a pace that you are comfortable with.
Take one step at a time.
- Queensland Government. (2022). https://www.health.qld.gov.au/
- Vincent’s Hospital Heart Health. (2022). https://www.svhhearthealth.com.au/
- Neuroscience News. (2022). https://neurosciencenews.com/oxytocin-heart-cell-regeneration-21559/