Last week many lovers shared a special time together on Valentine’s Day celebrating their love together. However, there were many of us that were not with a partner and some of us were experiencing a heart break, myself included. Going through a divorce or breakup creates a cascade of physical symptoms, emotional upheavals, mental ruminations, and spiritually, asking why and what grace may be received to ease the pain or even have your partner back.
In going through a split-up, this trauma propelled me into studying the health risks to understand what my body and mind have been experiencing. It’s evident that what we go through physically and emotionally takes some toll. The loss experienced in break-ups include that of security, a family life, the sexual relationship, a home, and even more, there are long-term health consequences that result.
The University of Arizona review of 30 studies found a 23% increased risk of early death in divorced adults when compared to those married. Divorced men fair worse than women with higher rates of substance abuse (70% of chronic drinkers are the divorced male), suicide (2.5 times greater risk than married men), and increase in weight (suggesting that food selection is still often done by the women). Divorced women have higher rates of cardiovascular disease (11% in divorced woman versus 7.3% of married woman). In both men and women, studies suggest increase cancer rates, insomnia, and mental health illnesses.
How can we help minimize these impressive statistics while navigating through the troubled waters of a broken heart? Here are some recommendations that will help reduce some of the immediate physical and emotional symptoms, but also knowing that the journey through the loss and the grief can be mindfully explored while being with this difficult process.
- Keep a journal. Write about your experience and get out of your head which helps to break the mental rumination and monkey mind.
- A strong support system that supports your grieving process in a positive direction by holding space and being present with the experience. Remember to move toward the positive here and not getting into blame and negativity as this will keep you stuck instead of healing.
- Learn to express yourself and your emotions. Placing your hands over your heart and drop into the sensations felt there instead of being distracted into thought.
- Simply your life during this time so you can move through this process mindfully instead of staying so busy that you don’t completely heal. Having time to grieve is important to heal your life.
- Know that drugs and alcohol are not effective strategies to healing. Escaping into drugs and alcohol will not allow a complete healing to occur and may lead to dependency issues. The statistics certainly suggest this.
- Improve health protective behaviors. Healthy meal selections, get 7-8 hours sleep each night, nap if you’re having sleep disruption during the process, exercise daily to help reduce anxiety.
- Laughter always helps! Watch funny movies, get together with your family and friends that seem to bring out the laughter.