3 Ways to Mend a Broken Heart
There is that undeniable ache; that wrenching pain in the center of your chest. The feeling that you can’t breathe; some days you feel as if you are going to pass out, in fact there is a sense that a part of you did just die. You are heartbroken. Maybe from the loss of a friend, a family member, or someone’s decision to end a relationship. Your heart hurts, but the doctor says your cardiac labs are normal. You are ‘just’ grieving.
Though there may be no lab markers that show heart damage, there is a distinct effect of extreme emotional stress on the body. The New England Journal of Medicine, John Hopkins University and several researchers have pieced this together in various clinical and historical perspectives. Let’s sum it up in 5 statements:
- Loving Relationships
Loving relationships emphasize certain neural pathways and neurotransmitters. One of which is “brain dopamine”, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward: pleasure, satisfaction, motivation.
- Loss of Loving Relationships
Loss of a loving relationship creates a void in the emotional brain, similar to addiction withdrawal, as brain dopamine is left wanting.
In response to the brain dopamine drop, alarm signals are sent for the body to release adrenaline — the hormone created from “blood dopamine” (blood and brain don’t share neurotransmitters) — along with other stress hormones and protein peptides.
- A Flood of Hormones
In their frenzy, these stress hormones flood and stun the heart.
- Lower Functioning
Temporarily, during this flood, the heart has a lowered ability to function, creating heart attack like symptoms.
In sum, Broken Heart Syndrome (also known as stress cardiomyopathy) is a phenomenon that can occur when an individual is under extreme loss-of-love stress.
Medicine has recognized that heartbreak can be a physical phenomenon. It’s not all in your head, my dear.
The Events That Hit the Hardest
Although many of us have made it through stressful events unscathed, there are some of us whom these events hit harder, for various reasons. In the latter individual, it is quite possible for their feelings to actually create physical pain. A broken heart can manifest in heart attack symptoms, where no physical damage has occurred. There are no long term effects on the heart, but during the time of your emotional helplessness, your heart is literally rendered helpless as well.*
Possibly, the oft analyzed love suicide of Juliet for Romeo that Shakespeare wrote of, is the dagger that demonstrates the helplessness of the heart during tragic love. Maybe those men of olde really knew much more about our how our hearts function than we thought.
The most stressful events in the Holmes and Rahe Life Stressor scale? Death of a Spouse and Divorce. As you take a closer look at the stressors, many of them are based in disappointment or lost love. Broken hearts are the number one source of stress in our society. These sources leave no evidence outside of tears and days of full of chips and Netflix.
Time does heal all wounds it is true, and fortunately stress cardiomyopathy heals as well. But there must be something we can do to mend ourselves in the meantime. We can emerge as bright and resilient lovers, rather than frightened and traumatized soldiers.
Tips to Mend a Broken Heart
Gaia’s [The Yogi’s Heart(/series/yogis-heart) meditation and yoga guide can help you open and heal your heart.
Plus, here are three more tips to mend a broken heart.
1. Take Rhodiola Root
Under the supervision of a Naturopathic Doctor, this is a powerful little herb that grows in the tundra and modulates your adrenaline rushes. So powerful in fact, that it interacts with other medications, so it needs to be monitored by someone who knows herbs and drugs. When the devastating new hits, Rhodiola can help your emotional body digest it slowly, at a pace that your heart can handle.
2. Take Hugs from friends
Ask your friends for hugs. Not the kind where you are crying on their shoulder, but the kind where you both give and receive. Touching another human being whom you feel safe around releases oxytocin, a hormone that can shut down those heart-breaking stress hormones. Realize that touch is part of what you are missing.
3. Take a break on the heart openers
Instead, do 5 power poses every day:
Utkata Konasana – Goddess, or Fiery Angle Pose. Get strong get grounded, build strength in your powerful legs and gluteus muscles. Gain the ability to support yourself.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana – Handstand or Dog on the wall. Flip your perspective. Practice holding yourself up. That is what handstand is all about. Trust your own hands.
Vrksasana – Tree. Root down and rise up. Balance. If you want to grow from this experience, you’d best find your roots, and grow some new branches.
Virabhadrasana II– Warrior II. Take up more room, allow yourself to be pulled in several directions, while you stay steady, holding upright in the center.
If you really want to do a backbend/heart openers, make it one of these two only:
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge) or Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) with this particular focus: The strength in your arms and legs is more valuable right now than the bending of your back. Try to lengthen rather than curve your back. In Wheel, only if you are steady, bend and straighten your elbows like upside down push-ups.
Then, always. Breathe.
- Note: If you are experiencing chest pain that resembles heart attack symptoms, please go to a hospital before diagnosing yourself with Stress Cardiomyopathy.
20 Empowering Spiritual Reasons to Start Loving Yourself
Self-love gets confused at times with narcissism. Loving yourself doesn’t mean you’re self-centered or only thinking about yourself. It doesn’t mean railroading other people in order to get what you want. It’s about taking care of yourself in the best way possible. It means owning your own power and acting from a place of kindness towards yourself. This way, you are ready to love others, having revitalized your own spirit.
This is what happens when we love ourselves:
- Renewing our spirits: we let go of negative forces in our lives, like blame, shame, and anger. We place the space with positive influences, such as ownership, creation, and power.
- Empowering ourselves: instead of miring ourselves in self-doubt, we feel, hear, and believe in our power. The opinions of others don’t count for anything; what matters is how we feel about ourselves.
- Giving ourselves peace: our spirits are still and calm. We accept ourselves — including our strengths and weaknesses — unconditionally.
- Owning our lives: responsibility for our own actions is a key part of any spiritually mature person’s life. We recognize that we are the source of all happiness. We are the source of the power to change our futures, careers, relationships, passion, compassion, empathy and authenticity. We have the power to change our own lives.
- Connecting with the world around us: we let go of loneliness and embrace a deeper connection and sense of oneness with the world, people included.
- Living to our potential: we allow ourselves to show up in the world and live our purpose. We aren’t afraid to pursue what fulfills us.
- Overflow of our love to others: the more we look at ourselves with love, the more we practice love and acceptance toward those around us. We let go of thoughts that negate our reality (ideas of what people should be or how they ought to react), and we become lovers of what is, accepting it and people.
- Embracing our humanity: we understand that we aren’t perfect and we allow ourselves to be human. We accept the mistakes and failures we have, and we invite vulnerability into our lives.
- Being enough for ourselves: proving ourselves in the eyes of others is not worth our time. We understand that we don’t need to impress anyone. We know that we are enough.
- Living courageously: we are no longer ruled by fear, because we know that love is the strongest power of all. When we choose love over fear, we become stress-free beings and improve the overall quality of our lives.
- Living freely: we let go of competition and comparing ourselves to others. Therefore, we’ll always be enough.
- Living creatively: when we love ourselves, we give birth to creativity, inspiration and openness. We inspire our hearts again to follow what our spirits celebrate.
- Accepting our lives: we understand reality instead of blaming and fighting it, because we know that love is in every corner. We hold on to our lives with a loose, loving grip.
- Bringing harmony to others: We attract accord, peace, spaciousness, and significance in our relationships. The self knows how to love better, and spreads it to other people.
- Accepting failure: we find courage to accept failure because we know that it is one step closer to growth, and our significance isn’t dependent on what we produce.
- Letting ourselves grow: we let go of keeping ourselves small in this world and allow growth instead, just like the tree that grows to provide shade and food for an infinite number of people. The more we grow, the more we spread love and joy.
- Handling stress: when we love ourselves, we become aware of our stressful thoughts and how we react when think them. We question their truthfulness and we choose to turn them around and invite stillness instead into our lives.
- Securing ourselves: We feel safe because we know that we will always be right here for ourselves.
- Dazzling naturally: we shine without working for it or fighting to get it.
- Living abundantly: we move from scarcity to abundance in every area of life without the need to fight or push to get it.