Warning - Divorce Is Dangerous To Your Health!
Warning - Divorce Is Dangerous To Your Health!
No one who's been through a break-up can deny how utterly miserable it feels. Any way you look at it, breaking-up is hard to do and soul-destroying. When left by a person you’ve loved more than anything you’d do anything to change their mind. And feel helpless in the face of their rejection. If it's been a mutual decision these are often accompanied by much to-ing and fro-ing, terrific ups and downs during the decision process. You two hurtle through the process questioning, “should we break-up, make-up, stay together, separate?” And even if you're the one who's decided to leave, most people leave because they've been terribly unhappy.
Not only do people experience many painful emotions – grief, rage, regret, hopelessness - but many describe a real physical hurt. It's been reported that Heather Mills McCartney has felt an actual physical pain in the bloody aftermath of her break-up from Sir Paul. What's fascinating, if it wasn’t so sad, is there may be something in such feelings. Recent research from the University of Texas shows that the stresses and strains of relationship breakdown can trigger long-term cardiovascular problems in women. It's staggering to think that divorcing women have a 50 per cent increased risk of heart disease compared to women who never divorce. This wasn’t found to be true for men.
With roughly 40 per cent of marriages ending in divorce and cohabiting relationships breaking down at twice that rate, as a life coach and agony aunt I'm concerned with huge levels of emotional distress in this process. But in light of this medical research it's even more important women heal a broken heart in proactive ways.
No one can claim to be unscathed by a serious break-up so here’s my guide to help you through the worst –
- · I find that good old-fashioned pride stops many people from asking for support from loved ones after break-up. Let people that care about you know what you’re going through.
- · Enlist a crisis buddy to help you avoid making regrettable decisions. For example, at midnight when you’re lonely it may seem a good idea to ring up your ex and beg them to come back but call your crisis buddy instead. This should be a trusted friend who’ll talk you down from this self-humiliation.
- · Learn to “think in ink”. Keep a diary or write a letter to yourself. Even write a letter to your ex that you do NOT post. It's absolutely true that people who write down how they're feeling, their hopes and dreams for the future, etc., mend sooner.
- · Choose the one thing you always wanted to do that your ex didn't want to. Go on, it's time to do it! Maybe they thought it’d be a bore taking that wine course you wanted to or they laughed when you suggested joining the local amateur dramatics society. By going ahead with such plans you take a big step forward to finding out that life can be fun, different and exciting without your ex by your side.
- · Recovery is a roller-coaster! Don't be shocked when a good day - one where you're feeling quite upbeat about the break-up - is swiftly followed by a bad day. Allow yourself to go with the flow. When feeling tearful pick up the phone and let your friends and family know you need “a shoulder”. On a good day, equally pick up that phone, but do it to make plans to go to an exciting new restaurant that’s opening or to see a new film that's out.
- · This is the perfect time to spoil yourself with a new haircut, outfit, or hobby to signal the new you! If money is tight you can always go along for a free makeovers at the cosmetic counter of a department store for a quick boost.
- · Know when to let go of the topic of your break-up so you don't become a ' break-up bore'. Ask friends to tactfully let you know when you drone on about your ex too much. Simply by changing the conversation you may find your mood changes.
- Do you have "rose-coloured spectacles" that need dumping? Many people find the recovery after a break-up is speedier if they actually look back at what their ex and their past relationship was like. It wasn't all perfect and fantastic or else it wouldn't have ended.
- · It's important to boost your mood through every way possible including boosting the release of those feel-good, brain chemicals - endorphins. Do this by playing your favourite music, laughing at a comedy DVD, exercising, or even going for a brisk walk. Adopt your own anthem that symbolises a new beginning. Why do you think Gloria Gaynor’s 'I Will Survive' was such a massive hit? Because people could seize its powerful message. My personal favourite after my divorce was ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ by D:REAM.
- · If you find yourself obsessing about your ex try what I call "heartbreak time". Each day gaze at their photo for 15 minutes. Turn off your mobile, TV and radio. After 15 minutes of such focusing, tell yourself you've done your heartbreak time and you won't think of your ex the rest of this day. You'll soon find you can cut this down to 10 minutes, then five minutes each day, until the point where thoughts of your ex bore you!
Taking these steps may just protect your heart - emotionally and physically. Finally, it's quite common to feel extremely depressed for two to three weeks after a major break-up. After that you should start having some better days interspersed with sad ones. However if real despair continues longer then this consult your doctor about depression.
Published in The Express Newspaper