Brokenhearted: Can a Broken Heart Physically Hurt You?

You can’t separate your body from your emotions. What affects one affects the other. So, it makes sense that, even though heartbreak is emotional, we can still feel physical effects from the pain of a broken heart.

I’m sorry you’re going through such a difficult time. But I’m hoping that being able to identify what’s causing you pain and discomfort will help you talk about how you’re experiencing it in your mind and body so that you can find some relief.

Heartbreak Impacts Mental Health

Heartbreak is often connected with a sudden, unexpected loss:

  • Loss of relationship: This is what we experience when going through a breakup
  • Loss of intimacy: This loss of closeness with a friend can happen after a fight, or after a big life change like a cross-country move
  • Loss of a loved one or pet: Few things are more heartbreaking than death and dying

Heartbreak isn’t just feeling sad for a day or two. You’re grieving what you’ve lost. That grief can cause:

  • Feelings of depression, anxiety, or abandonment
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • Anger
  • Crying spells

Your heartbreak is unique to your situation. But take some time to think about how you’re experiencing it in your mind. That will make it easier to connect heartbreak with the physical pain going on in your body.

Mental Health Impacts Physical Health

All of that stress and strain is not going to go unnoticed by our bodies. When I think back on heartbreak I’ve experienced, I remember the pain of missing the person I cared about. I remember the exhaustion I felt. I thought I was never going to be able to get back to normal.

But our bodies heal. And our broken hearts can heal, too.

Recovering from Heartbreak: Start with Simple Self-Care

Psychologist Guy Winch has spent a lot of time studying the science of our emotions and how they impact our lives. When talking about healing from heartbreak, he often speaks of “emotional first aid”. Our bodies and minds need the same care, effort, and attention to heal during a difficult time.

Start with simple self-care routines to help your body strengthen and heal after heartbreak. Try things like:

  • Snacking on fruit and vegetables (and drinking a glass of water) when you start to feel depleted.
  • Moving and stretching your body throughout the day to stimulate blood flow, relax tense muscles, and keep your energy up.
  • Going for a walk through your neighborhood. The simple act of getting out of the house for some fresh air can help you reset faster and focus on things outside your heartbreak.

As you make an effort to care for your mind and body, don’t forget your spirit. Even if your broken heart has made you lose faith, God is still closer to you than you know during heartbreak. Reaching out to Him in prayer, asking someone to pray for you, or going to a special place where you feel spiritual peace will make a difference.

Trust me, you will get through this. Healing a broken heart is possible. And if you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry. You don’t have to go through this alone.

TheHopeLine has the resources and support you need to talk about heartbreak in ways that help you find hope and healing. Talk to a HopeCoach when you’re heartbroken: they can help you make a plan for better self-care and a healthier outlook. Whatever you’re going through, we are here for you.

Looking for answers? Watch this video as a licensed counselor, Gretchen Lawson, answers the question, "How do I get over a broken heart?" 

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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