My latest essay describes simple ways to activate your parasympathetic nervous system to support the process of healing from a breakup:
“Studies of fMRI scans show that breakups affect the same areas of the brain associated with drug addiction and withdrawal. The process of ending our intimate connections with loved ones can take a profound physiological toll; no wonder it is among the most difficult human experiences.
The disruption of intimacy and the dramatic change in our routines can leave us in pain and feeling isolated; these abrupt changes literally jar our nervous system. For some people, breakups cause trauma, triggering psychological echoes of earlier wounding. Fortunately, the science of human physiology can guide us on the road to healing.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems control many of the basic functions in the human body. Put simply, the sympathetic nervous system manages our fight or flight response which has evolved to keep us safe from predators and the threats of daily living, while the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for resting, digesting, and recovery. Difficult breakups activate the sympathetic nervous system as if we were under an actual threat, often resulting in the agitation, lost appetite, and disrupted sleep that many of us feel during breakups.
My recipe for healing is quite simple: pursue activities that reactivate the parasympathetic nervous system. The more time your body spends with its parasympathetic system activated, the easier it will become to return to feelings of rest and relaxation. These periods of calm will help reregulate your nervous system and return it to its normal, pre-breakup rhythms.”
Read the full post: Using Science to Heal from a Difficult Breakup