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The Science of Mending a Broken Heart

The Science of Mending a Broken Heart

Breakups are one of life’s most difficult obstacles. You feel like you’re left to pick up the pieces of a failed life together, wondering if you’ll ever get over the pain, the disappointment, the broken heart.

It’s hard because you’ve idealized him/her unconsciously.

You’ve just lost somebody who once played a major part in your life and now you have to get through the stages of grief to get over it. Getting over a breakup is never easy, and here’s why:

During your relationship, your brain switches off the ability to judge and feel negatively about your partner. At the same time, it turns on the areas that cause you to bond with and feel attached to your partner. It’s hard to get over your ex because your brain causes you to idealize them.[1]

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Dopamine, oxytocin, testosterone – these are all the chemicals your brain produces when you’re first falling in love. They’re responsible for those butterfly feelings, the need to cuddle, the rapid heart rate, and the excitement that come with a new relationship. Addicting feelings, to say the least. What happens when you break up? The ventral segment of your brain activates, which is the same thing that happens when someone is addicted to drugs. You are literally going through withdrawal over your ex.

Breakups often happen suddenly, leaving you with little to no closure. It’s that feeling of unfinished business that makes it hard for you to get over your ex. You keep thinking about them because you were left with a void to fill, a hole to cover.[2] You feel like there’s something left to understand about the situation and you just can’t shake the feeling.

Unconsciousness is hard to control but it doesn’t mean you should just let it be.

So now you’ve justified why it’s okay for you to keep thinking about your ex. You’re just going through the stages of grief, right? Your brain is tricking you into miss them, right? So, this is normal, right?

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Well, yes, sort of. You need to forget about your ex, though, so you can move on with your life. Somewhere out there is the right person for you and you don’t want thoughts of your ex messing up your future relationship.

Instead of letting time heal, take control of how you feel.

First of all, allow yourself to process the stages of grief. Your feelings are valid and deserve to be acknowledged.

Ask yourself how not to let that happen again.

Getting over a breakup is similar to recovering from a physical injury. To recuperate after hurting yourself, you have to identify the root cause. Why? If you know the root cause, you can stop it from happening again.[3] You can give your future relationships a chance at success.

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Learn how to be alone gradually, but not right after breaking up.

The best thing to do right now is be around your friends and family. Surround yourself with community and the people you love. Doing this will help your brain produce more opioids, which are the feel good hormones. Definitely try not to be alone right now.

Get him/her out of sight.

If you’re having a hard time getting over your ex, you’re still in one of the stages of grief. The most common stage is denial, thinking that it really isn’t over or refusing to believe it. When you’re feeling this way, you’re way more likely to pick up the phone and call your ex. You’ll never be able to process your grief if you keep calling them every time you feel lonely. Do yourself a favor and delete their contact info from your phone and social media.

Keep yourself entertained.

In order to process the anger and disappointment that you’re feeling, you need to accept that one of the final stages of grief is to redirect your hope.[4] For your entire relationship, you had all of your hopes tied up in your future together. Now, you have to find that hope again and redirect it. Try keeping yourself busy with new sources of entertainment. Maybe there’s an old hobby you let fall by the wayside when the two of you were dating or maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try. Now’s the time. Being busy keeps your mind off of the past and helps you redirect your thoughts to the future.

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Moving on after a relationship ends isn’t easy. Just try to be patient with yourself, the pain won’t last forever. You’ll get through this and learn more about yourself in the process.

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

Dreams — Mysterious, bewildering, eye-opening and sometimes a nightmarish living hell. Dreams are all that and much more.

Here are 20 amazing facts about dreams that you might have never heard about:

Fact #1: You can’t read while dreaming, or tell the time

    If you are unsure whether you are dreaming or not, try reading something. The vast majority of people are incapable of reading in their dreams.

    The same goes for clocks: each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving as reported by lucid dreamers.

    Fact #2: Lucid dreaming

    There is a whole subculture of people practicing what is called lucid or conscious dreaming. Using various techniques, these people have supposedly learned to assume control of their dreams and do amazing things like flying, passing through walls, and traveling to different dimensions or even back in time.

    Want to learn how to control your dreams? You can try these tips:

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    Lucid Dreaming: This Is How You Can Control Your Dreams

    Fact #3: Inventions inspired by dreams

    Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include:

    • The idea for Google -Larry Page
    • Alternating current generator -Tesla
    • DNA’s double helix spiral form -James Watson
    • The sewing machine -Elias Howe
    • Periodic table -Dimitri Mendeleyev

    …and many, many more.

    Fact #4: Premonition dreams

    There are some astounding cases where people actually dreamt about things which happened to them later, in the exact same ways they dreamed about.

    You could say they got a glimpse of the future, or it might have just been coincidence. The fact remains that this is some seriously interesting and bizarre phenomena. Some of the most famous premonition dreams include:

    • Abraham Lincoln dreamt of His Assassination
    • Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe
    • Mark Twain’s dream of his brother’s demise
    • 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic catastrophe

    Fact #5: Sleep paralysis

    Hell is real and it is called sleep paralysis. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. I’ve been a sleep paralysis sufferer as a kid and I can attest to how truly horrible it is.

    Two characteristics of sleep paralysis are the inability to move (hence paralysis) and a sense of an extremely evil presence in the room with you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, but 100% real. Studies show that during an attack, sleep paralysis sufferers show an overwhelming amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct and the emotions of fear, terror and anxiety. Enough said!

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    Fact #6: REM sleep disorder

    In the state of REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of your sleep your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. These have resulted in broken arms, legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burnt down.

    Fact #7: Sexual dreams

    The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get up to 20 erections per dream.

    Fact #8: Unbelievable sleepwalkers

      Sleepwalking is a very rare and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is an extreme form of REM sleep disorder, and these people don’t just act out their dreams, but go on real adventures at night.

      Lee Hadwin is a nurse by profession, but in his dreams he is an artist. Literally. He “sleepdraws” gorgeous portraits, of which he has no recollection afterwards. Strange sleepwalking “adventures” include:

      • A woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking
      • A man who drove 22 miles and killed his cousin while sleepwalking
      • A sleepwalker who walked out of the window from the third floor, and barely survived

      Fact #9: Dream drug

      There are actually people who like dreaming and dreams so much that they never want to wake up. They want to continue on dreaming even during the day, so they take an illegal and extremely potent hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine. It is actually only an isolated and synthetic form of the chemical our brains produce naturally during dreaming.

      Fact #10 Dream-catcher

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        The dream-catcher is one of the most well-known Native American symbols. It is a loose web or webs woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects meant to protect against nightmares.

        Fact #11: Increased brain activity

        You would associate sleeping with peace and quiet, but actually our brains are more active during sleep than during the day.

        Fact #12: Creativity and dreams

        As we mentioned before, dreams are responsible for inventions, great artworks and are generally just incredibly interesting. They are also “recharging” our creativity.

        Scientists also say that keeping a dream diary helps with creativity.

        In rare cases of REM disorder, people actually don’t dream at all. These people suffer from significantly decreased creativity and perform badly at tasks requiring creative problem solving.

        Fact #13: Pets dream too

          Our animal companions dream as well. Watch a dog or a cat sleep and you can see that they are moving their paws and making noises like they were chasing something. Go get ’em buddy!

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          Fact #14: You always dream—you just don’t remember it

          Many people claim that they don’t dream at all, but that’s not true: we all dream, but up to 60% of people don’t remember their dreams at all.

          Fact #15: Blind people dream too

          Blind people who were not born blind see images in their dreams but people who were born blind don’t see anything at all. They still dream, and their dreams are just as intense and interesting, but they involve the other senses beside sight.

          Fact #16: In your dreams, you only see faces that you already know

            It is proven that in dreams, we can only see faces that we have seen in real life before. So beware: that scary-looking old lady next to you on the bus might as well be in your next nightmare.

            Fact #17: Dreams tend to be negative

            Surprisingly, dreams are more often negative than positive. The three most widely reported emotions felt during dreaming are anger, sadness and fear.

            Fact #18: Multiple dreams per night

            You can have up to seven different dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles you have. We only dream during the REM period of sleep, and the average person dreams one to two hours every night.

            Fact #19: Gender differences

            Interestingly, 70% of all the characters in a man’s dream are other men, but women’s dream contain an equal amount of women and men. Also men’s dreams contain a lot more aggression. Both women and men dream about sexual themes equally often.

            Fact #20: Not everyone dreams in color

            As much as 12% of people only dream in black and white.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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