“You do not have to heal alone. We have all experienced breakups – regardless of their connection (whether familial, friendships, work relationships etc.).”
Wise words from the psychology lecturer behind viral self-help Instagram account theholistic.coach, and possibly a sentiment that is resonating with several million people around the world this year.
Professional breakups are rampant thanks to a certain virus, with 280,000 Aussies starting a job hunt in June alone, but the COVID heartbreak extends well beyond the boardroom. Breakups and divorce rates have skyrocketed since March, as we’ve had to face many hours of one-on-one time with significant others in lockdown. Of course, many relationships have also flourished, and to those of you thriving romantically we say… why did you click on this article?
We are not the first generation in history to suffer through a pandemic, and as such a recent paper in the journal Lancet has been able to identify the behavioural reasons why mass conscious uncouplings occur; isolation-induced stress, emotional detachment, irritability and exhaustion. Ie. Relationship kryptonite.
In one study, 40 subjects had their brains scanned after being on the receiving end of a breakup (ie. they were dumped). While being scanned, they were shown pictures of their exes – the dumpers. While looking at these photos there was significant activation in the areas of the brain associated with pain, including the anterior cingulate cortex, thalamus and insula.
Further research into the physical effects of heartbreak has found those who took over-the-counter painkillers for three weeks reported less hurt feelings and social pain than those who took a placebo.
However, short of dosing up on painkillers, there are methods to ease both the emotion and physical turmoil associated with loss. For those unfortunate instances, theholistic.coach offers up the following simple but effective pointers:
MOURN the relationship, it’s future, who you were in it, who your partner was, and the ‘fantasy’ of the relationship.
AVOID TRIGGERS (eg. ‘This is – or was – our song’)
There are of course some extreme cases for which self-care isn’t the only form of healing necessary, advises theholistic.coach. “For those who have experienced abuse, you may, in particular, benefit from the assistance of a Mental Health Professional. Sometimes we simply don’t know where to start, or need someone to guide us through the process. And that’s okay.”
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, chat to a medical professional and reach out to a support hotline: