Healing Heartbreak


Our world is full of instagram perfect photos, air brushed models living the good life and positive slogans like, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  It can seem like we should always be striving for the positive and the perfect, brushing the negative moments of life aside with a smile and our chins up.  So when the inevitable happens and heartbreak strikes, it can hit us like a tonne of bricks.  Our world tips upside down and can suddenly seem very dark, often leaving us struggling to breathe through the tears, wondering why the universe seemed to feel the need to sucker punch us in the guts.  Life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns. We need the sour to appreciate the sweet.  The tears and tantrums, so we can appreciate those heart swelling, joyful moments that much more. Like the saying goes, nothing lasts forever; and thank goodness for that because when you find yourself nursing a broken heart, this thought can often be the only life raft to cling on too.  

Heartbreak can take all sorts of forms, it could be the absolute tragedy of losing a loved one, the sorrow of a good friendship falling apart, a beloved pet passing away, a diagnosis that will change your life forever, or if your like me, you could have a seemingly solid marriage disintegrate before your eyes, breaking your heart into a million pieces in the process.  How do you then, honour the process you are going through and also start to mend and heal that shattered heart of yours?

Firstly, know you are not alone.  At some stage we will all feel this pain.  It may not seem like it when you're crying a river of tears or fighting back the pain that threatens to engulf you, but if you let it, this heart break will forge you into a stronger more compassionate person. You can grow from heart break into a more fantastic version of yourself, or you can allow it to twist you, making your heart close off from bitterness, the choice is yours.  If your heartbreak is from someone deceiving you, remember this says more about them and their character, than you.  You were open enough to trust and love and that is always a wonderful, beautiful thing that the world needs more of.  Here are some steps to begin your road to healing your heart.

Assemble your support team.  Find yourself a trusted friend or therapist, life coach or family member that you can talk through your emotions and thoughts with.  Someone who will be there to help you up when you're feeling low and to be the voice of reason when you find yourself either spiralling into angst or self blame. Journal those feelings, write letters to the person/s who caused your heartbreak (send them if you wish or burn them safely to symbolise letting the past go), get it all out onto tear stained paper so your emotions don't eat you up inside.  Listen to uplifting podcasts, or read books to help you reframe the event that caused you pain.  I found the work of Byron Katie and Brene Brown to be particularly helpful with the process of healing a broken heart.  

Be gentle with yourself.  Grief and healing your heart can often take some time.  It can feel like one step forward and two steps back.  Remember that heartbreak has real, physical effects on the body.  Your brain doesn't know the difference between emotional pain and physical pain and so it reacts as though you have physically hurt yourself.  You will also be flooded with stress hormones, such as cortisol, which causes you to feel tense, more prone to sore muscles and headaches etc.  So be kind with your self talk, treat yourself with nutritious food, practice some form of mindfulness often and move your body.  Gentle exercise like yoga, stretches your connective tissue, helping  to release stored emotions, whilst running, dancing or going to the gym can help to boost your endorphins, so that you feel happier. 

Essential oils can be used in a diffuser (5-6 drops in water) around your home or work space to help boost your mood or provide you with feelings of comfort.  Citrus oils such as orange and lemon can make you feel brighter and uplifted, whilst essential oils such as Sandalwood, Patchouli and Rose can make you feel grounded and safe.

Try switching up your hot beverage in times of heartbreak to either; Matcha tea (1-2 cups per day)  as it is full of antioxidants and the amino acid, L-theanine, which allows you to feel clear and calm. Or try Cacao husk tea.  It smells and tastes like chocolate, and is again rich in antioxidants and magnesium, plus it has the added bonus of being a good source of mood boosting Theobromine.

There are many great medicinal plants that your medical herbalist can mix in a herbal formula for you, to help elevate mood and support you through your heartbreak  Some wonderful ones are;

Passionflower for reducing anxiety,  and helping you find relief from those circling, racing thoughts.  Passionflower is also great if you are having issues getting to sleep at night.

California Poppy for lessening anxiety and emotional stress, reducing headaches and improving sleep

Hawthorn, which in addition to being wonderful for heart health issues, is also helpful in reducing mild anxiety.

Lemon Balm is wonderful for boosting low mood, reducing irritability, helping you to sleep and reduce feelings of anxiety.

Green Oats for supporting and nourishing the nervous system, providing stamina in challenging times and reducing insomnia.

There are so many more medicinal plants that can be of help such as, Rose, Schisandra, Turmeric, Lavender etc that no matter how heartbreak is presenting for you, a medicinal formula can be made to support your unique needs.  There are also many supplements that can be helpful in times of heartbreak, it is best to see your medical herbalist/naturopath to safely advise you on correct dosage and avoid possible contraindications.  

Bach flower remedies and homeopathic remedies can also be helpful in helping to support you as you move through stages of grief and start to heal again.  For example, the homeopathic remedy Ignatia is said to help move suppressed emotions and help to lessen weepiness.  Where, as the Bach flower remedy Mimulus, is said to help you to face your fears and have the courage to face life's challenges.  These are just examples, there are many more remedies to help heal a broken heart.

Please remember, there is no set time frame for you to be over a broken heart.  It takes as long as it takes.  Give yourself the gift of time and allow your self to move through the stages of healing at your own pace.  Surround yourself with loving people.  Do activities that bring you joy or make you feel a sense of gratitude or purpose (such as volunteering).  Get out into nature and marvel at the beauty you find.  Be kind to yourself and seek support if you become overwhelmed.  If you find yourself entering an emotionally dark, depressed state, speak to your health professional or find help from such places as www.depression.org.nz

And above all remember you are not alone and you are LOVED