When a man got the “Dear John” treatment from his girlfriend recently, his Fitbit tracked his heartbreak, a dramatic and 21st-century snapshot of what happens to your heart when your emotional heart gets trashed.
Indeed, not only do your emotions suffer when you get bad news, or are for whatever reason distressed, angry, fearful-your heart, your cardiovascular system, feels the hurt. Something scientists have proven repeatedly, study after study.
But here’s the thing: when your heart gets hijacked by something wrong happening-usually unexpected, you can get it back into a healthier place, and in the process, soothe yourself into a better place.
Why does this matter? Because over time, letting negative feelings yank your heart rate around damages your cardiovascular system. It’s not good for your physical well-being for your heart to perform in “fight or flight” mode, which is what it does when you get angry, upset, or frightened for a long time. In a sense, it wears your heart down, which impacts all sorts of other bodily functions, as well as your potential longevity.
Not to mention the toll it’s taking on your everyday happiness quotient.
Get your heart back! All it takes is a dose of appreciation. I know, that sounds like so much hooey! And indeed, I don’t appreciate the heartbreak. Puh-leeze.
Appreciate that you have friends or family you can talk to, people in your life who value and love you, and who are there to support you through whatever that you have a cat/dog/iguana/canary, who loves you regardless of what your Heartbreaking Other thinks of you. That there are “broken hearts” resources all over the web, in addition to counselors, pastors and others who can be robust supports.
Appreciate whatever it is that you can learn from this experience. There’s always something to learn. Whether it’s to set better boundaries, get better at asking for what you want and need, becoming a better listener; there’s always “better.”
And what about the little things? The daily hassles such as the driver who cut you off. The fifteen times you had to drive around the parking lot to find a space. The alarm that failed to go off and made you late for that oh-so-important appointment. Your boss is passing you over for that promotion you know you deserve. The 1000th time you had that same argument with your mother/spouse/child. Need I go on?
Your irritation, frustration, and annoyance won’t hijack your heart like the big things, but the little things wear on you too. Recent research shows that the more you react negatively to everyday stuff, the more likely you are to have a psychological disorder a decade later. Yikes! And with that, there’s increased potential for your physical well-being to be impacted as well.
Be good to yourself. Work on appreciating whatever you can in the situation: the driver cut you off, but all is well, no accident. You had to park far: walking is good for you. The alarm failed: appreciate that you can re-schedule the appointment, and can get a new alert, so that doesn’t happen again. You didn’t get the promotion: appreciate the opportunity to learn why and can take measures accordingly. That argument? Appreciate that you can learn new communication skills and resolve your dispute once and for all.
Yes, it takes some effort, and I agree, the pity-party can be oh-so-satisfying. But in the long run, learning to appreciate, release, and let go as soon as you can, will benefit both your physical and emotional heart.