Heartbroken? Take Some Aspirin.
Are the differences between emotional and physical pain really that big? Water Mischel, a professor of psychology at Columbia University, has asked the same question many times. He believes that not only are psychological and physical pain closely linked, he even suggests that treating emotional pain could be as simple as mending physical afflictions.
The Root of Your Pain
But how deep does the link between physical and emotional pain go? Mischel says, “When we speak about rejection experiences in terms of physical pain, it is not just a metaphor – the broken heart and emotional pain really do hurt in a physical way. When you look at a picture of the one who broke your heart, you experience a pain in a similar area of the brain which is activated when you burn your arm.”
These findings are in line with numerous studies on the connection of psychological and physiological discomfort, and experimentation actually suggests that non-prescription painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen might be able to dull a metaphorical aching heart in the same way they dull a headache. Research subjects given these over-the-counter painkillers were better able to deal with rejection and heartache than those given a placebo.
Talking it Out or Moving On?
Of course, medication isn’t the only way to get over a bad breakup. Talking things out with your friends and mulling things over can help you move on… right? According to Professor Mischel, the opposite seems to be closer to the truth. “Common wisdom suggests that if we thoroughly revisit our negative experiences to try to understand why they happened, we’ll eventually be able to move on. However, new research is showing that some people only get worse by continuing to brood and ruminate.”
A cheap health insurance plan could help you obtain the aid of a therapist during an emotionally charged time. According to Mischel, for breakups, however, recounting the experience to a professional can simply reopen old wounds, giving you more chance to dwell on the negative instead of looking towards a more positive future. Distancing yourself from the breakup can give you time to focus on your next goals without giving your mind opportunities to dwell on the past. This “self-distancing” method has already been shown to lower the physiological symptoms of stress such as increased blood pressure.
Mischel continues with, “Each time they recount the experience to themselves, their friends or their therapist, they only become more depressed. Self-distancing, in contrast, allows them to get a more objective view, without reactivating their pain, and helps them get past the experience.”
Of course, getting over a stressful or regrettable past event can be incredibly difficult regardless of the situation, and everyone deals with stress differently. Many health insurance plans give you the freedom to find what works best for you, so be sure to purchase a health insurance plan as soon as possible if you’re suffering from pain – physical or emotional.