A good friend of mine called me the other day. Her boyfriend broke up with her the day before and now? She was sick as a dog. “My life sucks,” she croaked. “It’s not bad enough I got dumped… now I get the flu.”
Sound familiar? If you’re anything like my friend, breakups literally make you physically sick. I’ve seen it happen to my relationship coaching clients… heck, I’ve gone through it myself. If you’re coping with a breakup and suffering from what I call ‘Breakup Flu’, keep reading. I’ll tell you exactly why you’re feeling sick, and how to start feeling better fast.
Is it normal to get physically sick after a breakup?
Everybody knows breakups are stressful. What some people don’t know is just how stress affects your body. Your immune system crashes, leaving you vulnerable to catching whatever bug happens to be going around. Not only that, stress brings along symptoms of its own. Here are the most common physical symptoms I’ve seen (and experienced) that come on after a breakup:
- racing heart
- upset stomach
- numbness in hands, fingers, feet
- cold/flu symptoms – coughing, congestion, fever, aches and pains
How to overcome feeling sick after a breakup
The stress and anxiety of your breakup are causing your symptoms. Here’s how to treat the stress, so your symptoms clear up quickly:
1. Take a day or two off. Breakup Flu is grounds for calling in sick (just don’t tell them that’s what you have!) You’ll need some time to focus on taking care of yourself, and added stress from work doesn’t help. Then you need to…
2. Learn how to relax yourself. Find what works for you to get your body and mind to release tension. If your mind starts racing and you feel physical anxiety, stop and take some deep breaths, or do some light exercise. If you’re achy, lie down with a heating pad or take a hot bath. Distract your mind – read magazines, do a hobby you like, or watch funny movies (or, if you’re like my friend, crime shows…Bill Curtis from American Justice makes her feel better!) If all else fails, sleep. Which leads me to…
3. Cut the caffeine. Coffee, energy drinks and soda contain caffeine, which will increase your heart rate, keep you awake and add to the jitters in your stomach. If you must have caffeine, try tea or go for half-caf coffee. Or, stick to one caffeinated drink per day, and keep the rest decaf. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try herbal ‘relaxation’ teas or supplements containing Valerian root, chamomile, catnip or lavender.
4. Avoid sugar and junk food. Loading up on ‘comfort food’ may make you feel better emotionally (for about a minute), but it isn’t doing your body any favors. Cakes, candy and chips don’t have the nutrients you need to get your immune system back on track. But at the same time…
5. You gotta eat. Stick to nutritious stuff: meats, veggies, fruits, eggs. If you’re like me and have no appetite when you’re stressed, try soups (chicken soup is good). It’s a good idea to take a daily multi-vitamin as well. If your stomach is really upset, peppermint or ginger tea will help ease it.