Whether you’re the breakup-er or the breakup-ee, ending a relationship hurts. You feel sad, lonely—basically all the feelings no one wants to feel. And unfortunately, that emotional pain doesn’t just affect your mental health.
Aside from loneliness and depression, breakups can also lead to poorer immune function due to the elevated stress hormones in your body, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, told Time. If that level of stress persists for a long period of time—like weeks or months, which breakup-related stress often does—inflammation can occur (as well as changes in your gut microbiome) that can hinder your body’s ability to fight illness.
Your sleep schedule, your appetite, and beyond is in line with the other person’s after spending all that time together. So when you split, it’s not uncommon to feel off.
So, why does ending a relationship affect the body in such a big way? According to David Sbarra, PhD, being coupled up often means being in sync with the other person: Your sleep schedule, your appetite, and beyond is in line with the other person’s after spending all that time together. So when you split, it’s not uncommon to feel off…and need some time to recover.
To help you feel back to normal and avoid negative health effects, spend time with the people who mean the most to you, because social support is crucial for your immune system, especially when you cut ties with a partner, Dr. Kiecolt-Glazer told Time.
Eating a balanced diet and getting in some workouts—even when you really don’t want to—are also important, but spending time to reconnect with your old, pre-relationship self again is most critical.
“In our study, people who strongly agreed with statements like, ‘I have become re-acquainted with the person I was before the relationship,’ tended to also feel less lonely and to have fewer upsetting thoughts about their breakup,” said Grace Larson, a researcher and graduate student in psychology at Northwestern University.
So get down with your single self! Not only will doing so benefit your mental health, but your physical health, too.