Research says this is the best way to get over a bad break-up

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Jasmine Andersson

Let’s face it, break-ups are horrible. No matter how long we went out with them, how many times we’ve been through it before, or even how much better we get at hitting the high notes in Celine Dion’s power ballads, the end of a relationship creates a tapestry of unpleasant emotions.

However, we shouldn’t lament for too long, for science, wonderful science, believes it can help shorten the break-up blues.

Bridget Jones

Ah Bridget, the quintessential break-up powerhouse

According to a recent study at the University of Colorado Boulder, the ‘placebo’ effect can help heal the heartbreak.

In the academic study, 40 participants who had experienced a recent romantic rejection were asked to stare at a picture of their ex while they were mapped for brain imaging. Ouch.

But it gets better. The students were given a nasal spray, with half of them being told that the medicine was “a powerful analgesic to relieve emotional pain,” while the others were informed it was saline solution.

And, surprise surprise, they found that the people who were offered the spray placebo were found to be in far better emotional shape once they’d finished the experiment.

Elle Woods

A reminder to be more Elle

“Here, we use brain imaging to show that placebo treatment reduces the painful feelings associated with a recent romantic rejection by recruiting a prefrontal-brainstem network and by shifting the relationship between brain activity and affect,” said the study’s results, which were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

In short, simply doing the things that make you happier can speed up the healing process. Not only will it boost your confidence, but it’s a stimulating distraction method that stops the pointless analysis of Whatsapp messages past.

So, when that window of woeful self-deprecation is over, step outside (or inside, according to your tastes), and just do something you enjoy. And no, we won’t judge if that means a spot of birdwatching with your beloved Aunt Marjorie.

Images: Type A films, Focus Features and Miramax/Universal films


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Jasmine Andersson

When she isn't talking about her emotional attachment to meal deals or serenading unfortunate individuals with David Bowie power solos in karaoke booths, Jasmine writes about gender, politics and culture as a freelance journalist. She wastes her days tweeting @the__chez  

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