Handling the fresh pain of a breakup

Apr 26, 2011 at 8:11 p.m. ET

Researchers from the University of Michigan, Columbia University and the University of Colorado presented photos of ex-loves to 40 people who had recently gone through breakups. In brain scans, the recently dumped participants typically scored an eight out of 10 on the laboratory’s pain scale -- the pain equivalent of a red-hot poker held to your arm. Here's how to deal with the very real pain of a breakup.

Sad woman looking at photo

Cursive number 1Soothe the burn.

If you actually had been touched by a hot poker, you would need something to cool the burn immediately. Likewise, to relieve the pain of a recent breakup, do something that will quell the initial ache. Do something to treat yourself. Get a facial, book a massage or a mani-pedi -- anything that feels luxurious. If something else comforts you -- walking along the beach, hitting the gym -- do it.

Cursive number 2Go somewhere else.

Being at home will just remind you of him, even if you didn't live together. Everywhere you look, you'll think of meals you cooked together, hours spent making out on your couch or all the times he stayed over and cooked breakfast for you in the morning. So, avoid staying in your house immediately following a breakup. If you can't bear to leave, have someone else come over to keep you company and distract you from how awful you're feeling.

Cursive number 3Enlist friends.

If the sting is still fierce, don't be alone. Enlist the help and support of close friends to help you through it. You may not feel too social or talkative, but trust us: Being with people who love you is necessary to kill the pain. It doesn't matter what you look like, what you're wearing or if you haven't showered in three days. The point is to be around people who can give you a fresh perspective and distract you from your current misery.

How do you move on after a breakup?

  • Eat chocolate and then workout like crazy so you can bounce a quarter off of your back side and they will regret the day they ever broke it off!!!
    - Alicia Tunby

  • focus on yourself. ALOT. I just went through an awful break up and i COMPLETELY cleaned everything i own. made me feel like i was cleaning everything he touched so i wouldnt remember him when i use those things anymore. it worked.
    - Maren Ruth

  • Keep your mind busy. Spend time with friends and loved ones and take the time and focus on you.
    - Ashley Swan

  • Have a good cry, eat a pint of your fav ice cream and move on....
    - Trupti Shukla

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