Margaret Clayton: The heart of the matter is that we must learn to listen to our emotions


WHAT becomes of the broken-hearted?

The words of the song hold a truth which has just been discovered by scientists from Aberdeen University.

Their research shows heartbreak can cause as much long-term damage to our heart as a cardiac arrest.

More than 3000 people a year – and most of those are women – suffer “broken heart syndrome”.

The rush of hormones caused by a stressful event such as the death of a loved one, a divorce or romantic rejection, can permanently damage the pumping motion of the heart muscle.

Until now it was thought the heart could fully recover from an emotional crisis, but the research suggests this isn’t always true.

Which means I think that we all need to pay as much attention to what we feel as to what we do.

It’s important to eat healthily, take exercise and to look after our bodies, but it’s also vital to understand emotions play an important role in our wellbeing.

If we’re unhappy at work or are in a difficult relationship, this can have long-term effects on our physical condition.

Stress isn’t just a buzzword – it can cause real health problems.

That’s why it’s so important to have someone – a partner, friend, colleague or family member with whom you can be open and honest about how you feel.

Bottling up your emotions and always putting a brave face on things is often seen as the way to go, but at what cost?

Sometimes it may be healthier to go for a long walk with someone you trust and just talk through what’s going on in your life.

One of the most distressing things about modern life has been the discovery in recent years of how many children were abused in care homes run by the church or the state.

Those young boys and girls had no one who could help them cope with the horrific realities of their life.

As they grew up, the feelings of shame never left them and caused huge emotional damage.

It took incredible courage for these men and women to speak out. Hopefully they will now find healing and peace.

Human emotion is a powerful force and we must respect it.

Sir James Mundy, Britain’s most senior family court judge, said recently broken heart syndrome is why it’s important not to split up elderly couples in a care home.

He said “We do know that people can die of a broken heart. How long do people last if they are separated or uprooted? A very short time.”

Feelings matter. We ignore them at our cost. Learning to share our ups and downs with someone we trust can be the first step towards a happier and healthier life. Maybe now is the time for you to take it.

Whether it’s to say “Sorry” or “I miss you” or a simple “Can we talk?” that conversation could be the start of something important.