New York: The emotional impact of a break-up can not only leave you feeling completely broken but it can also take a significant toll on your health.

Huffington Post has come out with a list of seven ways that a divorce could affect your physical and mental health-and ways that you can take charge to begin the journey to healing.

Firstly, divorce causes chronic stress because it is usually an ongoing event. So instead of giving off adrenaline-the chemical our body secretes during times of acute stress-the body will continuously release the stress hormone cortisol. The release of large amounts of cortisol during a period of long-term stress, like during a divorce, can affect nearly every system in the body, including the blood pressure and heart rate.

Has your divorce suddenly left you tossing and turning, unable to sleep at night? You're not alone.

The body may be unsettled by no longer having a familiar partner by your side, causing physical stress that keeps you from getting the rest you need.

High cortisol levels can also contribute to difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Stress almost immediately affects your immune system-you get colds and the flu.

Autoimmune diseases, in which the body turns against itself, are also possible after divorce when immune functioning may be compromised.

When you're grappling with the swirl of negative thoughts and emotions that accompany divorce, don't be surprised if your immune system takes a sudden nosedive.

An extensive body of research in the field of psychoneuroimmunology has demonstrated just how much of an impact our emotional lives can have on our immunesystems.

And it's not just a result of stress. Divorce-induced depression can also contribute to a weakened immune system, as can social isolation and feelings of loneliness, according to the American Psychological Association.

Stressful life events can lead to clinical depression in those who may be susceptible, according to WebMD, and research out of Harvard University has found that chronic stress may also increase anxiety.

When you're struggling with the loss and trauma of a divorce, the first step to avoiding mental health issues is getting help, says Hall.

A divorce can leave you struggling with a full-blown identity crisis, as you struggle to figure out who you are without your partner.

A 2010 study found that break-ups can seriously disrupt our sense of self.

In the case of divorce, when your finances, home and family are connected with your former spouse, this clouding of self-identity could be particularly severe.

Have you ever gotten a stomachache because you were so nervous? An upset stomach may be caused by acute stress, but longer-term tension may worsen digestive

problems like heartburn, indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.

If you're experiencing stomach problems as a result of break-up stress, recommends taking measures to reduce your stress levels in order to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Try scientifically-proven stress busters like running, yoga, meditation or deep breathing.

Chronic stress, unfortunately, can take a toll on your waistline.

Long-term stress has been linked with the storage of excess abdominal fat.

Yale research found that higher levels of cortisol were correlated with extra abdominal fat in otherwise thin women.

Stress can also tip by the scale by leading to mindless munching.

When we're under stress, we tend to get cravings for snacks that are high in fat, sugar and salt-exactly the type of empty calories that lead to weight gain, and further increase our cortisol levels.


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