Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Natalie. Natalie Wonders, “what is the HanaHaki disease?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Natalie!

Think of a time when you felt a very strong emotion. Was it excitement? Gratitude? We hope it was an emotion that made you feel good, like love or joy. Now, think about how you felt physically when you experienced that emotion. Did you feel warm? Maybe you felt butterflies in your stomach. Perhaps you were so happy that your fingertips tingled. 

Many people find that emotions affect them physically. And it’s not always a good feeling! Some people shake when they become very angry. Others have a knot in their stomachs when they’re nervous. A few people even throw up flower petals when they experience heartache

Wait. That last one sounds a little odd, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s not real! That’s a symptom of a fictional illness called HanaHaki Disease. Its name comes from two Japanese words. “Hana” means “flower” and “hakimasu” means “to throw up.” Put them together and they describe HanaHaki Disease pretty well.

The fictional HanaHaki Disease is common in stories from eastern Asia. They’re especially well-known by readers of Japanese graphic novels, called Manga. A character catches HanaHaki Disease when they experience unrequited love. That means they have a crush on a person who doesn’t like them back.

There are two cures for HanaHaki Disease. First, the illness goes away if the other person changes their mind. If they have romantic feelings for the afflicted person, then that person gets better. The second cure is surgery. Fictional doctors can remove the flowers. This also takes away the romantic feelings the character felt.

Real people can’t catch HanaHaki Disease. But they can experience heartache. And heartache often causes physical symptoms, like nausea and low energy. It may not be HanaHaki Disease, but it certainly doesn’t feel good. What can real people do to feel better?

The best thing people can do is learn to regulate their emotions. Everyone will go through heartache, anger, or sadness in their lives. It helps to be able to manage those difficult emotions. This can make a huge difference and help you feel better sooner.

How does emotional regulation work? It looks different for different people. The trick is to try out different methods and do plenty of self-reflection. That’s how you can figure out what works for you. For many people, pausing and taking a few deep breaths helps them manage their emotions. Others find it helps to listen to music, read a book, or exercise. 

Stepping away from a difficult situation helps many people manage their emotions.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by emotion, try taking a break. Cook and eat a meal. Go for a long walk. Do something you enjoy to get your mind off of it. When you come back, you’ll probably feel more able to handle the issue—and your reaction to it.

You may not really be at risk of catching HanaHaki Disease, but heartache itself can certainly feel like an illness. Have you ever found yourself nursing a broken heart? We hope not! If it ever does happen, try out a few of the strategies we talked about. You may be surprised how much better you feel!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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