This blog, in a series looking at different aspects of the grieving process, looks at grief and minding ourselves. There may be times, when we feel we have entered a state of freeze and stuckness. Carrying on with normal every day life feels pointless at times – so we might stop doing some of the basic self care activities that keep our minds and bodies functioning well. This is totally understandable but can, long term, make us feel even worse.
When we are exhausted and overwhelmed, simply getting out of bed in the morning can seem like an enormous challenge. But looking after our physical body, in a kind and gentle way, can give us the strength we need to keep going.
All the usual self care things we do can play a part and some of these might include:
1. Do some gentle exercise such as a walk outside
In nature if you can – people often say they stay inside as they dont want to meet anyone yet – so sometimes scheduling walks for early mornings and evenings can help, as does going with a good friend or family member for support. People often create a “Plan B” for if they need to escape well-meaning neighbours and acquaintances when they dont feel up to a long conversation – such as an urgent appointment or a child who needs to get home to be fed.
2. Call a friend or close family member
You don’t have to have something important to say – If it feels right, ask them if you can vent, and just get some of those thoughts swirling in your head out to someone else. Or, if you don’t feel like talking, ask them to talk – to tell you about what’s been going on in their day, that nothing is too trivial. That small connection whether by phone or face to face, can help us get through a tough day.
3. Listen to music
Whatever you choose to listen to, know that the music you choose is there to help – whether the help it provides is crying, laughing, remembering, or even letting out some anger and frustration.
4. Write in a journal
Writing and journaling can help. Some people journal by way of writing letters to their loved one who has passed away, others write in order to get all those thoughts swirling around in their head down on a piece of paper. Some might then to read it back to themselves a bit more objectively, being kinder to themselves. Others prefer to throw away the paper, feeling that in so doing, they are throwing away the negative thoughts.
5. Keep the basics going
Eat even small amounts, even if you don’t want to, try to maintain your normal sleep routine, get up and get dressed in the morning
6. Talk to a professional
Sometimes people feel that they need to talk to someone who is completely outside their own circle, to whom they can express anything and everything. Just one or two sessions can be extremely helpful.
7. Try some breathing exercises or simply let out a sigh now and then
This might sound like an obvious one, but it’s worth giving it some attention from time to time. We tend to hold our breath when we are stressed, or breathe in a very shallow fashion. So remember to BREATHE, and then remember to let out sighs, or deep breaths. Use the most basic of our bodily functions to move the grief, to feel it and release it, and to give your body a break –– and a big jolt of oxygen. Click here for some breathing exercises. Some people find meditation helpful – if you are new to meditation, try out apps like Calm or Headspace, which can be helpful.
I personally have found great comfort around grief and loss from the following three writers, David Kessler, Francis Weller and Stephen Levine. I can highly recommend both their books and talks.
Finding Meaning The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgG0D2O19S8
The Wild Edge of Sorrow Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbsASclTX4g
Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart by Stephen Levine
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Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
See also: Grief and Support