Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences anyone can go through. Grief is a normal response to loss, which impacts each person differently, you may experience a range of emotions from shock, guilt, or anger to disbelief, loneliness, and deep sadness. Grief can also trigger physical symptoms, such as insomnia, fatigue, digestive issues, and can weaken your immune system leaving you vulnerable to illness.

Grief is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting, which is why self-care is essential in helping you cope and stay healthy, which will put you be in a better position to process through this journey. Though you will most likely not feel like it, taking care of yourself during stressful times is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself.

Below are several tips I encourage you to follow to help you keep your mind and body healthy.

Self-care tips

Be Kind To Yourself

Self-compassion has tremendous healing power, treat yourself as you would treat a friend or a family member. Consider doing something nice for you, get a manicure or a relaxing massage, do something that you like and which relaxes you. Give yourself time to cry, which is a way of self-care, and important, during times of grief. Do not suppress tears, which can be healing and can release some stress. Accepting your feelings and releasing them though crying is okay. 

Connect With Others

One of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental well-being is to connect with others who care about you. The grieving process can take time; it can’t be forced or hurried, and there is no “normal” timeline for grieving.   Grief can be isolating and make you feel alone and that no one understands what you are going through. It is important when dealing with grief that you reach out and connect with others for support. Engage with people, talk about your grief with a friend, family member, or a grief coach or counselor. Go for a walk with a friend, or schedule lunch with a family member with whom you can share and get support.

Grooming and Rest

It is normal to neglect our typical daily hygiene routine; showering can do wonders for our mental health. The shower or bath can be a personal space where grievers can feel safe and secure as well as being a place to gather your thoughts. Bathe, brush your teeth and hair, get dressed. Getting cleaned up and dressed first thing in the morning makes a person feel better.

Get The Right Amount Of Sleep

If you are experiencing grief-related insomnia, try new habits, take a bath before bed, listen to soft music, read a book, have a cup of tea anything that relaxes you. If you struggle with sleep, melatonin is an option. If you are sleeping more than you did before your loss, which can be normal and may be exactly what you need but if too much sleep is impacting you negatively, set your alarm earlier and force yourself to get out of bed, take a shower and get dressed, also consider increasing your exposure to sunlight, particularly upon waking. 

Nutrition and Hydration

When you’re grieving after the loss of a loved one eating may be the last thing on your mind. Eating healthy is key to keeping your energy levels up and reduces susceptibility to illness. You need to keep your strength up, focus on protein, low carbs, and low sugar options. Refrain from “comfort foods or quick to grab foods.” You should focus on a balanced diet,  drink water, and exercise regularly. If you do not necessarily feel like eating, consider protein drinks, the key is to feed your body with healthy options to increase energy. Taking care of your physical health will help you feel better and improve your sleep pattern, as well.

Move Your Body

Physical movement helps your body release stress and tension that comes with grief. Make sure that some physical activity is part of your daily routine; it does not have to be strenuous, something as simple as 20 minutes a day can get your blood flowing. Find something that works for you and that you enjoy, whether you take a walk outside, practice yoga, strength exercises   which will contribute to better sleep, mental stability, and an overall sense of well-being. Exposure to daylight also has positive effects on mood, the benefit of taking a walk or exercising outdoors.

Breathe Mindfully

Breathing focuses the mind on the present moment, which can stimulate your mental well-being; it also relaxes your body and mind. Try taking several ones to five-minute breaks throughout the day. Close your eyes, and take three long breaths, focus on creating a nice, long inhale and exhale. Doing this is relaxing and helps you calm your mind and body. 

Consider A Check-Up

As stated before, when you are grieving, your risk for illness increases due to stress. And while grief is a natural reaction to loss, and not an illness itself, this is a good time to check in with a healthcare professional. This check-up will allow you to attend to any pre-existing health conditions that the stress of grief could negatively impact as well as address any new issues you may be facing healthwise that may require attention.

Make lists

It’s very normal to forget things when you’re your mind and body are overwhelmed with the grief you are feeling. Make lists for appointments or set your alarm as a reminder and things you need to do, but only include short tasks that don’t require long periods of concentration and only focus on things you must do. During this time in your life, it is not the time to worry about “busy” tasks that can wait for another day. Keep it simple and let go of things you may normally do and only focus on things that you need to do. Do not add more to your plate, which will increase your stress and being overwhelmed.

Hold off on Major Decision

Like reducing your task list, it is highly recommended to leave any major decisions for when you’re in a better mindset Greif can impact judgment and cause you to make rash, fear-based decisions as well as additional stress that you do not need at this time. Wait until you are less overwhelmed to make life-changing decisions.

Journal your feelings

Putting your thought and feelings into a word is a great outlet and can help you make sense out of seemingly senseless feelings. Consider writing in a journal where you can reflect on what happened, how you are feeling, and how your life has changed. Keeping a journal is a way to release feelings and begins the healing process. Keep it with you, so when you feel the need you can write, or find a time during the day that works best for you, just a few minutes a day gives a framework where you can review the changes and eventually see how far you have come along through the process.

Lastly, find joy where you canI know that this is the last thing you can think or even imagine is possible. Permit yourself to laugh at something, laughter helps to release stress, and even if it is only for a moment, it is a step towards finding your new normal. Write down one thing each day you are grateful for; it can be as simple as the birds chirping outside your window, getting that massage or manicure. The more joy and gratitude you seek, the more joy will you will start to see.

This is a time in your life to put yourself and your health first while looking to joy and healing.