Grief can be raw, painful, and messy. It is important during times of grief to take care of yourself. Self-care is a crucial part of the healing process and can help ease the suffering of the mind, body, and spirit. As every individual’s grief is unique, so is their path to healing from a loss. What works for someone else, may not work for you and that’s okay. Find what self-care tips work for you.
Mentally & Emotionally
1. Be kind to yourself
Grief can be cruel. Give yourself the love and respect you deserve. Talk kindly to yourself and allow yourself to grieve in the time and ways that you need. Give yourself words of encouragement. Don’t let your own mind hurt you further. Reflect on meaningful ways to show yourself kindness.
2. Allow yourself to really feel
Feel what you need to feel. There is no right or wrong feeling during grief. You may feel numb, angry, empty, depressed, confused, etc. You may also feel relief, comfort, joy, etc. Whatever you’re feeling is okay.
3. Schedule something that brings you joy, everyday
Whether it’s baking, music, art, praying, or reading; find something that brings you happiness and make it a priority every single day.
4. Talk it out
It is important to talk to others, but it doesn’t have to be to everyone. It doesn’t always have to be about your grief, but if you hide your grief your body may start to express it for you.
5. Express your emotions
Find a meaningful, healthy outlet for you to let out your emotions. This could be through art, journaling, music, exercise, etc. Find something that you feel gives you the opportunity to release your emotions and stick with it.
6. Don’t set a timeline for yourself
Grief is not linear. There is no timeframe for how long you should grieve. Remind yourself that grief may come and go and you have the right to take the time you need.
7. Communicate what you do and do not need
It’s okay to want to be alone. It’s okay to not want visitors to linger. It’s okay to say no. It is also okay to ask for help and be specific about what you need from your support system. Let those around you trying to support you know what you’re comfortable with.
8. Physical touch
Physical contact can be transformative for healing. A simple hug, handholding, or arm around someone can be soothing. If this isn’t you, it is also ok to say no to these gestures.
9. Laugh when you can
Laughter is like medicine for the body and soul. It is shown to release stress-reducing chemicals in the brain. Don’t feel guilty for having times of happiness and laughter. This doesn’t mean you love or miss the person any less.
10. Make time to grieve
Pushing your grief deep down and not addressing it won’t allow you to heal. Don’t busy yourself too much trying to bury your grief.
11. Get your sleep
Your body needs an ample amount of rest to heal. Give yourself the sleep you need to allow your body and mind to recover.
12. Awaken your senses
Expose yourself to a variety of sensory activities that bring you comfort. For example, taste or smell different foods, feel soft fabrics, smell flowers, sit by the water, or watch the sunset. Tune into your senses to find what brings you the most comfort.
13. Nourish your body with healthy foods
Your mind is experiencing trauma. Replenish your body and mind with nutritious foods and plenty of water so that you can heal properly.
14. Make a routine
After a loss, your life is going to change. It may be helpful for you to try a new routine to help yourself deal with all the changes. Eventually, you will find your new normal.
Intentional focus on your breathing can be beneficial during a time when you feel you are losing control. Breathing mindfully and other forms of meditation can give you a sense of control of your body and mind.
16. Move your body
Exercise is calming for both mind and body. Go for a walk, do yoga, bike, run, or even clean the house. Whatever form of movement you enjoy, do that.
17. Hygiene still matters
Don’t forget to care for your body. Take a shower or a hot bath. Brush your teeth. Doing these simple things for yourself can help you feel refreshed and can also be a win for the day. Even if you don’t do anything else that day, you can feel like you accomplished something.
18. See your doctor
When you’re grieving after a loss, your immune system is also suffering. Make sure you are not ignoring your health. Taking a pause to take care of your health doesn’t mean you don’t miss them.
19. Fresh air
Not only can being outside bring you joy, breathing fresh air provides the body with more oxygen. More oxygen means more energy and greater clarity of mind.
20. Let light in
Don’t let yourself get too comfortable inside in a dark room. Open the curtains. Go outside and embrace the sunlight.
This information was compiled from a variety of resources including:
Lourdes Hospital- Self Care Tips While Grieving
Center for Loss- Nurturing Yourself When You’re Grieving
Understanding Your Grief by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph. D.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine
See also: Altru’s Grief Support Library