Self-Care While Grieving

It is important to care for yourself while you are grieving. Take as much time as you need, and seek and accept support from a trusted friend, family member or mental health professional when you need it.

Taking Care of Yourself & Others

Whether you are grieving or taking care of others who are grieving, here are some tips for self-care:

  • Lie in the sun streaming in through your windows. Bathe in the sun.
  • Designate an afternoon or evening and take the phone off the hook, and meditate.
  • When you are worried or obsessing, set up a specific time of the day to “worry” for 20 minutes. Set a timer. When the time is up, do something rewarding for yourself.
  • Do something you’re good at. It is important to immerse yourself in your skills and abilities, even if the outcome isn’t up to par (trouble concentrating and decreased zest are common in grief).
  • Comfort yourself by taking a warm bath using your favorite scents, and burn aromatherapy candles.
  • Wrap up in a warm blanket. Put on relaxing music or relaxation tapes and sip your favorite tea or hot chocolate.
  • Play music that matches your mood. Feel understood by the songs and singers that share your experiences.
  • Especially when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, forget about making to-do lists. Instead, at the close of each day, make a list of what’s been done.
  • Find something to care for, such as a garden or a pet.
  • Eat nourishing meals each day, even if the food doesn’t hit your taste buds like you’re used to.
  • Make a fire in the fireplace and do some stretching and focus on yourself.
  • Breathe – really breathe! Take deep breaths in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth.
  • Say “No” to something…and “yes” to yourself.
  • Try gentle exercise like yoga, tai chi, or walking.
  • Spend some time in nature.
  • Make a memory box, collage, or journal to store your thoughts and memories
  • Be realistic about your limitations.
  • Acknowledge when you are attempting to play the part of “superman/superwoman.”
  • Learn to visualize.
  • Share your feelings. Be courageous enough to accept the help and support of others.
  • Avoid isolating.
  • Draw on spiritual support from others and from your beliefs about a higher power.

Exercise and Nutrition

  • Exercise can make you focus on your health and your body rather than what has happened.
  • Going for a walk can brighten mood and alleviate tension.
  • Finding someone to exercise with can make you more motivated to get moving. Even just walking around the neighborhood will turn your focus elsewhere.
  • Try to eat about three meals a day, even if it is difficult. You may feel like eating is too difficult, and you may not have an appetite. It is important to still eat, or you won’t have energy to make it through the day.
  • Trying to include all the food groups is important, without proper nutrition you won’t feel alert and energetic.
  • Karate, yoga, cardio, and gardening or any physical activity can help relieve emotional pain and increase energy level simultaneously.

Strategies to Improve Sleep

Sleep problems are common for those who are grieving. Here are some helpful strategies:

  • Exercise more during the day: gentle walking, swimming, gardening
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool
  • No Caffeine and limit sugar after 4 pm
  • Limit Napping
  • No visual media after 8 pm (no texting, TV/computer, within 1 hour of bedtime)
  • Write next days to do list one hour before bed - don't worry in bed
  • Keep a diary, two hours before bed write down your worries. Then write three things you are thankful for.
  • Bedtime and wake time should not change by more than 1 hour between weekdays and weekends
  • No exercise within 2 hours of bedtime
  • Avoid large meals or beverages right before bedtime
  • Eat a high-protein/high-fat snack 1 hour before bed (2 peanut butter crackers or a boiled egg)
  • If serious symptoms of insomnia continue after using these methods: Consider discussing sleep concerns with your primary physician.

Practice Deep Breathing for Stress Management

Deep breathing helps you deal with stress, tension, anxiety, and anger. It can be done almost anywhere. It is also called diaphragmatic breathing. It helps in many ways. Steps for this exercise:

  1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted.
  2. You may want to sit in a comfortable chair or lie on the floor with a pillow under the small of your back.
  3. Breathe in through your nose, slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out as you breathe in.
  4. Say the word "relax" silently as you breathe out. Picture your stress and tension begin to leave as you breathe out.
  5. Breathe out slowly through your mouth, letting your stomach come in.

Repeat these deep breaths 10 times. You will notice how much more relaxed you feel after a very few minutes of controlled breathing.

Do this 5 times a day.

Looking for Support?

Call Grief Support Services at 218-786-4402 for more information regarding counseling and grief support groups for children, teens, and adults.