Losing a loved one is one of the most common experiences in life, but that does not make it any less devastating. Suddenly, someone you care about is gone, and it’s easy to let grief and anxiety overwhelm you in these times of mourning.
It’s important to know that these feelings are natural. It’s okay to grieve and it’s okay to grieve in your own way. However, staying healthy and taking care of yourself is important even in these dark times. No matter what is happening around you, you owe it to yourself to practice self-care. Even though it can be hard, it is often worth the effort to stay physically and mentally fit. Doing so may even provide some measure of comfort. Here are five ways to exercise some much needed self-care:
1. Eat Well
After losing a loved one, many of us reach for our favorite comfort foods—those foods that remind us of happier times and of security. However, these foods also tend to be high in sugar and carbohydrates, and excesses of either can make you feel worse in the long run. As difficult as it might be, it’s important to try to eat healthy by making vegetables an essential part of your meals and avoiding carbohydrates and sugar. This isn’t to say you should deny yourself your preferred comfort food. Instead, as with many things, moderation is important.
In addition to unhealthy foods, it’s helpful to avoid unhealthy eating practices. The extremes of skipping meals or overeating often make regulating or stabilizing emotions more challenging in the long run. Try to keep to three regular meals a day, and try to watch your portion size so you are maintaining a proper caloric intake.
2. Sleep and Exercise are Crucial
Sleeping helps with the recovery process and is important to regulating your emotions. It’s common among those in mourning to suffer from bouts of insomnia. Often this is caused by the grief caused by a loved one’s passing, but it could also stem from the stress of keeping up with social and familial obligations in these times.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and getting an uninterrupted night of sleep can do wonders for your mental health. If you find you have trouble sleeping, consider consulting with a doctor about medication that can help regulate your sleep cycles.
It’s equally important to get out of bed at a reasonable time and exercise. Exercise can help improve your mood, and therefore you should try keeping an exercise schedule. It does not necessarily have to be high-impact exercise if you do not want it to be; even taking a walk every other day can result in physical and mental health boosts.
3. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
It can be tempting to reach for alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief. However, drugs and alcohol only remove the pain for a brief period of time. They cannot provide permanent relief from mourning. In fact, using drugs and alcohol might make your sadness, anger, and guilt worse than if you were to experience them sober. It is much healthier to face your feelings rather than suppressing them with depressants or stimulants.
Further, overusing of drugs and alcohol to deal with loss of a loved one can lead to a dependence on them, either mental or physical. There is a high chance this could lead to further physical, emotional, or financial suffering in the future.
4. Allow Yourself to Feel
One of most easily forgotten parts of grieving and self-care is remembering that everyone grieves in their own way. Some mourners may go through all five stages of grief, and some may go through none of the stages. Some people may cry openly, and some may not shed tears.
You shouldn’t judge yourself for how you are expressing your grief, and you shouldn’t try to force yourself to grieve in a way that would meet with others’ expectations. If you do not wish to be “strong” for others, you do not have to be.
You are also allowed to grieve at your own pace. There is no one right time to feel completely recovered from the death of a loved one, and you should not feel compelled to rush the process. It is also normal to feel fine for a while and then experience a resurgence of emotion at a later time, especially during significant dates like anniversaries, birthdays, or holidays. Again, you should allow yourself to feel and not suppress yourself, especially in these times.
5.Watch for Signs of Serious Issues
Even though it is perfectly natural to grieve for a loved one at your own pace, be aware that the feelings of mourning should generally diminish over time. If the feelings of grief or depression have not subsided after a significant period of time, it may be a sign of a more serious mental health issue such as depression or complicated grief.
Support groups can help you process your grief and heal by offering shared experiences and safe spaces. Many websites offer listings of where local support groups can be found. Often religious spaces and community centers will have listings of support groups’ meeting times and locations. If you are unable to reach a support group directly, many groups have online aspects or are entirely online, making it easy to reach help.
Finally, it is advisable to seek out a therapist if you feel depressed, anxious, or stressed and would like to speak with someone about it.
At Mazow | McCullough, P.C., we understand how painful losing a loved one can be. We know that nothing in the world can really bring someone you care about back, but we can help ease the financial responsibilities that come from a death and perhaps help you find justice for their passing. If you believe the loss of your loved one was a wrongful death, please give us a call at (978)-744-8000 for a free consultation.