Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Self-care is extremely important during grief. Self-care can increase your resources while grief drains them. What does self-care mean? It is something you do that supports you mentally, physically or emotionally. It is anything that you do that is healthy and feels nurturing to you. Self-care might include exercise, eating well, good sleep habits, not exposing your mind to upsetting things, social connections, helping others, or relaxation such as baths or walks or meditation. Self-care can also be hobbies or activities that feel relaxing and replenishing. Self-care is anything that adds physical or emotional health and well-being to your life.
Self-care can look very different for different people. What feels nurturing can also be very different when you are grieving than when you are not grieving. It is important to check in with yourself about whether your self-care is working right now and not to assume that doing the same things you did before will be helpful. For example, maybe you liked to cook before and right now you’re finding it stressful to try to follow directions and focus on a recipe. Maybe you found baths boring before but now they feel relaxing. Feel free to experiment and notice what happens.
Self-care is important in grief because it can give you energy to grieve and that can make your grief more bearable and less overwhelming. It is important because you are physically drained and self-care can replenish you physically. It is important because it breaks the cycle of stress hormones and helps you produce relaxation hormones. It is better for your health. It can help reset your brain so you can focus, plan, remember and think more clearly. It is also an act of self-compassion which can prime the pump for you responding to your emotions compassionately. Please give yourself permission for as much self-care as you need during this time. It is not selfish; it is taking good care of yourself.
Think of something you have done for yourself since the loss that was helpful. It can be small, like making your favorite coffee, or larger, like meeting a friend for lunch. Thinking back, reflect on how you felt afterward. Check in with your body. What would it like more of in the future? Sleep, good food, exercise, yoga, stretching? Check in with your thinking mind. What would help support it? More time to rest without thinking? More sleep? Mindless activities like watching a movie? Focused activities like painting or doing a puzzle? Check in with your emotions. What helps you support them? Would they like to express more in writing or by talking? Would they like to be soothed by listening to a relaxing visualization? Would they simply like time and attention so they can be fully felt? Set an intention to put more self-care into your life right now so you can be as healthy as possible, and support yourself as much as possible, while you grieve.
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