Grief is a full-spectrum experience that affects us on physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral levels. At Dougy Center, we provide children and teens with a variety of outlets for expression including music, art, dramatic play, and physical activity. If you are grieving, or know someone who is, it can be helpful to think through how to best nurture the body and mind.
There are a multitude of possibilities for self-care while grieving. What works for you will be as unique as your grief. Here are just a few suggestions to consider:
Build in physical activity. You don’t have to sign up for a marathon, but making time for movement is one of the best ways to care for your nervous system. Fulfilling our daily responsibilities while grieving can be extremely time-consuming, so start small. Take a few five-minute walks throughout the day, put the dishes aside and play with the kids or the dog, or if you have the time, try out a yoga class or a weekend hike.
Spend a few moments each day focusing on your breath. Studies show that intentional deep breathing helps calm your body’s fight/flight/freeze response. Pick something you do every day, such as brushing your teeth or waiting at red lights, and use that as a time to take five to ten deliberate breaths. You can also play with drawing out the exhale a moment or two longer than the inhale. Pay attention to what you notice while you’re breathing. What sounds, sensations, thoughts, and emotions come to the surface?
Create a gratitude practice. This might seem trite given how saturated popular culture is with catchy phrases of thanks, but research supports that conscious gratitude really does shift our thinking and also our neurobiology. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find anything we’re grateful for, but it can be worth coming up with two or three things once a day. Perhaps this is something you do privately, writing them in a journal or thinking about them on your commute, or maybe it’s something you share with friends and family.
What have you found that is helpful for you? We’d like to hear from you. Please share your tips on our Facebook page.