Putting ourselves first can seem like an impossible task. Especially when we’re used to tending to the needs of others. Whether it’s a child, an ailing parent or a friend in need, it’s often easiest to subvert our own needs in order to make sure those in our charge are cared for.
However, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will soon become incapable of meeting the needs of others. We’ve all heard it: put the oxygen mask on yourself before you turn to others on the plane. And it makes sense. How are we meant to help others if we can’t even breathe?
Taking care of yourself is imperative during times of grief – often allowing for a bit more ease, room to process things and the support necessary to alleviate suffering. Known as “healthy grief” or “healthy grieving” – this act of self-care can make a tremendous difference in the way one navigates difficult times.
"For so much of my life I was run by this nagging voice in the back of my head that kept insisting, 'You're not doing enough! You're not doing enough!'
But now I'm starting to listen to my body a lot more. It needs tender loving care and I'm the only one who can provide that. Even though I always feared that if I took better care of myself it would mean I'd become selfish or self-indulgent, I've discovered that's not the case." - Leonard Felder
Self-care doesn’t have to be challenging, time-consuming or complex. Here are just a few tips to help you during times of grieving:
Drink water. Hydrating nourishes the body and gives you more energy, better focus, and enhanced concentration.
Have a cup of tea. Many herbal teas can have calming effects – often relieving your nervous system.
Exercise. If you get energized by going to the gym – try to get in for a class, go for a run or a weight-lifting session. If the gym feels too overwhelming or claustrophobic – find an exercise video to do in your home – or just dance around the house. Anything to get your body moving.
Go for a walk in nature. Getting your heart rate up amidst the awe-inspiring majesty of tall trees, sweeping views or the beauty of a river, lake or ocean does wonder for lifting spirits.
Garden. Sometimes, just focusing on putting budding plants into the ground or even ripping out errant weeds can relax your mind.
Take a yoga class. Bending and stretching your body – and allowing it to rest whenever need be – inevitably helps alleviate stress. And the focus on breathing and being present that comes along with yoga can go a long way to calming your mind.
Try an art project. Whether it’s painting, working with clay or simply drawing with colored pencils, you can gain a deep sense of calm and well-being from artistic pursuits while also focusing your attention and expressing emotions.
Cook something new. Indulge your senses by trying different ingredients or a new recipe. Wander down the grocery aisles and pick out beautiful produce or exotic spices you’ve never tried. Or flip through wonderous pages of cookbooks and find a recipe that excites you.
Journal or write a poem. Expressing yourself through words is extremely powerful. Write down anything and everything you need to say in a private journal – it’s just for you! Or focus on finding a poetic way of expressing your feelings and share it with your loved ones if that would bring about more healing.
Use aromatherapy. Take a deep breath of an essential-oil infuser to calm your senses and boost your immune system.
Practice mindfulness. Try meditation to keep your mind present. It’s so easy to grieve the past or worry about the future – but meditating can help you focus on the now. The best thing: you don’t have to do it for hours, you don’t have to do it forever, you don’t have to do it alone. Just a few minutes of mindfulness can be healing. And there are so many ways to find help: look for a class, find an online course, search for a podcast that suits your exact needs.
Take a bath. Use mineral bath salts that soothe the nerves, calm the mind and relax your tense muscles.
Get a good night’s sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene – try to avoid watching TV or viewing your screens right before you go to bed. If you’re tired, don’t feel bad about heading to bed earlier than usual. Try some lavender essential oil to help you feel relaxed.
It’s that easy. Yes, grieving is painfully difficult, but sometimes a cup of tea or a warm bath can work wonders. Choose one of these tips, find a few minutes in your day, and focus on YOU.