Skip to Content (Press Enter) Skip to Footer (Press Enter)

Navigating Grief? Here's Why Giving Yourself a Timeout is Essential

Grieving is a difficult and deeply personal experience that affects us all in different ways.

Everyone Experiences Grief Differently

Grieving is a difficult and deeply personal experience that affects us all in different ways. It is natural to feel overwhelmed by the emotional upheaval grief brings. It goes beyond our emotions and can even impact us physically.

While there is no magic remedy to make the pain vanish, there are steps you can take to ease the symptoms of grief and support your overall well-being. In this article, we will explore the physical effects of grief and the importance of self-care during the grieving process. We will also offer practical tips and techniques to give yourself a break and find comfort in the midst of loss.

Physical Effects of Grief

Grief does not follow a linear or predictable path. Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross identified five stages of grief. However, the reality is that individuals may experience these stages in a different order and even repeat stages. One commonality, though, is the vulnerability of physical health in high-stress situations.

According to clinical psychologist, Dr. Regina Josell, "The stress of living with grief can certainly exacerbate physical symptoms that we may have already been experiencing and it can trigger some new effects out of the blue."

The most frequently reported physical manifestations of grief include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Dizziness
  • Jaw clenching
  • Upset stomach
  • Digestive problems

These are only the most common symptoms. Grief can show up in many ways unique to an individual that others may never experience.

Take Care of Yourself

Focusing on physical well-being is vital during the grieving process. Taking care of your body is the foundation for coping with the emotions that accompany grief. 

Dr. Josell poignantly states, "If you think of life as a house, the foundation of your house is taking care of your body. Without a solid base, the rest of the house isn't going to hold up."

With this in mind, it is essential to practice self-care and be attentive to your physical and emotional needs. By doing so, you not only honor your grief but also create a foundation for healing and resilience.

Self-Care Tips for Grief Support:

Take a Walk

Step outside and go for a short walk. Experiencing nature, breathing in fresh air, and engaging in light exercise can help clear your mind and provide a much-needed mental break.

Listen to Soothing Music

Playing soothing music or your favorite songs can create a peaceful ambiance to relax and unwind. Close your eyes and immerse yourself in the sounds, allowing your mind to find comfort and solace.

Disconnect from Screens

Constantly using electronic devices can be mentally exhausting. Taking a break from screens, even for a short while, helps reduce eye strain and allows you to focus on other activities that can provide a sense of calm and rejuvenation.

Seek Professional Support

Talking through your grief with a mental health professional can help ease the burden of depression and anxiety that often accompanies loss. Consult your primary physician for recommendations regarding licensed mental health counselors in your area, or explore online therapy and counseling resources for accessible support.

Read a Book

Reading a book that interests you provides an opportunity to escape into a different world, offering respite from everyday stressors. Self-help books can also give you tools to learn new hobbies and find other healthy activities to try.

Engage in Mindful Eating

Practicing mindful eating means savoring each bite, focusing on the flavors and textures of your meal. This can help you restore balance if you've been skipping meals or overeating, two common side effects of grief.

Cultivate Mindfulness or Meditation

Find a quiet place, sit comfortably, and focus on the present moment. Guided meditation apps or simply observing your thoughts without judgment can reduce stress and promote relaxation, fostering a space for healing.

Enjoy a Hobby

Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, such as painting, playing an instrument, gardening, or knitting, allows you to unwind and reconnect with yourself. The act of creating or immersing yourself in a meaningful pursuit provides comfort amidst grief and allows you to shift your focus for a while.

Take Deep Breathing Breaks

Dedicate a few minutes each day to focus on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process several times to help calm the mind and relax the body, relieving tension and promoting overall well-being.

Prioritize Regular Stretching

Many of us spend extended periods sitting, which can contribute to physical discomfort. Regular breaks to stand up and stretch your body, reaching your arms overhead, stretching your legs, and gently rolling your neck and shoulders, can relieve tension and improve blood circulation.

You Are Not Alone

As you experience the complex journey of grief, it is important to remember that it is a process unique to each individual. The path to healing and finding comfort amidst loss varies for everyone. By prioritizing self-care and incorporating these practical techniques into your daily routine, you are providing yourself with the necessary foundation for healing and resilience.

Remember, you are not alone. Afterall partners are here to support you during your grieving process with our online resources. Find a nearby Afterall provider here. Embrace self-care, embrace healing, and give yourself the compassion and understanding you deserve as you navigate the various stages of grief.

For help with understanding your feelings when navigating a loss, take a look at our article Grief or Depression? A Guide to Understanding Your Feelings After Loss.