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5 Tips For Self-Care During Times of Loss

Steven Losardo, LMFT

Sometimes the hardest part of losing someone you care for, isn’t the loss itself, but it’s what happens to you after the loss has occurred. The aftermath is a time to care for yourself and engage in self-care tactics to help get you through this difficult time. There are dozens of self-care methods ranging from something as simple as taking a bath to as extreme as taking that overseas vacation. It really depends on you and what you need, but there are a few factors to take into consideration and methods to pay close attention to that can help you better manage this difficult time.

  1. Accept the chaos of emotions you are feeling

Grieving looks different for every person experiencing it, but for the majority of people, it comes with an array of emotions that don’t often make the most sense. First of all, know that this is normal and that you will most likely not always understand why you feel the way you do, when you do. However, this does not mean your emotions are incorrect, immoral, out of place, etc. During the grieving process you will likely experience periods of sadness, anger, joy, pain, confusion, frustration, and even guilt or blame (Okona, 2021; Tsaim 2019).

Accept the chaos of emotions going on in your body, don’t judge them, this is vital to the self-care process. You can’t care for yourself if you’re judging yourself for every emotion you feel during this time.

  1. Express those emotions

When you can, do your best to find the most efficient way for you to express the emotions that you’re feeling. There are numerous ways to express your emotions that don’t involve speaking to a therapist, or anybody at all. You don’t have to say a word, but you do have to get those emotions out before they weigh on you. There are several ways to express your emotions such as (Okona, 2021; Tsaim 2019):

  • Creative endeavors (play music, paint, write a poem, sing, draw, etc.)
  • Listen to music that fits your feelings
  • Change the tone of your voice to let people know how you may be feeling without having to actually say phrases like, “I’m angry” or “I feel sad”.
  1. Be patient with yourself (don’t set a timeline)

The most ineffective thing you can do during this time is giving yourself x-amount of time to grieve your loss. Skovholt, T. M. et.al, 2014 states that setting a timeline can be detrimental to your mental health as it forces you to work on a schedule and our emotions, healing, processing, they don’t work on a schedule. If you treat your grieving like a work assignment with a deadline, all you’ll end up doing is suppressing and covering up how you feel. In order to best take care of yourself after grieving, you need to be patient with yourself and let your emotions run their course. 

  1. Awaken your senses

One of the best things you can do for self-care during times of grief is by actively engaging in your five senses every single day. Sometimes, the best support actually comes from your environment rather than from the people around you. Try engaging in activities that comfort you (Okona, 2021; Tsaim 2019)

  • Holding a warm blanket
  • Eating your favorite food
  • Smelling your favorite candle
  • Walking out in nature
  • Listen to soothing sounds
  1. Take care of your physical health

Tsaim et al 2009 talks about the importance of taking care of your physical health as a critical form of self-care during times of loss. When engaging in self-care during the grieving period, you’ll need to take care of your physical health. Reason being grief has shown to reduce the immune systems functioning. It’s best to focus on your physical health the best you can during this time. Make sure you are fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly (fruits, veggies, lots of water). Focusing on your physical health is just as important as your mental health during the self-care process. 

Self-care is vital to the healing process during times of grief after loss. You want to be sure you are taking care of you during this time, more than anyone else. By engaging in activities that fill you with comfort, taking care of your physical health, and learning to express your emotions in a healthy way, you’ll get through this difficult time successfully (Okona, 2021; Tsaim 2019). Keep in mind the importance of also allowing yourself to feel however you feel even when it seems inappropriate. There is no right way to grieve, there is only your way.

References

Skovholt, T. M., & Trotter-Mathison, M. (2014). The resilient practitioner: Burnout prevention

and self-care strategies for counselors, therapists, teachers, and health professionals.

Routledge.

Okona, S. (2021). Self-Care for Grief: 100 practices for healing during times of loss. Adams

Media. Avon, MA

Tsai, M., Plummer, M. D., Kanter, J. W., Newring, R. W., & Kohlenberg, R. J. (2009). Therapist

Grief and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy: Strategic Self-Disclosure of Personal Loss.

Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 40(1), 1-10. doi:10.1007/s10879-009-9116-6

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