It’s important to find some relief from your grief – even if it’s just for a few moments each day. When we’re in the midst of grief, we tend to be hard on ourselves – sometimes even unkind, so self-care drops to the bottom of the list of priorities.
Looking After Yourself.
I know what you’re thinking…”self-care, not that old chestnut”. But taking good care of yourself is essential for coming through grief. It’s not selfish and it doesn’t mean you’re feeling sorry for yourself, having a pity-party, or being self-indulgent. It simply means you are creating conditions that allow you to heal from your loss.
Self-care supports your grief journey, a journey which leaves you profoundly affected on an emotional, physical and spiritual level. So it makes sense that we need to nourish ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Be brave and listen to your intuition. Accept that we are responsible for our own wellbeing and it is indeed healthy to nurture ourselves in whatever way is necessary.
Here’s 40 ideas – I’m hoping at least one of them will sound appealing:
1. Take a shower or bath. Water is both calming and healing – plus you can’t beat the scent of your favourite products.
2. Enjoy your favourite beverage. Do you enjoy a good old fashioned cup of tea? Or maybe you’d like to try something new, such as herbal tea. Whatever you enjoy, spend some time making and enjoying the drink mindfully. You could also take a trip to a relaxing coffee shop for a fancy coffee.
3. Eat something indulgent. Whether you’re a fan of ice cream, cake, chocolate, or cookies, go ahead and treat yourself.
4. Grab a book, head to the nearest coffee shop. People watch, read, and eat cake. It’s the perfect combo.
5. Have a day at the beach or by the river. Like I said, water has a calming effect.
6. Plan a picnic or even just make a packed lunch so you can eat outdoors someplace peaceful. It doesn’t need to be a full on spread – just a sarnie and a bench will do.
7. Walk out in nature. Whether you feel at ease in the forest, at the local country park or public garden, you’ll find that nature helps you to feel more grounded. Go barefoot if you’re feeling brave (and it’s safe).
8. Grow a plant or herb. Gardening is great and there’s something satisfying about planting a seed and nurturing it into a plant – especially if it’s edible.
9. Go to the cinema or have a movie night. Remember the popcorn. Personally I prefer a movie night so I can get into my pyjamas.
10. Listen to the radio. Background noise can be comforting and when one of your favourite songs is played, crank it up.
11. Go for a swim. Back to the water theme again. You don’t have to go the public swimming baths. You could give ‘wild swimming’ a go (remember to do this with an expert, not alone). Or treat yourself to a day pass at a spa.
12. Have a full spa day or overnight trip. This can be done alone or with a friend – or even a group of friends. I started doing this during my grieving stage and it’s long since continued as an annual affair.
13. Meditate. This isn’t about ‘clearing your mind’ or sitting for an hour on a meditation cushion. You can meditate just as comfortably sitting on a chair or a park bench. If this is a new experiment, simply set your timer for 2 minutes and increase the time when you feel ready to do so. Equally, you can find all sorts of guided meditations online (apps, You Tube, etc).
14. Do some colouring. This is therapeutic and relaxing.There are so many options and themes available via colouring books and apps.
15. Spend time with friends and family. Preferably, the ones that are supportive and bring joy to your life.
16. Bake a cake or cook something. Make a whole thing of it, from planning to going out for the ingredients, to prepping and tasting the end result.
17. Get creative. Embrace your inner child with craft activities. There’s nothing quite like cutting, sticking and getting messy with paint, etc. Involve the children or grandchildren if you want.
18. Journal. You don’t need a fancy journal – although you could treat yourself to one. A notebook will do. You can find journal with or without prompts and activities. The choice is yours. Either way, create a space on paper for you to journal about your thoughts, and feelings.
19. Make a gratitude jar. You can even have fun decorating it (see #17). Find one thing each day you feel grateful for or record special memories and add it to the jar. I like to read mine each New Year’s Eve.
20. Draw a grief map – in your journal. Make a large circle at the centre of your page and label it ‘grief’. This circle represents your thoughts and feeling since your loss. Next, draw lines radiating out of the circle and label each line with a thought or feeling that has contributed to your grief. At the end of each line, draw a further bubble to explore this thought or feeling. A few keywords will do. Your grief map doesn’t need to look visually stunning or conform to any rules. The most important thing is the process of creating it. When you’re finished, you may choose to show it to someone who cares about you.
21. Make a list of short-term goals. A great journal activity or else, a sheet of paper will do. I like to do this on Pinterest and create a vision board. Think about all the things you’d like to do in the next 3-6 months, or if this feels too much, do it on a monthly basis.
22. Volunteer. Showing others kindness and compassion is good for the soul. You don’t have to make a regular commitment (although this is also a great excuse to get out of the house). I recently met a client who volunteered for one weekend only at a local food and drink festival.
23. Take a nap. Grabbing a few extra winks will do wonders for your wellbeing. Research suggests that a short 20 minute nap, reduces the risk of burnout and even disease.
24. Smile – never underestimate how much the cat video can boost your mood.
25. Play. Get on the floor and get stuck in with your kids or pet. Ben (our pooch), makes us do this daily.
26. Cry. This can feel scary to some people because they fear opening the floodgates and that it may never end. It will. A good healthy cry is the way forward.
27. Declutter. Or Spring clean – whichever floats your boat. If you’re thinking of rising to the challenge of clearing out a loved one’s possessions this can be challenging and helpful at the same time. I’ve got some additional help for you on that one.
28. Get a hug. Maybe not from a complete stranger but somebody you care about, a tree or a pet.
29. Get a pet or borrow a pet for the day. It’s amazing the sense of purpose you get from a four legged friend. For example, a dog will get you out of the house for a walk and give you lots of love when you need it. Read more about the benefits.
30. Learn a new skill or find a new hobby. You’ll maybe meet some new people along the way. You’ll certainly feel a sense of achievement.
31. Keep your annual medical appointments. I know, visiting the dentist and the doctor sucks. But keeping on top of those annual or routine appointments is a part of looking after yourself. You wouldn’t drive your car without a service, would you?
32. Make a scrapbook or put together a photo album. This is a lovely little project. Make it your own special item for holding memories – past or future.
33. Exercise a little. You could join a gym, take a class or start running. Equally, just 20 minutes walking a day will be great for releasing those endorphins.
34. See a therapist or coach. Well I would say that. Here’s the info you need on that one.
35. Visit a place of worship. This is an interesting one. You don’t have to be religious to do this. Have you ever felt the calm and peaceful presence in a church for example?
36. Have a dance party. It doesn’t matter if you’re alone in the kitchen – in fact, it’s more fun that way.
37. Sing – out loud. Whether you can sing or not, join in with your favourite song on the radio or indulge in a little car karaoke.
38. Go for a drive and have a sing-a-long on the way to nowhere.
39. Phone an old friend. Catch up on old times and maybe even plan a little get together.
40. Join a social or support group. This is great for meeting new people and generally just getting out of the house. There are some awesome groups both online and offline. You can join my Facebook Group, Life Beyond Loss.