Healthy ways to deal with grief
At one point or another we all face loss and the grief that comes with it. Whether it’s from a break-up, a friendship dissolving or the death of someone near and dear. Loss and grief are very real parts of what we go through as humans. As much as we would like to, we can’t avoid this, but what we can control is how we deal with it and allow the grieving process to help us heal and inevitably make us stronger. There are many unhealthy ways of dealing with grief, things like over- or under- eating, staying in denial over what has happened, lashing out emotionally at those close to you, bottling your feelings up, taking part in dangerous or risky activities, and even becoming depressed or anxious. None of this will actually help you in the grieving process, in fact, it may end up taking longer to heal and possibly damage you further in the process. Instead, here are some healthy ways to cope with your grief:
Embrace your emotions, don’t bottle them up
Keeping your feelings bottled up keeps you from working through them and finding the closure you need. Don’t feel embarrassed by them. Fully express yourself and know that it’s ok to feel the way you do, and to cry. Yes, not everyone cries when they’re experiencing grief, but if you need to cry, do it.
Talk to someone you trust, or a counsellor
Just like letting your feelings out, talking about them creates a place for you to heal and work through all the stuff going on in your head. Find someone you can talk to, whether it’s a close friend, family member, or even a counsellor such as LifeLine and SADAC.
Join a support group
Sometimes you need to feel part of a group to find the closure you need, there are all sorts of support groups out there to help people who are going through the same experiences to connect and learn from each other. Not only are you getting a safe confidential space to talk about how you’re feeling with people who really understand it, you’ll also benefit from the insights they have to offer. And, bonus, you might be able to help someone else in the process.
Take part in rituals
When losing a loved one, it’s important to maintain the rituals in the grieving process, in the case of the death of a loved one, this helps us feel that we gave them a good send off and creates a space for the family to grieve together and strengthen their bonds.
Preserve the memories
Focus on the good times, keep them strong in your heart, but be aware that you’re not fixating on the bad times.
Don’t hide behind unhealthy behavior (alcohol and drugs)
I know when you’re hurting inside, it’s tempting to dull the pain with alcohol and drugs, but the truth is, they’ll still be there when it wears off. Chemicals don’t solve your problems or heal your pain; and in fact it just makes it a whole lot worse.
Meditation is a great way to help focus on your internal processes, to understand what’s going on in your head and heart so you can find peace. Also, try practising deep breathing and stillness.
Creativity heals.. Spend time exploring your creativity through art, dance, music, writing in a journal, or anything really – it’ll do wonders for your mental state.
Travel and new experiences
New experiences broaden the mind, literally - they create new neural pathways. When you grieve, you can easily find yourself in a rut. Get up and out and expose yourself to the world outside. Even if it’s about exploring a new local town, or trying out a new experience, a new sport or activity; something that you’ve never tried before.
Get moving. Exercise such as walking, running and jogging pumps all sorts of feel-good hormones into your body, guaranteed to make you feel better. It also helps you to clear your head and work through your emotions.
It can be hard to get any rest when you’re grieving Choma but your body needs the rest to avoid sickness and to able to restore itself. It’s true. If you’re struggling to sleep, try relaxation methods like meditation and listening to soothing music. Try to distract yourself from the stresses of the day by reading or winding down with a hot bath. Remember Choma: healthy body, healthy mind.
Finally, and most importantly: Give yourself time
Ignore people who tell you to “just get over it”. Your feelings are valid and important to you and you need to take the time you need to heal from your loss. Big or small, your loss and your feelings are yours and no one has the right to tell you how long your healing process should take. Good luck Choma and stay strong, I’m here for you
Remember, you can talk to me about anything. If you or a friend need advice or help, remember that you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)
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