At some point in their lives, everybody experiences grief. If you’ve recently lost someone, getting through this difficult time can be a challenge. The key to success is taking things one day at a time. This guide lays out some small but actionable everyday steps you can implement to start feeling like yourself again.
Create a Soothing Space to Grieve
Grief isn’t a linear process. Instead, you may find that one day you are feeling great and the next day you feel like your loss just happened and your wounds are fresh. When these difficult moments strike, it’s important to have a safe haven to retreat to. Give your home some attention to make sure it offers the soothing environment you need.
Start by decluttering, cleaning out your closets, cabinets, and storage areas to eliminate things you no longer need. According to Stanford University, research suggests that clutter can contribute to stress, essentially overstimulating the brain. Once you’ve decluttered, create a healthier house by adding stress-busting items like plants and improving lighting.
Take Care of Yourself Physically
Putting in the effort to care for yourself physically will ultimately leave you feeling better in mind, body, and spirit. Start by focusing on your diet. Preparing healthy meals that you can quickly reheat—such as crockpot recipes—is a great way to cook for yourself when grief has sapped your energy. Hearty stews and soups are easy to freeze and store.
Regular physical activity can also be pivotal in helping you maintain your mental health while dealing with grief. Exercise boosts feel-good endorphins in the brain, giving you a rush of happiness. Consider working out with a friend, as they will hold you accountable to a regular routine, keep you motivated, and—most importantly—make the process more fun.
Engage in Soothing Habits to Combat Stress
Grieving can be stressful, especially when unexpected triggers arise. Being able to recognize the things that trigger your stress response will help you to better avoid and cope with them. You can then implement stress management techniques, like using deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. You might also try journaling or listening to calming music.
Another small but effective thing you can do to tackle stress is to spend more time outdoors. Research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that spending time in green spaces, known as forest bathing, can reduce stress. Find a nearby park or hiking trail where you can immerse yourself in nature.
Contribute to the World Outside of Yourself
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to get through your grief is to stop focusing on yourself and instead focus on the world outside of you. There are many simple ways to do this. Volunteering is one option. Experts suggest that volunteering can increase positive feelings by releasing dopamine and, in turn, reduce stress.
There are many things you can do, from supporting a local soup kitchen to working at an animal shelter. If you really love animals, you might even consider adopting a four-legged pet of your own. Having an animal companion can help keep loneliness at bay. It will also require you to get out into the world, for example to take your dog for a walk or to the park. These steps can help you through your grieving. However, if you are still struggling emotionally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. From support groups to mental health experts, there are many resources for you. You don’t have to go through this journey alone.
Camille Johnson created Bereaver after she went through the ups and downs of the bereavement process herself following the loss of her parents and husband. With the help of her friend who was also experiencing a loss of her own, she learned how to grieve the healthy way, and she wants to share that with others. There is no one way to grieve, but it is important to do it in a way that supports your physical and mental health throughout.