Learning to heal after loss: 4 self-care non-negotiables

Uncategorized Sep 30, 2020

Looking after our own basic needs in grief is often overlooked. We’re so tired, sad and lonely that we don’t see just how important it is to make sure our basic needs are met. 

In this article I want to highlight to you four key areas that are important to your healing journey. They’re not obvious, especially when you’re in the depths of grief. When your brain is overwhelmed with everything you have to deal with, your fundamental needs can be forgotten. 

By reading this article, I hope you’ll begin to understand how important these four key areas are to your healing journey. Hopefully, you’ll start taking steps in each area so that you’re more equipped to deal with the grief you’re going through. 

#1 Get plenty of sleep 

When we lose someone we love, we are unable at times to meet those basic human needs. This is because we’re completely overwhelmed and exhausted. 

This is why the first key area important to your healing journey, is sleep. Without sleep, we cannot cope, function or operate properly. Everything is so much harder to deal with when we are tired. You lose energy, your body isn’t able to restore itself and your mind isn’t able to process things correctly.

Ask yourself this: 

  • What are you doing before you go to bed?
  • What do you do if you wake up in the night?
  • What do you do the minute you wake up in the morning?

Atleast one of those answers is going to be looking at your phone. Our phones often become a source of company for us when we lose a loved-one. However, there is a time and a place for phones and so boundaries must be set. 

Getting sleep right is so important for you, your healing, your health and your life.

What can I do to make it better? 

  • Turn your phone off (if this is something you can do)
  • Put your phone to the other side of the room (if you’re unable to switch it off)
  • Relax by reading, meditating or taking a bath
  • Take the time to process your day, a journal may help
  • Have a pad and paper next to your bed instead of your phone
  • Make sure your room is light, airy and clutter free
  • Have something next to your bed that makes you feel good, such as a photo or a quote


#2 Think about your nutrition 

The second thing I want to talk to you about is your nutrition

Ask yourself this: 

  • What are you eating?
  • When are you eating?
  • Are you eating plenty of fruit and vegetables?
  • Are you eating a proper meal?
  • Are you drinking enough water?

Now is not the time to be going on a diet. This is about making sure that whatever you are consuming is nourishing you. Not only am I talking about food, I’m talking about what you’re consuming in your mind.

Notice what you’re consuming in all areas of your life; from reading to who you’re spending time with. This can be overwhelming, so for now I want you to focus on your diet and see if you can make any improvements.

What can I do to make it better? 

  • Add things that are good for you; an extra portion of veg/fruit, a home cooked meal
  • Try to reduce the processed foods, sugary snacks and alcohol

I know food can be a source of comfort, it certainly is for me. But the things we ‘treat’ ourselves to don’t actually help us feel any better. 


#3 Make sure you’re moving

The third thing I want to talk about is movement. You don’t have to take up running, or swimming but you do need to make sure you’re moving.

Ask yourself this: 

  • Have you been getting out in nature, and moving your body?
  • Is your heart pumping, releasing those feel-good hormones?
  • Are you doing 10,000 steps a day?

It doesn't have to be any more complicated than making sure you are doing the recommended 10,000 steps per day. If you want to go for a run or a bike ride or a swim, then do so, but start at the beginning. 

If you haven't been moving your body for a while, start slow and each week try and do a little more, a little quicker. It will help you sleep, reduce your stress and release feel good hormones.

It is so important to move our bodies. The health benefits are huge. Exercise reduces depression, anxiety, and overwhelm. Being in nature grounds us and is so soothing for the soul. 

What can I do to make it better? 

  • Go for at least one walk per day
  • Explore nature
  • Complete your 10,000 steps each day


#4 Relieve some stress

Finally, I want to talk about stress. Stress is huge. When someone dies there's so much to do, so much to sort out and so much to think about, it is incredibly overwhelming. Where do we start? What can we do to make it better? 

How to relieve some stress

Firstly, get everything out of your head and onto paper:

  • Write lists, highlight everything that can be given to someone else to do
  • Prioritise the rest of the list and break each part down into bite-sized chunks
  • Don’t be overwhelmed by it, you can do it

 Once you’ve broken it down, set some time aside each day:

  • Be realistic about what you can achieve
  • Feel more in control by setting realistic goals and knowing you’ll achieve them
  • Be proud of yourself for taking action and doing the things you need to

It's not easy and there's no quick fix or easy answer, we have to do the things we don't always want to do to get us through. But you can do this, believe in yourself, know that you are worth it and spend time looking after you. 


Looking after yourself is the priority

When you've covered these four points; you've slept well, nourished your body with things that make it feel good, got out in nature, moved your body and taken control of the stress and overwhelm. You will feel empowered, liberated, and more in control.

Just by taking these steps in your life, you will see that you are capable of so much more than you realised. This will build momentum and you will keep achieving more and more.

You will feel better. You will feel stronger.

You will be achieving those jobs on your, to do list, ticking them off one by one. 

This will instil a sense of pride in you. And when we have done all these things and we start to feel better on the inside, everything on the outside will start to feel better too.

So, look after you, get enough sleep, nourish your body, move your body and reduce stress. They may be basic, they may be obvious, but that doesn't mean they're easy to do. But, they are incredibly important to your healing journey.


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