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64 Self-Care Ideas for People Who Are Grieving

64 Self-Care Ideas for People Who Are Grieving

By Eleanor Haley

Self-care is a lot like flossing, you know you should do it regularly, but most people don’t. Why?  Probably because most people are overstressed, overworked, and overtired. Also, if you’re reading this blog right now, there’s a good chance that on top of all that, you’re grieving. 

For all these reasons, it’s important to look at self-care in as realistic a way as possible, choosing ideas and activities that people can actually do, not just aspire to. We always recommend you choose the coping and self-care activities that are right for you, but to get you started, we’ve put together 63 self-care ideas for people who are grieving.

 64 Self-Care Ideas for People Who are Grieving:

1. Take a walk:  Hike in the woods, on a local nature trail, or around the neighborhood.  The exercise will do you good and you never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet.

2. Take a nap:  The National Sleep Foundation says a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.

3. Smile:Did you know the simple act of smiling (even without a reason) can make you feel happy?

4. Read: A 2009 study showed that it took participants only six minutes to relax once they started reading.  For the purposes of stress relief, we suggest you forgo info heavy texts for a good novel, spiritual/religious reads, or self-help books.

5. Play: What is play?  It’s any purposeless kind of fun. 

6. Get a few minutes of fresh air and sunlight.

7. Have a good cry: Supposedly stress-related tears help the body rid itself of nasty cortisol (aka the stress hormone) raising chemicals.

8. Engage in a game or activity that requires focus:  I just completed a 1000 piece puzzle so I must warn you, while it was incredibly soothing I also forgot to do laundry, feed my children, or change out of my sweatpants until it’s completion four days later.  For something a little less time consuming, try your paper’s daily Crossword or Sudoku.

9. Practice patience.  

10. Practice forgiveness. 

11. Practice kindness.

12. Practice gratitude.

13. Plan a night out with friends: Go to your favorite restaurant, see a show, or attend a sporting event.

14. Establish a better work/life balance: Here’s how to stop work overload with a few simple boundaries.

15. Breathe

16. Listen to your favorite music playlist:  Music can have a positive impact on both our physical and emotional health, from reducing the perceived intensity of pain to relieving symptoms of depression.

17. Go somewhere that makes you feel at ease: My spot is Barnes and Noble.

18. Spring clean: Here’s advice on selling and donating items in your ‘give away’ pile.

19. Take stock of your support system: Who can you count on and how?

20. Look through old photographs.

21. Have one-on-one time with your children (that means one child at a time).

22. Make out: Apparently kissing boosts immunity, burns calories, and relaxes you.  Yeah!

23.  Okay so ‘no’ to making out. Why don’t you try cuddling instead?:  Cuddling reduces stress and makes you feel happy!  Equal opportunity cuddlers can snuggle up with a mate, child, or pup.

24. See a movie: My favorite grief relief activity.

25.  Watch funny YouTube videos.  Yes…seriously.

26.  Watch other videos on YouTube.

27. Have some self-compassion

28.  Plan a weekend getaway.

29.  Treat yourself to a day of relaxation: Not a fan of the spa?  Relax at home. 

30. Try a new hobby, like:

  • Photography

  • Journaling

  • Scrapbooking

  • Cooking/baking

31.  Make your annual doctors and dentist appointments (I know groan, but good health is a part of good self-care).

32. Cross something off of your bucket list: Don’t have a bucket list?  Create one here.

33.  Get into an exercise routine: I don’t need to espouse the benefits of exercise because you already know.

34. Cut back on your alcohol intake.

35. Be creative.

36. Join a support group: Among other benefits, support groups can help you gain a sense of empowerment and feel less lonely.

37. Seek online grief support (the fact that you’re here means you’re on the right track).

38. Make a plan to start eating healthy.

39. Then go eat a piece of chocolate and pour yourself a cup of coffee.

40. Get on the floor and play with your kids (or pet).

41. Find a quiet place where you can be alone with your thoughts.

42. Better yet, try a warm shower or a bubble bath.

43. See a counselor or therapist.

44. Visit your place of worship and spend time in prayer.

45. Join a club or group of any kind: There’s benefit in joining any group that gathers around something you like – camera clubs, choirs, widower happy hours, etc.

46. Volunteer your time.

47. Don’t let things hang over your head: Either do them or choose not to let not getting them done stress you out. For the proactive: Check things off your list with this ‘Get Off Your Ass Manifesto’.

48.  Sing at the top of your lungs: Research has shown that singing is like a tranquilizer that both soothes your nerves and makes you feel happy.

49.  Or I guess you could just dance with reckless abandon.

50.  Open your windows.

51.  Allow yourself a day of unapologetic sulking.

52.  Retail Therapy – Is it real??  Pssh…who cares? Time Magazine says it is, though.

53.  Sttttrrreeeetttccchhhh: Here’s a guide to 10 basic stretches.

54.  Comfort someone in their time of need.

55.  Spend time in a place where you feel close to your deceased loved one(s).

56.  Play a sport: Play by yourself or join an adult sports league.

57.  Take a yoga class.

58.  Find ways to make your workday healthier.

59.  Phone an old friend.

60.  Throw your plans out the window and spend a few days schedule-free.

61.  Practice deep breathing.

62.  Go for a drive.

63.  Limit the time you spend on the Internet and Social Media.

64.  Subscribe to ‘What’s Your Grief’ and then turn off your computer.

Yeah, you heard me.  

By Eleanor Haley, M.S. Eleanor is a Program Director and Co-Founder of What's Your Grief? WYG provides general educational information from mental health professionals. Eleanor lives in Maryland and received her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Loyola College in Maryland.

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