When we are confronted with life altering circumstances, such as the loss of a loved one, stress is an inevitable and natural response. It is, in many ways, part of how we cope – how we heal; however, it must be properly acknowledged so that it is managed in a way that permits us to continue living a healthy and productive life.
Oftentimes, it is easier to see signs of stress in others than in ourselves. Loss brings about stress in the form of grief, which can present itself in many ways. It is critical that we know how to acknowledge the symptoms associated with the stress of grieving so that we can begin exploring ways of caring for ourselves that will help to guide us through the grieving process towards making a successful recovery.
Below are some of the most common symptoms, as well as some self care tips:
Physical symptoms include: changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, lower immune response, exhaustion, muscle / joint pain, breathing difficulties, chest pain, clumsiness, or self-destructive behavior.
Mental symptoms include: forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, increased errors and accidents, self doubt, disproportionate worry and fear.
Emotional symptoms include: short patience, mood swings, desire to withdraw, excess crying, numbness, anxiety, argumentative, hopelessness.
A few self-care ideas include: exercising, spending time in nature, meditating, pursuing new experiences, writing in a journal, letting yourself cry, calling an old friend to reconnect, taking a vacation without destination obligations, clarifying your own needs and beginning to make requests, holding hands with someone close to you, getting a massage – the options here are endless.
Grief is a natural response to loss; it does not have to be a way of life. The decision is yours and it is one that needs to be made on an ongoing basis. What will you commit to do in the next 24 hours that says, “I am responsibly attending to my own needs today.” Breath it in – enjoy!