I know this isn’t the happiest of subjects, but one part of living life is that it is really freaking hard sometimes and not only have I experienced it, I see it come up over and over again for others.
**Something happened, and I haven’t been able to get out of bed for days.** // **Something happened, and I’ve been so stressed that I haven’t eaten in days.** // **Something happened, I ate alllll the things and now my sugar dragon is back and/or I feel like crap.** // ** I just feel lost and I don’t know what to do.**
Grief and crisis affects us emotionally, physically and spiritually — even when we’re not willing to admit it to ourselves (how many times have you said ‘I’m fine’ / ‘I’m OK’ when you really just wanted to ugly cry, in a ball, on the floor?).
It can feel like you are in the middle of the ocean: sometimes the waves are big + overwhelming and other times, the seas are calm + manageable.
Please remember, you still need and are worthy of self-care. I would argue, you will need it even more so during stressful times! Here are some tips that have worked for me, but remember, I am in no way perfect or know everything. I hope this list opens your mind, leads you to explore and find what works for you.
The reason I created this resource is because I’ve recently had my own bout with loss: my sister lost her battle with cancer at the age of 45 in January and I’ve noticed that even my own family has their challenges with coping. These tips not only allow me to grieve but to grieve in a healthy manner.
Top Five Tips
- There is no “right way” to grieve or handle crisis.
There is no roadmap for this process. Yes, we can rely a bit on our past experiences and reach out for support but this is going to look different for everyone. Even those experiencing the same loss/crisis aren’t going to navigate it in the same way as you. Remind yourself that we are all doing the best we can in those tough moments (including you). This is not linear; there is no step 1,2 or 3; some days you will feel beyond bad and other days, you will feel ok and you will find your new normal. If anyone tells you that you should “just be over it” already, maybe reconsider your relationship with that person.
2. Except and Seek Out Support & Maintain Healthy Boundaries
If people are willing to cook you meals, take them up on it and send them your favorite recipes and requests – this can be gluten-free/dairy-free/vegan options. If they don’t follow your requests, don’t feel obligated to eat it. You can also get freezer meals from grocery stores like Walmart and CostCo (did you know that Walmart has Whole30 frozen meals that are $5?!). More on this in the Nutrition section below!
If you are feeling alone, let them come over or go out for coffee – I might even suggest that if you’ve been alone for a period of time and still want to be alone that you reach out and at least talk to someone – even if it feels counter intuitive. Again, do the best you can in the moment. Maybe a local support group or therapist is also a good idea to explore. Grief can and does change the brain chemistry of some people and there’s nothing that all the food, exercise and sleep in the world can do. You might need the support of allopathic medicine temporarily or long term. You might want to call a hotline if you feel like there’s no one else. Don’t poo-poo any method.
If someone seems to be overstepping their boundaries (no matter how good their intentions), don’t be afraid to let them know. You do not need to add anymore stress to your plate. ‘No, Thank You’ (period, the end) is a great answer in some situations. My mom had several people inquire to come to my sister’s intimate ash-spreading ceremony, I was afraid she wouldn’t be strong enough to say No, but she did. I am glad she did because it made the ceremony more meaningful to us and we didn’t have to worry about sharing it with anyone else (trust me when I say there was a lot of ugly crying).
3. Nutrition + Food Freedom
This is probably not the time to completely overhaul your current diet, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t make small meaningful shifts or if you know what works optimally for you, to return to that for a short reset.
I recommend saving the overhaul when stress levels are reduced and you’ve adapted to your new normal.
When you’re in the middle of crisis, you usually feed like eating anything + everything or don’t feel like eating at all. I don’t think you should do either. I’m also not saying don’t eat the cake, but maybe not the whole cake, k?
This might be a good time to remind you that you’re, in fact, an adult. Eat what you want, but if it’s making you feel worse (an not eating is also going to make you feel worse) just a reminder that no one is forcing you to eat/not eat anything.
I recently applied similar principles of my Food Freedom this past weekend, as we honored and started to say goodbye to my sister and stayed with my parents. Food Freedom is a term used to describe feeling in control of the food you eat and not feeling powerless to your cravings.
Online Grocery Shopping + Home Delivery If available in your area, many grocery stores or services like Instacart allow you to shop online and get the goods delivered right to your door. Use Amazon Prime or Boxed to get non-perishables delivered to your doorstep. Often shipping costs less than 5 extra dollars or are free. Grab some easy, healthy foods for meals and snacks and keep your sweats/PJs on.
You do not have to eat everything NOR should you eat nothing. I enjoyed my mother’s homemade chocolate cake (she would always bake this cake for our birthdays) and my Dad’s homemade cinnamon rolls, but I enjoyed one piece and one roll. I did not eat the old Easter candy. I didn’t eat things that I don’t really like (cornmeal muffins) and I had a total of three glasses of wine the entire week. I didn’t say no to everything, but I was very picky about what I did say yes to, this is my Food Freedom.
On the other hand, you might be so stressed that you suppress your appetite and end up eating nothing or very little. Try to sit down, without distractions with a plate of food or snack. Eat what you can. Remind yourself, this is not your forever feeling(s).
Reset / Start Something New When You Feel Better. Do a Whole30 reset or start that new plan when you feel better and can give it attention and effort. Give yourself a good shot at success, rather than try something when you’re already suffering and add insult to injury when you just don’t have the energy for it.
4. Move Your Body
Before you roll your eyes at me, I am not saying you should go do a hard workout, Crossfit WOD, tempo/long mileage run or anything of the sort. Again, grief + crisis does manifest itself physically too. A 10 minute walk, 10 minute gentle yoga practice or light cardio/weights might be all you can muster and that’s fantastic. A hard workout is likely going to add more stress to your body that you don’t need (hello, cortisol!). A little activity can help you produce some endorphins and feel better. Endorphins have been shown to help reduce depression symptoms and elevate your mood. One study found that just under 10 minutes of activity was enough to experience the natural high from exercise.