10 Ways to Stay Afloat During Grief
It’s easy to be optimistic and light-hearted until you’re hit with something really devastating. While life does, thankfully, bring more snowstorms than real blizzards, the blizzards that shower us can be all-encompassing. Here are ten tips to help you stay afloat.
1. Stay busy, but not too busy. Keeping up with your routines and activities is good for you—even if you have to initially force it. However, don’t overdo it. You need time to be still and get in touch with your feelings, even if they’re feelings you’d rather not experience.
2. Talk to someone. Professional counseling falls in this category, but this can also be as simple as talking to your partner, parent, sibling or a close friend. Talk to someone who really takes time to listen to you and doesn’t always give advice. If you’re an extrovert like I am, then you’re prone to figuring out your own way just by talking through it with a friend.
3. Forgive those who don’t understand. People will say insensitive things to you without even realizing it or meaning to—because they don’t understand what you’re going through yet want to empathize or relate. Try not to let irritating or hurtful comments add to your larger emotional burden.
4. Acknowledge post-traumatic stress. War veterans aren’t the only ones who experience PTSD. Reliving a traumatic event and having a constant state of anxiety are just two symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Make sure to care for yourself and get the help that you need.
5. Ask for help. Asking for help is much harder than it should be. Resist the urge to suffer in silence.
6. Accept help. Don’t turn away people that want to help you when you need it. This can be as simple as just saying thank you and accepting a dinner from a caring individual or letting your spouse watch your child while you rest. Don’t be a martyr. We are meant to be social creatures, so when you isolate yourself, it’s often a real sign that something’s wrong.
7. The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Don’t lose your optimistic self—even if it feels vaguely like someone you used to know. Try to keep in the back of your mind that sadness will not be your current state forever. Life moves on and time doesn’t heal all wounds—but you will feel better, even if it takes a long time.
8. The world keeps moving—but take time to be still. When I experienced personal trauma, I couldn’t believe that the world didn’t stop when mine had. You wonder how people could care about what kind of bread to toast or if the dishes are clean. When something shakes you to your core, simple life duties go out the window—but the rest of the world hasn’t changed. Keep in mind that this is why you might need to ask for and accept help—just to get through your day. At the same time, don’t judge yourself for not caring—and try not to take others’ continuing motion as a personal affront.
9. Get on your yoga mat. My yoga mat has been a refuge for me at many different times in my life. Yoga practices are designed to cleanse and comfort—and my mat almost always helps me connect with myself, which is a good place to start.
10. You are not a formula. There is, unfortunately, no formula for how to heal from life’s wounds. We all have battle scars and they all heal at different rates. I think the deepest scars are the ones you can’t see with your eyes. The worst part is that scabs get picked at—you think you’re healed and then something small sets you off. Be patient and kind with yourself always, because the pace that you heal at is the right one.
At moments, life can feel like a landslide rather than a journey, and loss and grief can hit you out of nowhere—and for many reasons. Sometimes all we can do is remember that our most beautiful rainbows come from the sunlight after a very dark storm—and if you know someone in need, try offering to share an umbrella until it passes.