6 ways I take care of my body while grieving
Self-care is important.
I hear you.
Some days I wanna inhale essential oils until my nose hairs burn off, or order every "Sunburst Pick Me Up" smoothie on the menu. Other days I want to sleep from 9am - 5pm and watch Mindy with a bowl of Kraft mac and cheese. What I've learned? I can do both.
There's a ton that I've done to stay aware of where I'm at, especially in the year and a half since my mom died. Of course, some of that was spurred by the shock of, "Oh god, we're ALL gonna die." Some of it was sparked by reading I've done about how other people survived their hardest periods of grief. And lots of it was the result of support from family and friends that make sure I'm doing everything I can to function and survive #blessed.
So here's a few things that I do to take care of my body (and keep my sanity) while grieving. They're intentional, enjoyable, and all for me *someone I have to make time for when I'm caught up in the whirlwind of things that make it easy to ignore my grief.
I eat trash.
Right after my mom died, my definition of "good food" was anything that tasted good — see: carbs, cream, booze, carbs, fries, fries with cheese, carbs, and booze-carbs. And though I can't survive on quesadillas and beer alone, I eat what I want because life is hard enough without kicking myself for some fried chicken. As many a doctor, counselor, nutritionist, and food blogger have told me... it's important to take it freakin' easy on myself. There are a ton of great benefits to eating well, but there are also so many pressures put on us while grieving that sometimes getting up in the morning, putting on make-up, and being on time is a big win. I love to cook veggies, make green pea hummus from scratch, and experiment with recipes for pickling. But some nights I truly just need to get out, eat a burger, and chill.
I eat well.
On the flipside, I've seen the real value of putting good food in my body. I'm doing my best to work *with* my body to make sure that I'm happy. Not against it with foods that make it impossible to sleep or think clearly — these things are hard enough when my brain is clouded with sadness and stress, and my energy is low because that stress is draining. And I've learned that it's about balance, whenever you can find it.
I'm seeing new kinds of health specialists.
Grief impacts ALL parts of our lives. And when I say all, I mean all. It's not just about crying more and being depressed. It changes the way we think, digest food, metabolize food, sleep, talk, express our feelings, process, and just function in general. I've met with tons of specialists to learn about new ways that grief has completely changed my life, and how my body AND my brain need new kinds of support. So I've opened myself up: wanna spray me with rose water so I calm the f down? Great. Want to put me on a cleanse so that my guts stop working against me? Let's try it. Want to help me figure out how to meditate, exercise, cook new things, buy the right kinds of oils for my diffuser? Here's my calendar, schedule it in.
I sit on my phone and talk to old friends.
Sometimes it's important to connect with the people that know me best. The ones who I don't have to explain my situation to, or who I can text-curse to without them wondering, "Is this normal? Should I be concerned? Is she REALLY okay?" Yes, I'm okay. Sometimes I just need the comfort of not putting on a face or taking off a mask — I just need to be me for a minute.
I get the f' outside... AND stay the f' home.
It's summer again and I am ready for anything and everything that'll get me outside with the sun raining down on my skin. Cali girl? You betcha. And after spending an entire winter indoors between my apartment and my office three blocks away, it's time to GTFO. BUT! I'm also very, very, very ready to say "Yes!" to any night where I ask myself, "Am I going to hard? Have I socialized too much this week? Is it 'okay' to just chill on the couch this weekend?" I've learned that to reboot I need a mix of the right people and the right activities, not just go, go, go and people, people, people.
I set my own standards of what "healthy" is.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of shame that comes with grief. Questions like, "Am I doing this right?" "Am I TOO sad?" "Am I TOO happy?" "Should I be acting this way?" and "Is this how everyone else grieves?" I've made the mistake of letting other people answer these questions for me, and now I'm taking these standards into my own hands. Grief is a personal experience and when the love of your life, sole support system, or best friend dies, there is no "normal" anymore. And for me, this isn't about getting "back" to normal, but setting a whole new standard of what works for me.