How to Manage Grief: 7 Tried and True Strategies
At some point in our lives, millions of us find ourselves overwhelmed by grief. And that grief can persist for a long time – over sixty-five percent of Americans who have lost a parent still think about their lost relative regularly.
There are all sorts of helpful ways or strategies to deal with grief, some of which might seem like common sense and others that might be a bit more surprising.
Read on to learn different strategies to help you learn how to manage grief.
1. Acknowledge Your Grief
The first step toward managing your grief is to acknowledge it. There’s no point in living in denial. That’s true of any emotional upheaval – repressing your feelings is only going to make things worse.
While it might not feel the best at first, in order to begin coping with grief, you need to truly understand the depths to which your grief has affected you.
Think about your previous relationship with your lost loved one, and everything you’ll be missing in the future. You will really need to mourn that alternate reality, particularly in the case of a surprising or sudden loss.
2. Create a Support System
Having a support system around you is a great way to help you manage your grief. Depending on your loss, your friends and family may not be able to sympathize, but they will still be able to emphasize with your situation.
And, talking with people who have faced a similar (or even the same) loss will be helpful for you. You’ll be able to talk about your lost loved one and your unresolved feelings about the situation.
It’s always important to know that you’re not alone when you’re working through grief. This will prevent you from drowning in it. You’ll always have people who can help hold you up.
Even if your friends or family members can’t relate, they’ll still be there for you when you’re dealing with grief. They can help you get your mind off things, or lend you a friendly ear to listen to your thoughts and feelings.
3. Practice Self-Care
When you’re managing your grief, it’s important for you to continue taking care of yourself. This can feel impossible at times, especially when you’re in the depths of your grief. That’s why you should take things slowly.
Start by doing simple self-care tasks, like drinking enough water and taking a jog around the block. Then, you can slowly work your way up to more intensive tasks, like following a regular sleep schedule and eating a healthy diet.
Above all else, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. That’s a recipe for distracting from your ability to continue coping with grief effectively. The harder you are on yourself, the worse you’ll feel, and the harder it will be to cope.
4. Use Healthy Coping Mechanisms
While some coping mechanisms can be problematic, using positive coping methods you’ve relied on in the past can really help you get through a rough patch.
Some examples of healthy coping mechanisms include:
- Different forms of exercise, such as yoga
- Meditation and other mindfulness strategies
- Relaxing in a bath
- Spending time with loved ones
- Spending time outside in nature
If you’ve only ever used unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with emotional distress in the past, you may want to work with a professional to help you develop more positive approaches.
5. Seek Professional Help If You Need It
Of course, talking to a professional is a great way to help you manage your grief. A grief counselor can help you identify your feelings, and help you work out the root of your emotions.
This will make it easier to parse out which of your emotions are related to your grief, and which are related to other problems or experiences in your life.
6. Try Creative Expression
Another grief management strategy you can use is to utilize creative outlets to work out your emotions. Writing, either in a journal or in more creative endeavors, is one good one. If you play an instrument, try using that to work out your feelings.
People who like to draw or paint can try out more abstract forms of expression. If you haven’t previously tried any creative hobbies, it might be time to start. You can experiment with a few different methods to find the kind that works for you.
Plus, creative expression can be fun. Just because you’re grieving doesn’t mean all of your energy has to go into mourning. Taking a break to feel lighter and have fun is a great way to help you manage your grief.
7. Don’t Make Big Decisions
When you’re grieving, it can feel tempting to make major life decisions, such as quitting your job or moving. It’s important to put these decisions off until you have more of a handle on your grief.
You don’t want to look back in a few years and regret making a decision just because you were trying to escape your feelings. Take a deep breath, put a pin in the idea, and wait a few months before making a major shift.
How to Manage Grief: Start Today
Hopefully, you now have some idea of how to manage grief. But, it’s always important to put your ideas into practice, in order to optimize your mental health.
Do you want a mental health professional to help you work through your emotions? Contact Center of Balance counseling today.