“The stronger the wind, the stronger the tree.”
This is one of my favorite quotes. Grief comes in many forms and doesn’t just occur following the death of a loved one. I have been a daughter in grief, a wife in grief, and a mother raising kids in grief. I know it is not easy.
Maybe you are grieving another kind of loss: a romantic relationship, a friendship, a job, a house. Or maybe there’s a completely different kind of stressor in your life. Whatever you’re struggling with, here are some tips to help.
- Acknowledge and feel your feelings. Ignoring your emotions is like trying to run away from something that’s right on your shoulder. You may think about and replay events, but you’re not letting yourself feel the pain, loss, sadness, anger. Set a time limit to feel your emotions every day. Even 15 minutes can help to process your emotions.
- Talk about it. Talking about your troubles helps you better understand your own fears and get valuable feedback from others who may have experienced similar distress and can give you the perspective you need.
- Try to see past the hardship. When you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, it’s hard to see any positives. With some distance, you may be able to see the situation in a different light. Some lost jobs lead to better jobs, some broken relationships lead to better relationships, and some panic leads to getting the help you need.
- Prioritize self-care. Self-care is absolutely necessary to survive tough situations. You can always find time to take care of yourself. If you can’t prepare a nutritious meal, keep healthy snacks in your bag. If you can’t go to the gym for an hour, take a 10- to 15-minute walk around the block. Remember that a stressful situation isn’t a sprint; sometimes it may be more of a marathon. You need to take the necessary time to rest to reboot your mind and body.
- Practice acceptance. Let go of that which you cannot control. To start, make a list of everything you don’t have control over. These are the things you can stop worrying about.
- Ask for help. You might assume that you can and should handle this difficult time on your own. Many people do. We need to relinquish control, ask for help, and receive it with grace. When asking for help, you may need to be direct. Let others know what you need, such as support and compassion.
- Limit time with toxic people. These are individuals who are not supportive or reliable and don’t have your best interest at heart. They don’t listen to you, and might even be critical, judgmental or demanding. After being with them, you feel drained and depleted. In other words, they make you feel worse.
- Observe the situation as an outsider. Take several deep breaths, and focus on your intuition. You are very likely to derive some useful thoughts you would not have come upon within the midst of your anxious state.
- Remember that everyone heals differently. This is your journey and your feelings. Tough times can feel incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. Hardships are opportunities for growth and learning. They deepen our understandings of ourselves, others, and the world around us. There are hidden blessings that come with virtually every hardship, such as strength, wisdom, empathy or openness to a deeper spiritual/personal awareness.
Spotting grief in children can sometimes be tricky. Watch for other forms of acting out, discipline problems at school, sleep and/or attitude changes, change of friends and physical complaints are just a few things to be aware of. When symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks, or if there is more than one, it is time to take action. Talk to your family doctor and get help. Be sure to touch base with your child’s school to share information, as well. Best of all, to make sure you are protecting your children, talk to your kids on an ongoing basis so that you know what is normal for your kids and what is not.
When you put in the work to overcome your difficult experiences, you can heal. When we choose to do it together, our families can become even better in the end.
- The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook / Edition 6 by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman & Matthew McKay
- Stress Management and Prevention: Applications to Daily Life, 1st Edition by Kottler/Chen