Breathing exercises are so important to do on a daily basis when you are grieving. They helped me deepen my connection with my body and bring awareness to the present moment. I found that when tension in my body was released, my mind was able to take a break from worrying about my loss and how I would cope in the future, which is a side effect of grief.
My grief settles in my belly and chest. I find myself tensing up to protect myself from future pain. Learning to breathe and soften my stomach and chest muscles has helped me to relax and let go
How to breathe:
1. Find a quiet, comfortable place for a few minutes. Sit up straight with your hands by your sides or on top of your legs, palms up or down—whichever feels most natural and relaxed.
2. Close your eyes; breathe deeply through your nose so that your abdomen expands first, followed by your chest for a count of four.
3. Hold your breath for a count of eight.
4. Slowly exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound to the count of twelve.
5. Repeat four times.
6. Open your eyes. Breathe normally. Take a minute before standing to make sure you are not lightheaded.
Grief is often described as a journey – one that does not present a clear or efficient route from Point A to Point B.
In fact, in my own experience, Point B may not even exist on the map. For me, the grief process is one I navigate every day, with most of those days (but certainly not all) a little happier and healthier than the last.
Unfortunately, along that journey there are often outsiders telling you which turn to take, when it’s “okay” to stop and rest or maybe even trying to convince you that you’re already at Point B and it’s time to end this journey and move on to the next. The thing is, grieving is a complicated, personal process, and society’s opinions, requirements and stigmas only serve to make the terrain rougher – and the griever weaker.
Despite what you’ve seen in the movies, there’s more to college than Greek Week and beer pong. In fact, “the best years of your life” (as so many college graduates like to say) can be tough on anyone. You’re juggling class schedules, homework, work, extracurricular activities like sports or music – all at a time when you’re (most likely) on your own for the first time. Sure, college life is exciting, but it can also be a really stressful and confusing time.
Ask anyone – or one out of five students, anyway. That’s how many college students suffer from anxiety or depression. As I’ve traveled the country speaking to teenage students, I’m often hit by the reality of how much you have on your plates – and how much you carry on your shoulders (and in your brains).
While bouts of anxiety or depression can be normal – like the anxiousness you feel prior to a test or try-outs, or the sadness you experience after a breakup – if these feelings are prolonged or become intense enough to interfere with your daily life, it’s time to get help.
Anxiety and depression are becoming much more commonplace on college campuses. But why is your demographic suffering so much? We can likely blame several factors –the loneliness and fear of being independent for the first time, pressure from parents, coaches and yourself to perform well, financial difficulties, romantic drama and bullying or peer pressure to name a few. Add to that the abundance of drugs and alcohol on college campuses and the fact that mental illness often manifests in adolescence and early adulthood and its easy to see why so many students struggle.
Does this sound familiar?
You could be juggling the stress of college beautifully. But don’t beat yourself up if you’re not. Either way, it’s critical to be open and honest with yourself about how you feel – and to ask for help when you need it.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms of anxiety disorders, it’s time to talk to a professional.
Anxiety can often go hand in hand with depression, but you can certainly experience one without the other. You may have depression if you recognize any of these symptoms:
Both depression and anxiety can be scary – on or off a college campus. That’s because mental illnesses, by definition, distort your thinking. They create a false reality in which you’re fearful, worthless, incapable and undeserving of all the good life has to offer. And when your own brain is telling you that, it’s really easy to believe it.
The good news is, like any illness, anxiety and depression are both treatable. Therapy and/or medication can help you feel like you again. If you think you may have anxiety or depression, talk to your doctor or a medical professional.
The truth is, anxiety and depression likely won’t just “go away” on their own. That’s why it’s critical that you recognize the issue and work toward coping with the symptoms and/or treating any underlying causes. My new book, Beneath the Surface, explains how anxiety and depression affect your brain and your life, offering real, tactical methods to treat it as well as resources for getting the help you need. For more information, visit www.thegriefgirl.com.
If you have feelings of self-harm or suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
by Kristi Hugstad
Each of us has attached ourselves to something or somebody, and when you lose that special thing or person, you grieve. Always. You can try to run from it all you want, but it will always find you and tackle you when you’re not looking. My blogs, along with my books, will give you the tools to help you learn to live with your new self as you journey through your grief.