It was my birthday this week. Usually, I have a couple of gatherings to celebrate; dinner with my mom, outing with my sisters and maybe a breakfast or happy hour with some friends. But this year is different ... it's different for all of us who are celebrating in isolation, let alone when grieving.
In honor of all our birthdays, I came up with some self care tips on how to celebrate your special day. These self-care tips will help you stay emotionally and physically healthy and better able to ride through the highs and lows we're all experiencing during this pandemic.
Learn to enjoy those post-self-care feelings of satisfaction, gratitude, completion, and pride. Being at your best is especially important on your special day; your birthday or anniversary. Make it happen. Your deserve it.
1. Dress up. Looking your best makes you feel good about yourself. It boosts your confidence, improves your attitude, energy, and you'll be more personable to those around you.
2. Put on make-up, shave. Your beautiful reflection in the mirror will act as an instant pick-me-up. Putting forth your A-game is a great reminder that you've still got it..
3. Light candles. No need to wait until dark. Light scented candles to create the mood you want. Use the power of aromatherapy to send powerful signals to your brain. For romance, try orange, rose, and patchouli. For relaxation, lavender, jasmine, vanilla and chamomile.
4. Get out in nature. A natural environment helps you center your mind, decreases stress hormones, improves blood pressure and the harmless bacteria found in soil boosts your serotonin levels.
5. Play your favorite songs. Music releases dopamine which results in increased pleasure. We don't feel threat or danger when listening to music so it's a much needed break from our current reality.
6. Dance around the house. Dancing releases endorphins in your brain and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. As you move, your muscles relax to the music and that helps release built up tension. Dance alone or with your partner or kids.
7. Prepare your favorite meal. The act of cooking is meditative and leads to improved diet and higher levels of serotonin. It requires you to be engaged and present and is a perfect activity to enjoy alone or with your partner.
8. Cuddle. When you cuddle with someone you care about whether it's your dog, cat, spouse, child; your body releases oxytocin, a feel good chemical that calms you, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and lowers cortisol levels.
9. Watch a movie. One movie. Although binge-watching (2-5 hours consecutively) has become a socially accepted term, it actually can affect your health and well-being. Excessive TV watching increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, depression, and may become an addictive behavior.
10. Consume your favorite beverages. Enjoy a glass of wine, quarintini, green tea or sparkling water. Stay hydrated while rewarding yourself with a cocktail or two.
11. Take 10 deep breaths. (4-7-8.) Inhale to count of 4, hold breath for 7, exhale for 8. Deep breaths increase the lungs' capacity to push out excess air and clear out toxins and deliver oxygen to the blood at a greater rate. This helps to reduce stress, slow heartbeat and reduce blood pressure.
What happens when the tools we use every day to combat depression and anxiety are literally spreading a global pandemic? Throughout the country, more and more states are mandating “social distancing” tactics, requiring residents to stay home from school, work, social and religious gatherings and closing movie theaters, restaurants and gyms. The result? We’re all left with time on our hands – alone time, that is. Add to that the ever-spreading anxiety brought by sensationalized media, panicked disaster preppers and the creeping fear of the unknown and you have the ultimate recipe for depression.
Whether you’re living in a state with a stay-at-home order or you’re just doing your part to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, all those long days of hunkering down can certainly take their toll on your mental wellbeing. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, or you’re just feeling stir-crazy and fearful about the coming weeks, take these proactive steps to protect and improve your mental and emotional health.
When tragedy strikes, it’s important to grieve in an honest and healthy way.
Death and grief are part of each of our lives, but sometimes these losses are more difficult – or even impossible – to understand. Today, the sudden and premature deaths of nine people aboard a California helicopter, including NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, has left the country reeling in grief and disbelief. Here at The Grief Girl, we send our love and deepest sympathies to the families and friends of everyone in that helicopter.
Sudden deaths, along with natural disasters, terror attacks and other tragedies, evoke a range of emotions in all of us. It’s normal to feel saddened, vulnerable, fearful of the future and overwhelmed by the helplessness you feel to comfort others or inflict change on a seemingly cruel world. At times like these, it’s important to honor your feelings in an honest and healthy way. You might feel shock, sorrow, fear, anger, grief or any number of emotions. Through this time, there are a few things you can do to heal and help others heal:
Talk to someone. Even if you were not personally affected by an event, it’s natural to seek comfort in a time of grief, fear and stress. Whether you talk to a friend, family member or a professional, it’s important that you allow your feelings to be heard.
Take a break. It might be empathy, curiosity, anger or worry that compels you to sit in front of the news for hours on end – or frequently check headlines on your phone. Being informed is important, but obsessively following the news (particularly following a tragedy) can deepen your sense of distress and helplessness. It’s okay to unplug. Honor those affected in quiet prayers or meditation instead.
Help others. In the wake of a tragedy, there is always help needed. And when you’re feeling helpless, small acts of kindness and love can help these feelings dissipate. Whether you’re donating blood, raising money for victims or simply lending a hand in an unrelated cause, helping out – and being around others who are doing the same – can restore your faith in human love and kindness.
Please remember that the world in which we live is filled with love and beauty. As we struggle to understand events like these, it’s important that we, above all else, show kindness and acceptance to each other. From all of us at The Grief Girl, our prayers and love are with you.
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.