How to look after your physical health after bereavement

In this grief guide

Types of loss

Emotional effects

Emotional health

Physical effects

Physical health

The initial shock, the lead up to the funeral and the overwhelming emotions at the beginning stages of grief take over quickly and make it easy to neglect your own health and wellbeing. Looking after yourself at this difficult time is more important than ever. 

Although most people focus on the emotional effects of grief, its physical side can be quite serious: exhaustion, aches and pains, disturbed sleep, digestive problems, weight gain or loss etc. It can also worsen the symptoms of existing and chronic conditions, so looking after your physical health needs to be on your list of priorities too. 

Please consider the following suggestions regarding your physical health after bereavement:

Healthy diet

Cooking and eating whilst grieving the loss of a loved one can become a chore which takes too much of your time and energy. The temptation is to avoid it and resolve to sandwiches, takeaways or any other form of fast food. Make sure you provide your body with sufficient amount of energy and the nutrients it needs to function. 

If your eating habits don’t improve and you feel that it becomes a problem, you need to see your GP. 

Regular sleep 

Your body repairs itself while you sleep and a good night’s sleep at this difficult time is more important than ever. However, that’s easier said than done because the stress and trauma of your loss are quite likely to have a disturbing effect on your sleeping. 

Try to limit the use of electronic devises before bed. The blue light they transmit tricks your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime and that keeps you awake. Read a book or a magazine instead of looking at your phone or tablet whilst you are in bed trying to go to sleep. Avoid self-medication and see your doctor if your sleeping doesn’t improve. 

Exercise to keep your physical well being in shape 

The main reason for exercising whilst grieving is the release of endorphins and their ability to interact with your brain receptors to reduce the perception of pain and discomfort. Endorphins are the hormones which evoke positive feelings, euphoria and general wellbeing. 

If you are not a gym person, then consider walking, cycling or doing some sort of mild exercising at home to benefit from the release of endorphins. 

How do you look after your physical health after bereavement?

Help us keep this grief resource complete and up to date. Share your thoughts and advice in the comments sections below so that newly bereaved readers can benefit from your experience.

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