During times of stress or loss we can be at increased risk for injuries and setbacks. One goal of Body Aware Grieving is to avoid creating new problems while we learn to recover from any current difficulties.
There are many ways problems can become multiplied when we are upset. During strong emotions it is harder to think clearly and move with care which can lead to avoidable accidents, especially while driving. Stress can also weaken our immune system which leaves us more prone to becoming sick. Upsetting times also tend to increase challenges with various forms of addiction like drug, alcohol or eating disorders. It is not our intention to judge anyone’s behavior or choices, we only care about increasing our ability to sustain and improve health.
There are many circumstances when we need to take especially good care of ourselves. After experiencing a trauma, hearing bad news, the first days, weeks or months following a death of a loved one, romantic break up other major life change. Other problems can be more chronic and long-term like financial struggle, care giving for a friend or family member, dealing with poor health, depression, or struggling with physical changes due to aging.
The following Injury Reduction Techniques are intended for any situation when physical and/or mental function is impaired. Please see which ones most suit your current needs and situation. Feel free to ask any questions or make comments in the section below!
Ways to evaluate ones current situation and begin to organize effective care.
Body Aware Grieving Basic Self-Care Questions
System for evaluating one’s current level of physical, mental and emotional function.
Learn to reduce frustrations by adding a moment of pleasure to accepting what one can not change.
Going Belly Up
Choosing to separate important parts of the day with short, refreshing breaks.
Creating balance with the difficult times in life by savoring enjoyable ones.
Don’t Miss Bliss
– See more at: http://www.bodyawaregrieving.com/injury-reduction-techniques/#sthash.oOLqSY3i.dpuf
Each of us responds to loss and sadness differently, but here are a few Body Aware Grieving tips to consider while supporting a person who is in mourning.
1. It can be difficult to concentrate when emotions are very strong; small decisions and easy tasks take much more energy and focus to accomplish. Encourage them to avoid scheduling too many challenging activities.
2. Their mood may change quickly and repeatedly. Bursts of cheerful behavior may come through during a generally stressful or sorrowful time. Pay attention to shifts in their attitude and try to allow them to ‘lead’ the tone of your visit.
3. Physical senses can become either shut down or overstimulated. Many environments can seem too loud, crowded, bright or fast moving, and it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Stay in locations where you can influence as many factors as possible.
4. A person in grief or shock may not know what type of help to request; their current situation may be very unfamiliar to them. Try to offer examples of specific ways you are willing to contribute (bringing food, driving, babysitting, making phone calls).
5. For a recent death supporters should take over as many responsibilities being “host” as possible (organizing details for transportation, greeting guests, food, facility rental or preparation etc.); this is especially true for funerals and memorials.
6. Be aware of “chatting” too much, because a person in deep grief will have a hard time listening. Even if they have asked about your day or recent news, try to keep your response simple.
7. Silence can be golden; even a few minutes of shared quiet can be very bonding and consoling, especially while in a group. Suggest a period of silence and see if they are attracted to that idea.
8. Not sure what to say? Maybe just put your hand on their shoulder for a few minutes.
10. Trying to “cheer someone up” may not be welcome. If they are allowed to experience their natural sadness for a while, they will likely become ready to smile, laugh and be “upbeat” at their own pace. Many people just need some friends with whom they do not feel pressured to mask their true feelings.
This blog is republished with permission from Bodyawaregrieving.com
Behaving in a way that is different from how we actually feel can be very stressful, both physically and emotionally. Human beings seem to be unique within the animal kingdom regarding how much time we spend masking our true emotions and thoughts. This need to “fake it” can be especially true when we go to work.
Of course for most of us earning money is important, and few people want to add losing their job or faltering within their career to their list of problems. It can be hard to ‘shift gears’ in order to function in a work environment. It can become even more difficult when going through a major illness, or caring for someone who is, dealing with a romantic break-up, or recovering from the death of a loved one.
Here is an example from my own life. Since I am a personal fitness trainer, the ‘persona’ I need to convey is: powerful, athletic, focused and upbeat. Well, those are the last ways a person feels while in the depths of a grief experience. These past years, there were many times I was helping clients while actually feeling really, really sad.
Would anyone pay to see a fitness trainer who sat hunched over during an exercise session and asked, “What is the point? We are all going to die anyway?” Not so much.
Most careers are difficult to do well during troubled times. How about a doctor who needs to tell his patients they have cancer, or whichever other serious ailment, while they themselves or a family member is also sick? Do we want our airline pilots or people driving trucks and buses working when they are upset? Parents often need to console and uplift their children while they themselves are scared or in mourning. How about a therapist or wedding planner who is going through their own divorce? Sometimes it is just a matter of “fake it until you make it.” That is kind of how our economy works. For how long can we pretend, and what are the costs to our well-being?
Physically it is a strain for the body to hold back strong feelings and tears. It becomes difficult to breath deeply as we constrict our throats and clamp the jaw to withhold our honest emotions.
Mentally it can be confusing to try and turn on and off our feelings and thoughts as if they were hot and cold running water.
One of the best healing techniques I have discovered to deal with the circumstance of needing to go to work during a challenging time is something I call: The Transition Ten. “The Transition Ten” means to take at least ten minutes to adjust before and after going into any environment where it is not appropriate to behave as you truly feel.
Find the most quiet and private place available, perhaps in your parked car, or even the rest room. Some people may want to go for a walk around the block to ‘clear their head’. I like to breath slowly and gently while placing the palms of my hands over my eyes to relax the muscles of my face, turn inward for a moment and provide myself with comfort. You can personalize the ritual to best suit your own circumstance.
During the first few minutes of ‘The Transition Ten’ it is best to try and relax as much as possible. Next it is important to realize, “I am about to make a transition from my current mental and emotional state into a different one.” It may be useful to coach oneself a bit, for example thinking: “I realize that I am still upset about (whichever problem…). It is time to go to work now and I need to focus on being skillful. If it is possible to take more breaks than usual I will, otherwise, I just need to get through it.”
It can be helpful to know how to put on a ‘mask’ occasionally in order to function, but it is very important to remember that it is there and needs to be removed. It is great to take at least ten minutes at the end of a work experience to review what happened and congratulate oneself for any part of the day that went well.
Need more examples of people struggling to get through a day at work?
Check out this video of Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters going to their jobs as talk show hosts the day after their close friend Patrick Swayze passed away. They are trying to be ‘professional’ although it is clear that they can barely make it to the end of the show before releasing their deeper reactions to his death. Even Patrick Swayze’s wife of 34 years, Lisa Nieme also a public figure, is smiling and looking beautiful while trying not to cry.
This blog was republished with permission from bodyawaregrieving.com
Emotional pain and physical responses
The most important aspect of Body Aware Grieving compared with other available services related to grief recovery is our focus on physical health. Even when we may not feel we are being affected by stress, sadness or anger, our bodies display symptoms that let us know we are functioning at less than our full capacity.
We are each so unique and different from one another. There is no reason to try and compare one person’s pain to anyone else. While the word “grief” is most commonly used in reference to a death, any reason we may be disappointed or struggling is equally important.
Common signs that we need to take better care of ourselves include: stomach or digestive issues, back or neck pain, fatigue, sleeplessness, muscle tension especially in the jaw and shoulders, dizziness, inability to concentrate, incessant crying, under or over-eating, overuse of medication, drugs or alcohol, getting colds or the flu repeatedly.
Even years after a romantic breakup you may find it hard to stop thinking about the person you love. Other people become overwhelmed when they observe the natural signs of aging happening to their face, body or ability to function. It is common to struggle with low self-esteem, even depression, after losing a job, business or accumulated amount of money. There are even people who envy those of us who are in mourning and wonder if they are ‘normal’ because they don’t seem to care enough about anyone or anything in their life to feel loss.
Physical signs of stress may be subtle, at least at first, or can become more extreme if we choose to ignore them. One of the most vital moments in healing can occur when we realize that we are having a problem that is not passing on it’s own. Perhaps instead of feeling ‘weak’ when we realize we may need help, it can be exciting to explore, “How can I get through my current situation with the least amount of extra suffering?” THAT is a question that can begin to lead us towards becoming healthier and happier.
The source of why we are upset is not specifically important. Regardless of why our emotional or physical health is being diminished, we just want to find ways to console and care for ourselves as easily as possible.
Margo Rose is the creator of Body Aware Grieving, a site that helps people who are going through tough life changes stay safe and well while in transition. Margo Rose grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in a family devoted to the healing arts. She has been a fitness trainer for over nine years with a focus on practical, comfortable, fun exercises. Margo has created a series of wellness techniques designed to help people stay healthy and enjoy their bodies. Margo Rose is currently writing a book: Body Aware Grieving due out soon. Send her an email if you want to be notified when it is available.