Focusing on simple things like sleep, diet and exercise can help when we’re feeling low, but don’t be hard on yourself if this doesn’t always go to plan! Try to listen to what your body needs each day – sometimes this might look like a slow walk in nature and an afternoon in bed, while other days you may want to go for a run or meet up with friends.
Many of us bottle up our feelings or distract ourselves as soon as we feel a bit emotional. But this can lead to issues later down the line. Though it may not feel good at the time, allowing your emotions to come up and be felt will help in the long run. It’s normal and healthy to be a bit of a mess after someone has died! That being said, don’t beat yourself up if you feel numb or sometimes want a distraction – that doesn’t mean you don’t care, your system may just be a bit overwhelmed.
Find some way to express your grief and remember the person who has died. This could be talking – to someone you’re close with, or maybe someone less connected to the situation like a tutor, a counsellor, or in a support group. If you don’t feel comfortable or aren’t sure who to turn to, you could try writing – this could be letters to the person, creative writing, or simply getting jumbled thoughts onto a page. You might also enjoy hearing other people’s stories, as it can put into words how you’re feeling and show that you’re not alone.
Grief can be exhausting. Take one day at a time and listen to your body. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with your normal routine or with what everyone else is doing. Ask for help with practical things like cooking and cleaning if you need to, and don’t be hard on yourself if things seem to be falling apart. Resting gives our bodies space to process our thoughts and emotions. We might want to keep busy and distracted, and while this can be good sometimes, slowing down will help our hearts to heal.
When things are tough, it can be good to get out of your mind and into your body. This could be intense exercise or as gentle as a walk and a stretch. Ask yourself what would feel good in this moment, and do it outside in the fresh air if you can. Movement can calm anxious thoughts and shift difficult emotions, as well as helping us feel more connected to ourselves. If you’re feeling overwhelmed you could start with some yoga – this channel has a range of videos including some focused on different aspects grief.
Connect to things that make you feel good. This might mean being out and about with others, or it might mean walking in nature or spending an evening by yourself. You don’t need to feel guilty for feeling better or enjoying yourself – it doesn’t mean you’re forgetting the person who has died. It’s okay to say no too, if you don’t feel ready or if your understanding of what makes you happy has changed. Many people find that connecting with others who have had similar experiences is particularly helpful.
Looking for further help?
Have a look at our events to see if there’s something we can do to support your journey. We’d also recommend Cruse – a national charity that have lots of resources and a helpline/chat function; and Untangle who offer emotional, legal and practical guidance following a loss. Untangle also have a service where they can match you with a therapist. You might also want to speak to a tutor that you trust or have a look at your university’s wellbeing services.
If you’re in crisis and looking for immediate support, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 any time of day.