The weather is increasingly warmer and many turn their minds towards summer plans. It can be a difficult season as individuals and families recognize ways their schedules and activities have changed after their special person died. Absent loved ones from graduations, family vacations and cookouts can bring on deep missing and grief triggers. Grievers often speak about the delicate balance of wanting to participate in social events and happiness about successful life transitions versus the absence of the deceased and trying to process their grief.
Summer brings more daylight hours, invitations to social outings and days packed with various duties. This can be a time to lean into healthy ways to take care of physical manifestations in your grief. For example, it’s often difficult to find the motivation to take a hike in colder months but a beautiful summer day can encourage time in nature. Getting out for fresh air and sunlight has been proven to boost mood and regulate body functions.
The majority of individuals identify grief as an emotional process, looking over the holistic way in which grief impacts the person. Physical effects of grief are just one of a myriad of ways grievers lives can be changed. Gastrointestinal issues, hair loss, and lack of energy are examples of how grief can affect the body. Some dually work through grief’s influence on body and mind, like anxiety causing panic attacks. It’s always a good time to speak with your physician if you are noticing changes in your body that may be related to grief.
In grief, preserving and being mindful of how your physical energy is spent is a key to feeling that you have the bandwidth for other aspects of your life. Take time to practice good sleep hygiene daily and give your brain and body time to recover from hustle and bustle. Making concrete plans to find rest throughout the day and periods of rest throughout the year can be a much-needed restoration for the body. Drinking water and eating nutritious foods are parts of supplying yourself with the right fuel.
Paying attention to physical signs of grief is just as important as an emotional grief burst. As the rest of the year brings up opportunities to complete tasks and work on unfinished goals, take a moment to check-in with your body and perhaps renew healthy objectives set at the start of the year. It’s never too late to get resting if tired, get moving if stationary or get mindful if you’ve never focused on the physical impact of grief.
Wishing you a healthy summer and beyond.
Rashida Sanchez, MA, LMSW, FT