5 Natural Remedies For Grief

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If you have experienced a loss in your life recently, whether it’s the death of a family member, a divorce, or even a breakup, you know how deeply it can impact every aspect of your physical and emotional well-being. I have been traveling a bit of a rough road myself lately, and I have found that these five tips can help healing in a natural way.

Here are 5 natural remedies for grief.

Sleep

Female sleepingThis one comes first for a reason – when you’re not sleeping, everything else becomes exponentially harder. Emotions are more raw and ride closer to the surface, physical health suffers, and your mind obsessively ruminates. Unfortunately, during times of loss it’s very common to struggle with sleep – you may find yourself sleeping too much, having trouble falling asleep, or not sleeping at all.

To help combat these issues, take some steps to address what experts refer to as your sleep hygiene. This means paying attention to the rituals around, and circumstances of, your bedtime routine.  Dim the lights and limit exposure to electronics for an hour or two before bedtime, and make sure you use your bed only for sleeping, and other, erm, bedroom activities. This means no dragging the laptop between the sheets to catch up on work (as I am doing right now. Ahem.)

Try drinking calming tea blends with chamomile, valerian root or skullcap to help you wind down before bed. Having a warm bath and doing a self-massage with coconut or sesame oil can also promote physical relaxation.

If the problem persists there is absolutely no shame in visiting a family doctor and discussing other options to help you get through the worst of it, (the goal here is survival, by any means necessary) but these natural approaches offer a great place to begin tackling the sleep issue.

Nourishing Food

You will need as much energy as you can to face the months and weeks ahead, and what you eat will be the most important source of this fuel. But, when you find yourself in the depths of deep grief appetite changes can wreak havoc with your physical well-being.

soup

Home-grown soup with tomato, basil, shiitake mushrooms, Star of David okra, lettuce and celery. Image courtesy of Joi Ito.

You may find yourself overindulging in unhealthy comfort foods, or feeling like you are unable to eat at all. Don’t heap more guilt on yourself for not cooking organically-sourced three course meals every day, but do try to take a conscious attitude toward the food that you put into your body and know that it has an incredible effect on how strong you feel physically.

If you have loved ones helping you through your grief, ask them to temporarily take over cooking duties – they will be grateful to have such a tangible way to help you through this loss. Stock your pantry with foods that are nourishing and easy to prepare. Try organic soups and chillis, raw veggie wraps, trail mix blends filled with nuts and seeds, and pre-made smoothie drinks brimming with fruits, vegetables, and protein (sometimes drinks you can sip on throughout the day are easier to get down).

Go for a walk

I know, I know. You’re wearing the same sweatpants you’ve worn for three days straight, you’re curled up in the fetal position on your bed and you never, ever, want to leave.  Your grief and sadness needs to be acknowledged, and letting yourself lie with it for a while is completely reasonable. Lie with that feeling, stay in bed in your sweat-panted fetal-positioned glory for 23 hours a day if you like. But for that other hour, try to get outside.

You don’t even need to change – now is not the time to worry about appearances- just grab your keys and head out the door. Try and aim yourself in a direction with some nature to it – forests, rivers, even an outdoor fountain will do in a pinch. The idea is to get your body moving, your blood circulating, and stimulate the feeling of forward momentum. Just for an hour, OK? I promise it will help.

sunnypark

Try and aim yourself in a direction with some nature to it – forests, rivers, even an outdoor fountain will do in a pinch. Image courtesy of Christian.

Water, in any form. Lots of it.

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. -Isak Dinesen

Dinesen speaks the truth, my friends. Working up a bit of a glow on a walk, sitting with a friend and crying so hard you think you’ll never stop, and steeping yourself in a scalding hot bath – for ages these have been indisputable remedies to help you forge forward when you feel you’ve been broken.  Not everyone has access to the sea, of course, but a hot bath is just as good, and the addition of Epsom Salts means that magnesium will be absorbed through the skin. Magnesium is a key component in regulating mood, relaxing tense muscle, and easing symptoms of depression, so adding a heaping cup or two of Epsom salts to your bath means the healing benefits of a soak stretch far beyond mental relaxation.

Physical touch

Research has demonstrated an indisputable link between the presence of non-sexual physical touch and our physical and emotional well-being. According to Matthew Hertenstein, PhD, director of the Touch and Emotion Lab at DePauw University, “Stimulating touch receptors under the skin can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, effectively reducing stress.”

So go in for that hug, cuddle your kids, book a massage, or call your pet close – touching and being touched is an essential human need that goes ignored too often in our politely reserved Western culture. Especially if you have lost a partner, replacing physical touch will be essential as you begin your journey to feeling healed and whole.

Feature image courtesy of Renatvs88

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Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.