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Everyone experiences grief throughout their life, and the longer you spend on great round, the more times you’ll be enveloped by it. Often, a loss can be so painful that it overwhelms you to the point that you aren’t functioning like your usual self. Aside from the mental anguish you feel, grief can cause problems for your physical health – disrupting your sleeping schedule, appetite, and ability to make sound judgements.

Here are some things you can avoid to help you stay as healthy as possible so that you come out on the other side of grief as healthy as possible, and maybe even a little stronger.

1. Busybody

Some people like to throw themselves into work or household projects as a way to deal with their grief. This can be a good way to distract yourself from feeling the pain, but it’s important to remember to treat yourself with kindness. It’s perfectly valid to treat yourself to breakfast in bed, or a middle-of-the-day bubble bath if you want time to focus on yourself.

2. Bottled comfort

The relief of a temporary fix like alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise) is tempting, and often the one people turn to right after (and usually with) loved ones. While numbing the pain can feel like a great option at the time, the effect is only ever going to be temporary. In addition to this, many alcohols and drugs are depressants, so you run the risk of throwing yourself into the arms of even greater pain. Dealing with your emotions head-on is a far healthier way of grieving.

3. Decisions, decisions

Many experts recommend delaying major decisions until six to twelve months after a loss. Allow yourself to experience the range and seasons of your emotions before you commit to something you could regret. Moving house could feel like the right idea at the time, but you could regret it, and sooner than you think. Take your time, and do your best to be sensible. Talk things out with your loved ones, who, assuredly, only want the best for you.

4. Take care

Because of the all-encompassing nature of grief, many people lose their appetite, and can find it difficult to sleep at night. These bodily reactions are understandable and not abnormal. However, try to ensure you maintain your health by eating small meals – even if you’re not hungry – and taking naps whenever you’re tired – even if it’s an odd time to do so.

5. Be mindful of depression

Sometimes grief can slip into clinical depression without anyone noticing. This is understandable, as they can often look very similar, but it’s important to remember that they are not the same thing. The most obvious factor you should be on the lookout for is that grief will naturally lessen over time. If, after a number of weeks or even months, it’s difficult to go on, if carrying out even basic day-to-day behaviours is a burden, if you’re suffocating from a feeling of hopelessness, then you could be experiencing depression. At this stage, you should seek out professional help in the form of counselling.

If you or a loved one are dealing with grief, and need help, seek out an organisation like the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au.

Share your experiences with grief below – tell us how you managed the grieving process.

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