Sleep in our life is generally not focused on, yet its one of the most powerful, natural healers we have within us. In times of grief, sleep is even more integral in healing the body than any other times, yet can often be the hardest thing to do.
Grief is all encompassing, it takes over every cell in our body, leaving us depleted, anxious, and overwhelmed. When I came back from the maternity hospital I had spent two days in, I was completely lost, confused, and exhausted, more emotionally than physically, and that can be the worst kind of exhaustion, because the mind is so full and over worked, yet the body is on edge, hyper sensitive, and full of grief.
Sleep for me was a place I eventually went to when my body just gave up in the evenings, I would eventually fall into a sleep of confusion only to wake some hours later, in total emptiness for those first few minutes I had ‘forgotten’ my grief only to be flooded back with it some minutes into my wake, this was a pattern I had fallen into, I became asleep when awake and awake when asleep. Totally all over the place. Little did I know this was normal.
Sleep is needed for the body’s repair, without sleep we cannot recalibrate our body or our minds, we cannot re-charge, and our body’s homeostasis is out of balance. In grief our body holds the experiences of our grief deep in our cells, we are restless, unsettled, tired most of the time, yet awake for hours during the night, when our brain is in “chimp’ mode and overactive with thoughts of immense sadness.
What can we do to help ourselves, NOT ‘get over’ our grief, NOT ‘forget’ about it for a short time, but to move through our grief, feel it, allow it to be there, allow ourselves to feel sad.
- Water, drink a lot of water in the day, clean fresh water – 2 litres minimum – stay away from soft/fizzy drinks.
- Get up, in the mornings when we want to stay in bed and hide under the covers, get up, shower and get dressed, be part of the day, try not to hide away from it, it will not make us feel better, only worse sadly.
- Call a friend and go for a walk, take those runners out of the closet, move the body even slightly, even if it means to the end of the road and back.
- Build up your distances, small walks daily, build them up gradually, try to walk every day even if it is cold or rainy.
- Nature, be in nature, nature is a healer, it will not cure or save you, it will be with you in you times of grief, walk in the trees, in the parks, near the rivers.
- Go to the beach, and walk by the sea, the sea is a powerful element in all weather.
- Take off your shoes and walk in the sea.
- Less coffee/tea and more herbal tea
- Warm baths before bed
- Eat well, stay away from take aways, processed foods, high fats, high salts and high sugar foods, these are depressants and will bring down our moods.
- Eat fresh, lots of green vegetables, fresh fruit, and lean meats, and fish
- Speak to someone who understands, there is support out there with the likes of Feileacain, who are there to listen, and support you in times where it feels like nobody understands your grief and loss
- Find the friend that will sit and listen, not judge, listen
- Breathe, take time to breathe, learn to breathe, 2 minutes a day and build on it
- Have small measurable goals, small steps to wellness is what it takes, we cannot do it all, be kind to yourself.
Sleep is about quality not quantity, being kind to yourself, and allowing the grief, instead of pushing it away, if we push it away it goes ‘somewhere’ and comes back out time and time again.