For the past 6 months I have been going through a hard time and I want to share some self-care methods I have adopted to help me. I ended a long-term relationship that I deeply wanted to last but that was clearly detrimental to me. Why would I want that to last, you might ask? Well even though it was emotionally abusive, it was a very close and connected union, and I loved him with all my heart. As they say, Love is Blind, and I was always hopeful but one day I knew I had to end it.
Get Help If You Need It
I was shocked that as a month or 2 went by, I didn’t feel like I was getting any better. The depression was overwhelming. That brings me to the most important thing I did to aid in my recovery. I got help and found someone I could talk to. Find a friend or family member you can talk to or find a therapist or group counseling. In counseling I learned that this was grief, a natural response to losing someone or something that is important to you. I always associated grieving with a death but it can be for any kind of loss such as a break-up, selling of a childhood home, loss of a pet, loss of a job, a divorce, or loving someone who is self-destructive. There is no right way or wrong way to go through it, as everyone is different. I also learned that there is no time limit on grieving.
Give Yourself Time
That is very important so let me say it again. There is no time limit on grieving. It will take as long as it takes so don’t pressure yourself on getting past it in a certain amount of time. It is okay to take as long as you need. I felt pressured to “get over it” and not burden my family or friends with my sadness anymore. This made me feel isolated, alone and abnormal until I gave myself a break and allowed myself time to deal with the loss. Sometimes we never get over grief but the important thing is that we are able to move forward in our lives and enjoy them.
Cry and Let It Out
You should know it is okay to have negative feelings. At first I was hurt so deeply that I would not allow myself to feel the pain. I was afraid I would not be able to endure it. I tried to deny my feelings. I kept busy with work, went out, did anything I could to not acknowledge them but to heal you have to face your feelings. So I took little pieces of time and let myself feel the pain and cry my eyes out. At first I could only handle little bits at a time and then I would have to numb myself again with TV, alcohol, food or work but as time went on I got better at letting myself feel the feelings and sort through them.
Aromatherapy and Meditation
Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic substances, mainly essential oils, to promote health to mind, body and spirit. It works by stimulating receptors in your nose that send messages to the limbic system. That is the part of your brain that controls emotion. I made a special essential oil blend, Empower, to help me when I was feeling bad, letting myself feel the pain or meditating. I would put a few drops in my bath water, diffuser, in an aromatherapy locket, or just on me. I chose essential oils that could help heal my heart of pain and anger, give me strength and courage to keep going, uplift my spirits, and calm my anxiety and fear. Empower helped me meditate and focus on more positive thoughts and feelings. Meditation is good to practice in everyday life but especially helpful while grieving. It helped me quiet all the rampant thoughts in my mind and get to some of the deeper truths that I needed to deal with. It also lowers blood pressure, stress hormones, helps strengthen your immune system, and enhances the part of your brain that produces positive emotions.
Friends and Family
I know you probably won’t feel like it but spend time with friends and family. I have wonderful friends and family that listened to me when I needed to talk. They invited me places providing an escape from the loneliness. They are there for support when you need it most and being around them, even when I really just wanted to sit at home, helped to keep me from feeling more isolated and alone. So even if you have to force yourself, spend time with those you love because they love you too and you need to feel that.
Take Care Of Yourself
I also tried to exercise. I would go for walks, use my treadmill, or do this 7 – minute workout that I downloaded on my phone. Use your body’s natural comfort system by producing some endorphins. I tried to eat right, although I must admit I didn’t always do so great with that. I’m one to self-medicate with hot wings, fried foods, or candy but I really made an effort to allow myself a little and resist the binge. Gaining more weight and not feeling healthy wouldn’t have made me feel good about myself. Exercising and eating right makes you feel healthier and happier. I also gave up coffee, which made it easier to sleep at night. Getting more sleep when you are going through an emotional time is hard but so good for you. It helps you process your emotions but gives you a break from them as well.
You know how they say laughter is the best medicine? Well it is good for you because it stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles. It also increases endorphins and can have a positive effect on your immune system. I used it a lot. I watched funny movies and television shows as much as I could to lift my spirits and have some happiness in my life.
Focus On Others
When you are grieving so much of your attention is on how you are feeling. If you move some of that attention to helping others the rewards are great. Firstly you forget your troubles for a while and then there is the added benefit of feeling good about yourself and being part of something positive. Helping others can be something as small as letting another driver in when you’re in a traffic jam or holding a door open for someone. While meditating one day the idea came to me to create Empower soap and essential oil blend to help others who may be going through a difficult time in their lives and help raise money for the Community Crisis Center in Elgin, IL. They helped me with counseling and serve individuals & families affected by domestic violence, emotional abuse, sexual assault, and homelessness. Their services include a 24-hour hotline, a shelter for 40 women and children, individual and group counseling, financial assistance to prevent homelessness, partner abuse intervention, and advocacy through the legal, medical and social welfare systems. I will be donating $2 from every Empower item sold to the Center. You can read more about it here.
Being grateful creates positive emotions and leads to a happier, healthier life. I purchased a gratitude journal to help me be mindful of things to be grateful for. When you are grieving it may be hard to think of these things and write them down everyday. That is why I purchased a journal that has prompts and inspirational sayings to get me thinking more positively. The more positive emotions you feel, the more you send out into the world thereby attracting more to you. That’s an awesome benefit for just a couple of minutes a day.
Getting through painful life experiences is not easy but it is possible. Know that you will have good days and bad days. Even when you think you are healed and done grieving moments can arise that take you right back into it. Things such as holidays, birthdays, a song, or seeing the person you separated from can bring up feelings again so acknowledge them and then let them go. Just remember to be kind to yourself because you are the greatest comfort and most powerful healing you can have.
Please share this post so that it can reach others who may be struggling right now and can use some help. You might not even know that someone is struggling because women are good at hiding it.