During times of stress or loss we can be at increased risk for injuries and setbacks. One goal of Body Aware Grieving is to avoid creating new problems while we learn to recover from any current difficulties. [Read more…]
There are times in life when we are rushing around, busy in our “roles” as employee, caregiver or partner. During magic moments, there can be a complete peace when we are able to express our whole “real” self.
A while ago I hired a professional photographer to take pictures of me for a variety of projects I was working on. The studio lights and costume changes were all new to me and I was excited and nervous. Here is a slide show of images from that day:
I was hoping to do a “good” job and be expressive. Honestly though, the photo shoot was during a sad time in my life as the first memorial for my little sister who had passed away was approaching. My father as well had died just two years before.
As photos were being taken in various poses and outfits, there was one special moment when I sort of slid into a seated position and was overwhelmed by a feeling of connection and love for my father.
That picture, taken when I had a completely open heart, ended up becoming the primary image of me for our Body Aware Grieving website. If you look very closely at the teardrop we use as our logo, there is even a reflection of this photo above the eye.
One day while looking at our website, I noticed the pose I was in and ran to find a photo my father took of me when I was five years old. Always one of my Dad’s favorite pictures, he took this while I played in a sunny cave during a day at the beach. Realizing the similarity, I now keep the two photos next to each other on my wall. It helps me think of the past, present and future all at the same time.
A sense of calm and joy is possible when we are able to balance who we have become so far in life, and who we want to become as we move forward. My hope is that Body Aware Grieving can become a place of healing and celebration for each of us. This post is dedicated to all of us and the people, places, pets and passions that help us feel like our most “real” version of ourselves.
Now, it it your turn…Can you share a picture, painting, song or video that expresses how you feel and what you most care about?
Many best wishes,
Special gratitude to my father Kenneth for being such an inspiration.
The most important aspect of Body Aware Grieving compared with other available services related to grief recovery is our focus on physical health. Even when we may not feel we are being affected by stress, sadness or anger, our bodies display symptoms that let us know we are functioning at less than our full capacity.
We are each so unique and different from one another. There is no reason to try and compare one person’s pain to anyone else. While the word “grief” is most commonly used in reference to a death, any reason we may be disappointed or struggling is equally important.
Common signs that we need to take better care of ourselves include: stomach or digestive issues, back or neck pain, fatigue, sleeplessness, muscle tension especially in the jaw and shoulders, dizziness, inability to concentrate, incessant crying, under or over-eating, overuse of medication, drugs or alcohol, getting colds or the flu repeatedly.
Even years after a romantic breakup you may find it hard to stop thinking about the person you love. Other people become overwhelmed when they observe the natural signs of aging happening to their face, body or ability to function. It is common to struggle with low self-esteem, even depression, after losing a job, business or accumulated amount of money. There are even people who envy those of us who are in mourning and wonder if they are ‘normal’ because they don’t seem to care enough about anyone or anything in their life to feel loss.
Physical signs of stress may be subtle, at least at first, or can become more extreme if we choose to ignore them. One of the most vital moments in healing can occur when we realize that we are having a problem that is not passing on it’s own. Perhaps instead of feeling ‘weak’ when we realize we may need help, it can be exciting to explore, “How can I get through my current situation with the least amount of extra suffering?” THAT is a question that can begin to lead us towards becoming healthier and happier.
The source of why we are upset is not specifically important. Regardless of why our emotional or physical health is being diminished, we just want to find ways to console and care for ourselves as easily as possible. If you or someone you care about is going through a challenging time, please go to the Healing Techniques section in our sidebar for a choice of wellness activities.
Best wishes to you,
photo © Adam Weiss email@example.com
First, it is important to have some perspective. Feeling ‘down’ for whatever reason during the winter months can seem very personal, yet there are reasons why so many people are struggling at the same time. Expectations during the “holiday season” can be sky high in many categories which can lead to suffering in various ways.
People who are out of work and/or tight on money may have felt pressured to buy gifts and take vacations during Christmas, perhaps going more deeply into debt. The strong focus on “family time” during “the holidays” is challenging to folks who are already lonely or are missing someone they care about who has passed away.
To “single” people, it can feel like they are surrounded by couples and families, with no one to kiss as is the tradition on New Year’s Eve…and Valentine’s Day right around the corner. It is also common to eat and drink too much from October to December, and January is a typical time for experiencing regret, low energy and often more colds and illnesses. “Happy New Year” indeed…it can be hard to make that happen sometimes. Regardless of why you are having a tougher time during the winter months the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.
If stress over money issues has you wound up or feeling down, it can be comforting to realize that most of the individuals in the world are having concerns about their finances. Even our governments are all complaining about paying their bills, and they get to collect taxes! If you look from a historical and global perspective, the majority of people in the history of humankind have worried about sustaining their basic necessities.
It is interesting to learn more from some of the countries and cultures that have the least amounts of ‘financial ‘security’. It can seem like the poorest people often have the best festivals, music and celebration, along with close families and friendships. Perhaps they have learned better to get by with the resources at hand and define their sense of self-worth on more aspects of their lives than current earning power.
If part of your struggle right now is a feeling of being lonely, this is a good time to find a community to be closer with. It is possible to find like-minded people to connect with based on your religious beliefs, hobbies, political beliefs, the arts or other topic you are passionate about. In the meanwhile, it is important to take care of your needs for physical touch and social contact. There are a range of other specific suggestions in a previous post from Body Aware Grieving titled Romantic Longing and Healing Touch.
Another common source of winter blues is anger with oneself for having eaten more than necessary during the holidays while being less focused on fitness than ideal. Here again, there are plenty of other people feeling the same way. It is natural to be less active when the days are colder and nights are longer. The urge to hibernate and put on a few extra pounds of a ‘winter coat’ is part of nature. Heck, I am a personal fitness trainer and even I just want to be cozy with some snacks and videos when it is rainy!
Being mad at oneself or embarrassed about feeling heavy or unfit usually is not productive. If possible just relax, be kind to yourself and very gently begin some type of physical care and activity. Try to get started slowly and with a loving attitude. When having a “workout” seems overwhelming, maybe a social activity that includes some movement like bowling, playing pool or walking to a friend’s house is appealing to you.
Some of the main advice I give my fitness clients is:
A) Find or buy clothes that are comfortable and help you feel attractive at your current weight.
B) Start any form of exercise very carefully so you do not get injured or run-down and sick. Just do “more than before”. Cheer even the small victories you achieve.
C) Include as many forms of physical pleasure as possible like: hot baths, massages, stretching, look at uplifting visual images like nature, animals or whatever you prefer and wear sensual fabrics that are silky, cozy and fun to have near your skin.
These are just examples, the main point I am making is that accepting and enjoying your current body can be an effective way to encourage even more healthy choices in food and movement. Overall just take life improvements one at a time with as much gentleness as possible. Even if you do not have as much money, romance or pride in your health as you prefer right now, remember that we are all just trying to survive and thrive each day.
Need more help staying happy? Try making a Healthy Pleasures list for yourself as described here.
No time to read, listen below to this article instead.
Most of us are so busy trying to earn money or doing chores that we don’t leave time for play, relaxation or mourning when necessary. Does that mean we actually work all the time? Probably not.
What does it mean to be productive? How often are you at work but find yourself checking your friends status updates on Facebook? Do you find yourself feeling sad or even crying in the car sometimes? On the weekend, do you tell yourself to re-organize the closets, yet choose to take a nap or watch a football game instead?
Many of us get frustrated when it seems like time just slips away and we are not being productive. One way to increase our sense of accomplishment each day is to understand where the hours are going. We can also give ourselves credit for succeeding at other goals beyond just earning money or keeping the house clean.
Let’s put each choice we make per day in one of the following categories:
Relaxation–Watching movies, extra sleep, reading a book or checking out favorite websites
Play–Visiting with friends, enjoying a hobby, creating or appreciating art and music
Work and Chores–Earning money, contributing within our family or community, daily tasks like cooking and cleaning
Commemoration–Honoring loved ones who have passed away, grieving any disappointments in our lives
Unexpected tasks–Traffic jams, dealing with technological problems or helping a friend in crisis
The examples listed above are just suggestions. Of course each person’s idea of what constitutes play, work, relaxation or commemoration varies based on their personality and circumstances. Your list will be customized to the details and desires that are specific to you.
Let’s go back to the examples at the beginning of this article. We talked about a person who was checking Facebook at their job. A failure by work standards perhaps, an achievement in their play category. If they allow themselves time to indulge their nature desire to have fun more often, they may find it easier to concentrate at their job when necessary.
Someone who is sad or crying is likely grieving a loss, an important part of regaining their strength. A better idea would be for them to stop driving, for even a few minutes, and allow the profound feelings they are having to pass. As for the person who wanted to nap instead of clean out the closets, at least they succeeded at relaxation! Maybe they will be rested enough to organize the closet or do other chores afterward or on a different day.
Perhaps the problem is not how we are spending our time, so long as we realize which goal we are succeeding at for each activity. Instead of being disappointed with ourselves so often let’s realize that relaxation, play, productivity, and for many of us, grieving or commemoration are all vital to our well being. As well, we need to understand that unexpected tasks and challenges are a part of life and need to be accommodated within our schedules.
Since I am a fitness trainer, I need to throw in an extra question. What category is exercise to YOU: Work, Play, Relaxation, Commemoration or an Unexpected Task? Do you agree or disagree with these ideas? Would love to hear your opinions or questions in the comments section below!
Best wishes to you,