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Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Coping With Grief and Loss

Grief can take a lot out of you. When you’re facing the loss of a loved one, it’s difficult to find space in your life for your own needs. But in grief, self-care is more important than ever. Caring for your mental and physical health will give you the energy you need to make it through this difficult period in your life and offer an invaluable source of comfort as you navigate your grieving process. In this article, Armourdale Baptist Church explores a few ways to make your health a priority while grieving.

Make Time to Practice Faith

What’s Your Grief explains that grief can be a confusing experience for those who are religious. Often, people mistakenly believe that grief indicates a loss of faith. Faith communities can offer support and comfort during times of grief, especially if you’re not sure how to experience grief while juggling your faith and spirituality. If you’re not finding support in your personal networks, reach out to people with a similar faith background who have experienced loss.

Create a Peaceful Space for Healing

Does your home facilitate healing? If being in your home makes you feel tense or stressed, it might be hard to cope with your grief and make space for healthy habits in your life. Create a peaceful home environment that comforts and nourishes you in this difficult time. Decluttering and reorganizing can help relieve stress. Opening the shades to let natural light into your space can help ease feelings of depression. And bringing nature into your home in the form of potted plants can further improve your mood. Refreshing your home environment can also serve as a valuable mental distraction when you’re learning to cope with a loss.

Take Steps to Relieve Stress

Grief triggers a variety of health-damaging effects, many of which are related to chronic stress. People experience stress in grief for a number of reasons. Stress may result from facing intense emotions, adjusting to a new life, navigating internal conflict, the strain on your interpersonal relationships, or the pressure to move on. Try out some stress management techniques to alleviate stress and help your body heal. For example, if you can recognize your stress triggers, you can take action to manage stress proactively.

Exercise However You Can

Exercising can make the grieving process much easier. Physical activity releases hormones like endorphins and dopamine that help to relieve stress and boost your mood. At the same time, exercising can help you sleep better, think more clearly, engage socially, and gain back some sense of control over your life.

Of course, finding the motivation to exercise in grief can be tough. Livestrong.com suggests going easy on yourself and committing to just 5 or 10 minutes of movement, like a morning walk around the block. Importantly, keep your expectations realistic. Exercise won’t completely dissolve your grief, but it can definitely help!

Make a Plan to Manage Insomnia

During grief, it’s not uncommon to feel tired all day but have trouble falling asleep at night. Sleep deprivation will only worsen your experience of grief and make it harder to cope with difficult emotions. Look for ways to combat sleeplessness. For example, you can try sticking to a consistent bedtime or exposing yourself to morning sunlight. These tricks work to regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle. A calming bedtime routine can further encourage relaxation in the evenings and help clear the mind before sleep.

The loss of a loved one is well known as life’s most stressful event. All this stress can be traumatic for your body as well as your brain, so it’s important to maintain healthy habits as much as possible. Get outside, go for a walk, and connect with members of your local church. These seemingly small actions can have a significant effect on your well-being.

Are you looking for a church in Kansas City? Join us at Armourdale Baptist Church! Contact us to learn more or make an appointment with the pastor. Call 913-371-6476

Thank you to Camille Johnson, bereaver.com, for this article.

Seniors, Going to Church Can Actually Make You Healthier, Live Longer and Feel Better

Going to church provides more than a purely religious experience. Numerous studies and reports indicate that for seniors, regular church attendance actually improves physical and mental health. It can sharpen focus, provide a support system and combat depression that is common with old age. In many ways, regular church attendance can help seniors feel better and live longer.

How is Church Healthy?

Research shows that those who go to church receive many benefits. People who attend church regularly become members of a community. Church provides opportunities to socialize, and it offers help for members who are ill, depressed, financially struggling or feeling physically weak. Those who attend services tend to feel less lonely, and get the emotional support they need. Being a member of the group can also help older adults feel a sense of purpose. All of this helps treat depression, which can be detrimental to both physical and mental health.

Depression affects a large number of aging and elderly people, which can lead to isolation, substance abuse and poor health. Going to regular services, however, can combat these symptoms and prevent depression in older people. Church offers structure; it gives older people something to do and something to look forward to on a regular basis.

Living Longer

Multiple studies regarding religious service attendance show that those who go to church regularly are physically healthier, but that’s not all. Evidence suggests that regular attendance can actually help people live longer. One 10-year study looked at data on almost 75,000 women, and found that regular churchgoers had lower risk of death than those who did not attend services, either regularly or semi-regularly.

Opportunities for Physical Activity

Many churches offer senior activities that are specific to getting regular exercise, whether it’s through indoor walking groups, church-hosted classes for aerobics or yoga or other types of recreation. And in addition to the social aspect, having the opportunity to enjoy fitness through community can lead to more accountability for seniors who need to be more active.

Mental Health

According to the National Institutes of Health, going to regular religious services leads to better mental health among older people. Findings from the Religion, Aging, and Health Survey, conducted in 2001 and 2004, show that both men and women who attend these services have better mental health than those who do not. The survey focused specifically on Americans aged 66 to 95, and the data shows much higher levels of mental health and stability among regular attendees, compared to those who did not go to services regularly or at all.

Mindfulness for Seniors

Yoga, meditation and similar exercises are commonly thought of as being only for the young, but more churches, nursing homes and elder care services are turning to mindfulness to help seniors become physically and mentally healthier. Seniors can practice the mental focus, deep breathing and light stretching association with mindfulness to reap the benefits. Light stretching exercises help keep muscles flexible and strong, and deep breathing can keep the entire respiratory system healthier and breathing muscles stronger. Meditation, which teaches focus, helps seniors take their minds away from aches and pains, worries and sad thoughts.

Be Mindful of Going to Church

Mindfulness teaches people to be present, which can improve mental clarity and keeps them rooted in the here and now. Seniors tend to think about the past, and some want to live in the past. But this isn’t possible. Mindfulness reminds aging people to pay attention to the right now, and church keeps them rooted in the moment and in the world around them, all of which can lead to a healthier, happier and fuller life.

Thank you to Jason Lewis, strongwell.org, for this article.