The Mail on Sunday - You - - Well Being -

will have been im­pacted by the death of the per­son we love. We know from neu­ro­science that ev­ery thought has a phys­i­o­log­i­cal com­po­nent that is felt in the body. The pain of grief is of­ten ex­pe­ri­enced in much the same way as fear and tips our body into a height­ened state of alert. We need to es­tab­lish a regime that helps to reg­u­late the body. The more ha­bit­ual the ac­tion, the more ef­fec­tive it is. The regime should in­clude: Car­dio­vas­cu­lar ex­er­cise, which helps to ease the feel­ing of fear. Re­lax­ation or med­i­ta­tion, which helps to man­age our anx­i­ety. Eat­ing reg­u­larly, without great spikes of sugar, cof­fee or al­co­hol, which cause the body to peak and then crash. When we ex­pe­ri­ence a life-chang­ing loss, it is likely to af­fect our per­for­mance at work and our re­ac­tions in a so­cial con­text. It is im­por­tant to recog­nise the power of say­ing ‘no’. Para­dox­i­cally this en­hances the power of ‘yes’, for when we say ‘no’ our sub­se­quent ‘yes’ is in­fin­itely more pos­i­tive. Friends and family can get bossy when we are griev­ing and are keen for us to get back into the swing of life, but no­body else can know what our lim­its are. It is up to us to pay at­ten­tion to them and voice them clearly. In the chaos of grief we can feel as if our world has tilted off its axis. It can help to build a pil­lar of struc­ture (with some flex­i­bil­ity built into it, for too much con­trol can be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive). De­velop a struc­ture of good habits: Ex­er­cise first thing. Do some work or chores. Take time to re­mem­ber the per­son who has died. Choose to do some­thing calm­ing such as buy­ing flow­ers, hav­ing a mas­sage, cook­ing nice food or lis­ten­ing to mu­sic. Have reg­u­lar times for sleep. De­vel­op­ing a struc­ture of good habits has a mul­ti­ply­ing ef­fect: the more we do them, the bet­ter we feel. It takes six weeks for a prac­tice to be­come ha­bit­ual. Peo­ple of­ten talk about grief as ‘a knot’ in their stom­ach. Some­times their arms, legs or head feel heavy. When there are no words for these bod­ily sen­sa­tions, fo­cus­ing is a way of find­ing them. Direct your at­ten­tion in­ter­nally and breathe into – fo­cus – on this ‘felt sense’. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply, three times. Direct your at­ten­tion to the place where there is the most sen­sa­tion. Find a word that de­scribes that place – does it have a shape, a colour? Is it hard, soft? If the im­age could speak, what would it say? Then fol­low where the im­age takes you.

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