Physical Health after Bereavement

When we are in a state of emotional turmoil it is very easy to neglect our physical health. However, this is probably the time when you should be looking after yourself very carefully. Under stress it is easy to comfort eat, drink more alcohol, smoke more cigarettes or take drugs. When you are unusually stressed you can start to feel physically unwell.

Common reactions to depression or stress are to change your normal patterns – you may eat and sleep more or less and experience other physical symptoms.

Being physically fit leads to generally higher energy levels and feelings of mental well-being. A few simple changes can assist in maintaining your physical health.

  • If you find you have spare time on your hands then try to use it productively instead of collapsing in front of the television. You can find cheap and effective exercise methods from walking around your local area to getting an off peak gym membership which will get you out of the house, improve your physical health and increase your social interaction.
  • Try to maintain healthy eating habits. It is easy to feel there is no point in making the effort to cook if you have lost your partner. Ditch the convenience food and really notice what you are putting into your body.
  • When you are feeling miserable try not to use crutches such as alcohol and drugs. If you do want to have a drink then limit the amount you are having or set yourself days when you won’t drink.
  • Try out complementary health therapies. These can be used to treat the physical symptoms of stress or offer general remedies that increase feelings of well being. They include aromatherapy, reflexology, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massage, reiki, shiatsu and yoga. For more information and ideas try the Complementary Health Information Service.

It is important to consider your physical and mental well-being during and following any bereavement as this will ensure you are in the best possible shape to cope with the stresses and changes you will encounter. You can find more information on physical health on the BBC website and on iVillage.