Over the past week, I’ve experienced a big loss in my family. My mom’s dad, my grandpa, passed away last Tuesday due to a very sudden and unexpected heart attack.
Luckily, the professor I work for is understanding and was kind enough to let me know that if I needed time off to travel or try to see my family, I was welcome to take it. However, this wasn’t really an option, being that most of that side of my family lives so far away and getting their would be too expensive, even if I took an extended amount of time off.
As I went through (and am going through) the grieving process independently at school, I’ve realized it’s easier to maintain my work life while I’m grieving than it is to maintain my personal life. It’s easy to go class and work and just do what I always do, or what I have to do. It’s easy because I have obligations to other people to fulfill, and that distracts me. But when it comes to my personal life, I’m only responsible for myself.
This has forced me to ask myself: what is my baseline? What basic level of maintaining my routine can I do, even while I’m going through something tragic, that keeps me functioning enough to do things like going to school and work?
So, this is what I believe is the best baseline. It might be different for other people, it might vary a lot. But this is what I’ve found works, in case you’re going through a tough time too or if you’re just starting to want to invest energy into yourself in a way that I try to encourage in this blog. This is the baseline.
Eating is hard when you’re sad, it’s like there’s constantly a knot in your stomach. So trying to eat healthy is tricky when you’re dealing with a big sad lump in your stomach day-in and day-out. And when you can’t find a ton of motivation to cook for yourself.
So, I ate out a lot the first few days. I did still try to keep it on the healthier side of things, I avoided total comfort foods or emotional eating, but I was more forgiving with myself when I would eat things that are generally out-of-character for me. Some quick easy out-options I found that were easier to eat when I was sad were things like Chipotle, Subway, and anywhere that sells smoothies or acid bowls. Really anything basic with some freshness to it was what I looked for.
Sometimes I would get hungry in waves, so I also tried my best to have lots of snacks around the house that were healthy options. Macintosh apples, KIND granola, and chocolate chips are some of my favorite. I also went through a few days where the only snack I wanted were peanut butter pretzels, H. K. Anderson‘s are my personal favorite.
As far as trying to get enough sleep through this challenging time, I found that focusing on my routine before bed really helped me get the most out of my nights (even the hard ones).
I also found that making myself feel very enveloped in my blankets on my bed helped in getting myself to fall asleep faster at night. Similar to the way that people swaddle babies, kind of swaddling myself seemed to help me in the same way it helps babies: it made me feel safe and warm and less alone. It helps babies sleep better too, and it definitely helped me feel better.
This is one that will vary a lot depending on what type of lifestyle you live generally. I like to workout every day, and weirdly I couldn’t stop working out entirely even when I was very sad. I needed the movement and again the routine to keep my mind occupied at least a little so I wasn’t just sad.
I will admit, however, that I took it down a little. Instead of going hard everyday, I had one or two days I just couldn’t make it, and thats okay too. Going too hard when you work out, especially if your body and mind are going through things separately is not always the best idea. You can overexert yourself and end up in a worse way than when you started.
In my beauty routine, it quickly became more about care than about anything else. While I couldn’t find much motivation to put on eyeliner or mascara, I tried to make sure I was still using my mineral foundation (bareMinerals all the way!) to keep my skin feeling soft and from getting oily throughout the day.
I also tried to keep up with using my face wash and toner at night, and this little product was enough to keep my skin happy for a few days. So while a full face of makeup might not be your cup of tea while you’re dealing with some kind of grief, it’s important to keep your skin feeling good so YOU can feel good in your body.