The loss of a loved one can leave you emotionally devastated. Grief tends to carve out a path of destruction and manifests itself in physical ways no one warns you about.
There are many ways that grief can impact you physically, such as feeling sick, experiencing pain, and exhaustion aside from the expected emotional effects. When grief fatigue wears you out, it can destroy you physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Happens If You’re Feeling Grief Fatigue or Burn Out?
- Is There Any Way to Prevent This Feeling?
- Tips for Overcoming Grief Fatigue
Dealing with physical symptoms of grief may require you to learn new skills and techniques to improve your emotional wellbeing. Some shared symptoms of grief fatigue include feeling extremely tired, lethargic, and experiencing brain fog.
When these symptoms hit you all at once, it may seem nearly impossible to deal with your grief. Feeling outright worn out is not uncommon. The tips below can help you get through the most challenging days of your grief journey.
What Happens If You’re Feeling Grief Fatigue or Burn Out?
When you're feeling overwhelmed with grief, it's not uncommon to experience some level of fatigue or lethargy. Physical, psychological, and emotional burnout are all symptoms of grieving. When you're experiencing cumulative grief, for example, you may not quite understand what's going on with your mind and body when it's trying to cope with multiple stressors and losses.
You may already not want to get out of bed, eat, or even interact with others. All of these experiences are related to grief fatigue and burnout. Other physical symptoms you may experience include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightening of the chest
- General aches and pains
- Inability to focus
- Getting sick often
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Is There Any Way to Prevent This Feeling?
Dealing with grief and exhaustion is a normal reaction to dealing with the different types of grief. While there may not be any way to prevent these feelings completely, there are many steps you can take to soothe some of the symptoms and their effects on your mind and body. The pain and loss you are experiencing are physical symptoms of grief and bereavement, and these symptoms of grief can make you physically sick and tired.
There are many cognitive effects of grief. Tiredness and an overall feeling of overwhelm and fatigue are almost always inescapable and are some of the most common grief reactions.
Tips for Overcoming Grief Fatigue
You can learn to survive grief and learn to live again. In time, the intensity of your grief should lessen, and you’ll be better able to manage its symptoms. In the time being, the following ways can help you manage your fatigue so that you can better function throughout each day.
1. Accept that grief fatigue is expected
Grief fatigue is one of the most common grief reactions experienced by many people affected by loss and tragedy every day. Instead of fighting these feelings of tiredness and overwhelm, learn to embrace them as part of your grief journey. Everyone will experience symptoms at different levels, yet not everyone will experience the same effects of grief or at the same time.
Learning to cope with your changed circumstances is naturally exhausting. Give yourself ample time to adjust to your loss and to recoup from its devastating effects on your mind and body.
2. Talk to your friends and family
Reaching out to your friends and family for love, care, and support when needed will help alleviate some of the stress that’s causing your fatigue. Talking about pain and loss is known to have a healing effect on those who are bereaved.
Dispensing your fears, anxieties, pain, and emotions will help ease some of your feelings of overwhelm and loss. In turn, your exhaustion will lead to some levels of relief, allowing you to fall asleep or get the needed rest your mind and body might be craving.
3. Develop a routine
Getting into a daily routine may help you overcome some of the lack of motivation to do anything as you progress through your grief journey. When feeling bereaved, it’s not unusual to want to stay in bed all day, not doing anything. It may seem very tempting to let the days, weeks, and months pass by laying in bed.
However, doing so can take an unhealthy toll on your mind and body in the long run. Grief that goes unacknowledged for weeks and months may lead to other more serious effects such as chronic grief and clinical depression.
Get in the habit of waking up each day and going through your basic hygiene routines of bathing and dressing. Include specific times to eat. Stick to those times and force yourself to eat even a small portion of nutritious food.
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4. Get some exercise
Exercise can seem counterintuitive when you’re feeling unmotivated and physically exhausted from your grief. However, there are plenty of books about grief that can explain the psychology associated with grief and movement. Simply put, the more you move, the more you can start to feel better. And the better you feel, the more you’re able to deal with the profound effects of grief. It’s circular in concept.
However, the positive impact that exercise has on your grief will alleviate your mood and help you experience hope after loss. Simple exercises that get you moving are best in the beginning when you’re too overcome with grief to do anything more. Try starting out by going for a short five to ten-minute walk around the block.
5. Ask for help where needed
Asking for help when grieving is no longer taboo and is a modern way of approaching your grief-related stress and fatigue. Reach out to the people closest to you and give them detailed examples of how they can help you get through this extremely challenging time in your life.
Keep in mind that most people you know and love want to help you. They simply may not know how to. Teach them how to help you by giving them specific tasks or things to do for you.
6. Take short naps
Taking rest breaks throughout the day may help you feel better and re-energized when you’re feeling too tired. Short ten-minute naps will recharge you, especially when you feel like giving up. Focus on sticking to your daily routines as much as possible, but leave room for rest when needed without being hard on yourself. Permit yourself to take a break throughout the day whenever required.
7. Set up a comfortable sleeping environment
One good way of guaranteeing that you get proper sleep is to set up your sleeping environment in a way that makes you feel safe and comfortable. Ensure that everything from the temperature to the lighting is just right and to your liking. If it’s not, make an effort to get up and make those needed adjustments.
It’s easy to let the entire night go by with you struggling in your mind with the temperature being too hot or cold or the light from the window shining in your eyes. It takes minimal effort to adjust things to your perfect liking. Force yourself to do it if you must.
8. Focus on mind and body relaxation
Preparing yourself for rest can include mind and body relaxation techniques such as meditation. Training yourself to release grief-related grief and anxiety can help you overcome some of the fatigue you may be experiencing.
Consider trying a restful walking mediation out in nature. This technique requires you to focus on each step that you take and on the environment surrounding you. Nature can be very healing and should help relax your mind.
Another way to incorporate meditation into your day is to do a resting mediation. This method is best done laying on a flat surface or sitting quietly on the floor or in a chair. Focus on each breath as it goes in and as you release it. Try meditating to some relaxing or spiritual music playing in the background.
9. Use simple tools to help you remember
Everyone has trouble from time to time remembering to do things. When you’re dealing with grief, it is expected that you may have additional memory loss issues that may last from several days to months. Memory loss is a natural part of the grieving process and nothing to be overly concerned with initially.
Grief fatigue adds to your memory loss issues and is typically only a temporary inconvenience. Use simple tools to your advantage, such as taking notes of where you’ve placed things and making lists of things to do.
10. Ask your medical professional for advice
Many people feel that seeking medical or professional help to deal with their grief is shameful. Being afraid to ask for help is an outdated view on mental and emotional health issues. Nowadays, society accepts the need for mental health treatment to help you overcome problems you can't deal with independently.
If you don’t know where to turn for help, ask your primary health care provider for recommendations or do an online search for therapists and counselors experienced in dealing with grief-related matters.
11. Only do what you can
Grief has a way to overwhelm you in many ways. Tasks that seem easy to complete under ordinary circumstances will now feel like a mountain needing climbing. Go easy on yourself and do what you can. A little each day amounts to a lot by the end of the week or month.
Make a mental impression or write a note of your daily successes so that you feel accomplished at the end of the day. Your daily list will encourage you to keep moving forward when you need it most. There’ll be days when you won’t be able to do anything at all, and that’s okay, too.
Dealing With Grief Fatigue and Burnout
Everyone deals with grief in their way. Expect that your experience is different from everyone else's and will require you to find unique ways of getting through that work best for you. The simple steps you put into action now will help you deal more successfully with your grief throughout your healing journey. Take things a little at a time, and focus only on getting through one day at a time.