Another new year is underway—a time when people make resolutions to lose weight, get more exercise, finish projects, start something new, etc. It is well known that even though the year starts with good intentions, resolutions often don’t last more than a month or so. And so, when the next new year rolls around, the resolutions are the same.
For those who are grieving a loss – death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job/home/income, strained family relationships, loss of independence—there may be no motivation to even make any new year resolutions. After all, the new year doesn’t change your situation and so what is the point? The date on the calendar does not change the fact that your life may not be what you hoped it would be, and it does not lessen the pain of your circumstances. Sometimes when grieving a loss, we look at the start of a new year from a unique perspective other than beginning on January 1st. We might think of a new year beginning on the anniversary of our loved one’s death, or the date we made a move to a new job or new home. Particularly after the death of a family member, the 1-year anniversary of their death is a milestone, in that we tend to feel relief that we have made it thru the first year, and hope that things will be a little better in the second year.
Regardless of where we find ourselves in this new year, we can still commit to taking better care of ourselves, which is especially important while grieving. When we take care of ourselves, we often find that it impacts us not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. And so, I offer these wellness tips (not resolutions) for everyone in the hopes that this year will be the best that it can be for you.
1) Identify your purpose in life for now.
Think of what you do or can do to make this world a better place for those around you. Reflect on what brings you happiness, and fulfillment in your life.
2) Practice being grateful.
It isn’t easy to feel grateful when you are dealing with loss or difficult circumstances. However, when we practice gratitude each day, we can usually find people to appreciate, beautiful things in nature to admire, the satisfaction of an enjoyable book, a satisfying meal, a good conversation, a good movie, etc.
3) Connect with Others
Some of us tend to withdraw from others when we are going through rough times, and yet loneliness is known to be something that shortens the life span of seniors. The value of friendship and social interactions cannot be overstated. Reach out to family and friends, or at least engage when they reach out to you.
4) Stay hydrated.
If you are not in the habit of drinking plenty of water throughout the day, this will take some effort to become a habit. Our bodies are made up largely of water, and water keeps our joints lubricated, improves our cognitive abilities and even our mood, prevents infections, and helps to maintain our body temperature. Water is best, but other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages can also help with hydration.
5) Get Enough Sleep
This is a huge problem for many of us! We all know that we can deal with life’s challenges and stress if we are well-rested. So, take those sleep hygiene reminders seriously. Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before bedtime. Stop using your phone, tablet, computer a couple of hours before bed. Maintain your bedroom at a cool temperature and as a quiet, inviting space. Stay active during the day as much as possible so that you will be tired.
If these wellness tips seem overwhelming for you at this time, pick one that seems doable for you and give it a try. Success breeds success and so you may be able to conquer them all in whatever you define as your new year! But even if you can only conquer 1 or 2 of these, you will have taken positive steps toward making this year a better one!
Lastly, if you are struggling with grief, depression, anxiety, or relationship issues, do not be reluctant to seek help, as asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy 2024!