It may be hard to think about doing anything physical when you are sleep deprived and crying, but getting outside and moving your body is an activity that really helps with the anxiety experienced in grief. The physical exercise is of course appreciated by your body, and it can get your mind to focus on other thoughts, especially if you do some sensory mindfulness as you move.

How do you do this?

  1. Get up and get outside. Assess the weather and dress accordingly. (You may laugh at that last statement, but when you are mourning, you don’t think logically sometimes and you have to remind yourself to do these types of things. You also may be out of touch with your body and physical needs, or think “I don’t care if I get cold…I don’t care about anything anymore.” But your body does, so dress accordingly and use your “wise brain” here). You do not have to take a long walk. Set out for 10 minutes with the option to go longer if you want.
  1. Begin to tune into the outside environment one sense at a time, and then two at a time, like seeing and hearing, or seeing and feeling.

Seeing– look around and focus in on the trees, grass, plants if there are any.  Notice the colors and say the colors in your head: I notice a pink rose, green grass, brown leaves, etc. Look up at the sky and notice the colors you see. Or if you are walking around a neighborhood, notice the houses, cars, gates, or other things you see.

Hearing– What sounds do you hear? Say these sounds to yourself: I hear the wind blowing through the trees, children talking, cars moving, a horn.

Feeling– notice the wind against your skin, the clothes rubbing against you. Tune into your body and notice the feeling of your feet as they touch the pavement or dirt, the feeling of your chest as it moves in and out with your breath, the air coming in and out of your nose or mouth as you breathe, your arms swaying back and forth.

Smelling– what smells are you aware of? Someone cooking something? Dryer sheets from a neighbor doing laundry? The smell of a flower or plant?

Tasting– does your mouth have a taste left from something you ate or drank?

  1. Just observe what you are sensing. If a thought comes into your head about your loss, acknowledge it, and then gently shift back to your sensory observations. Try not to judge yourself with this. Expect that these thoughts are going to come and be gracious with yourself. If you notice something pleasurable or positive as you are sensing, say it out loud or in your head. Acknowledge it: That is a beautiful flower. You may even be grateful for that one moment of appreciating the beauty.

Getting a small reprieve from the recurrent thoughts, whatever they are, is welcomed in grief. It’s those small moments of relief, and maybe even peace, that you are building. Paying attention to other thoughts helps you move through the pain, moment by moment.

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