- Self Care Checklist
- Helping Teens with Grief
- Ways to take care of yourself during times of loss
- Coping with Grief
After experiencing unusual, stressful, or traumatic situations, be mindful to take care of your own physical and emotional needs. This healthy behavior allows you heal from difficult experiences and remain present and supportive to others in your life.
Use this checklist to consider the self-care strategies that work best for you. Recovering from a difficult situation requires balance, awareness of your own needs, and connections with others.
Make Every Effort to:
- Seek out and give social support
- Check in other colleagues to discuss the response to the emergency
- Use a buddy system to share upsetting emotional responses
- Participate in formal help if extreme stress persists for more than two to three weeks
- Pay extra attention to rekindling relationships
- Spend time with family and friends
- Prepare for worldview changes that may not be mirrored by others in your life
- Schedule time for a vacation or gradual reintegration to your normal life
- Ask for help in parenting, especially if you are feeling irritable or are having difficulties adjusting back to home life
- Plan for family home safety
- Increase positive activities: leisure, stress management, and exercise
- Make time for self-reflection
- Keep a journal to get worries off your mind
- Pay extra attention to health and nutrition
- Practice good sleep routines
- Anticipate that you will experience recurring thoughts or dream, and that they will decrease over time
- Find things you enjoy or make you laugh
- Increase experiences that have religious, spiritual, or philosophical meaning to you
- Learn to “put stress away”
- Try, at times, not to be “in charge” or “the expert”
- Self-monitor and pace your efforts
- Maintain boundaries: delegate, say no, and avoid getting overloaded with work
- Access supervision routinely to share concerns, identify difficult experiences, and strategize to solve problems
- Use relaxation techniques during the day
- Stay aware of limitations and needs: Recognize when one is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (HALT) and take appropriate self-care measures
- Limit caffeine, cigarettes, and substance use
Be careful of engaging in activities that can hinder your attempts at good self-care. Avoid:
- Extended periods of solo work without colleagues or working “around the clock” with few breaks
- Negative self-talk that reinforces feelings of inadequacy or incompetency
- Common attitudinal obstacles to self-care (e.g. “It would be selfish to take time to rest.”
- Negatively assessing your contribution
- Excessive use of alcohol or prescription drugs or use of illicit drugs
Adapted From: Psychological First Aid for Schools, Field Operations Guide
Especially for Teens and Pre-teens
Advice from a grieving teen to friends of a grieving young person
Things that helped me with my grief:
- Being acknowledged and knowing that people were thinking of me.
- Talking—I was grateful for friends who were willing to listen.
- Being with my friends and just doing ‘normal’ stuff and getting away from home.
- Crying helped to loosen up the knots inside me.
- Laughing released my emotions and it helped when I learned that it was okay to laugh and have a good time even though I was still grieving.
- Hugging often means more than words could say.
- Having other people tell me about their losses made me feel less alone.
- Working or doing something to stay busy can be a relief.
- Helping others made me feel better.
- Sometimes being alone was what I needed.
Things that hurt:
- Being avoiding because people didn’t know what to say or do.
- Being pushed to talk when sometimes I didn’t feel like talking or didn’t like people being nosy.
- Feeling different—people whispered about me, looked at me, sometimes I just wanted to forget what happened and feel ‘normal’ again.
- Being offered a replacement—like people said I should get a new…(dog, girlfriend, baby brother, etc.)
- Not being asked; sometimes people talked to my friends but wouldn’t ask me.
- Being told how to feel: “You shouldn’t cry”, “Don’t be angry”, “Everyone feels that way”, or “You should be over this by now”.
Ways you can express sympathy:
- Be direct and simple, say “I’m sorry this happened to you”.
- Give a hug, bring some flowers, bake some cookies, or lend a teddy bear.
- Don’t be afraid to mention the dead person’s name.
- Remember to keep in touch.
- Ask if he/she wants to do routine activities or just take a break.
- Don’t act embarrassed if a grieving friend cries OR laughs. Just be there.
Amended from: Caledonia Health Bereavement Program.
Ways to take care of yourself during times of loss:
- Talk to family or friends about how you are feeling and doing.
- Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
- Write poetry. Draw pictures. Get into art.
- Write letters of regrets and appreciations about anything in life.
- Play a game or sport. Get lots of exercise.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Listen to upbeat music and dance!
- Snack on healthy foods. Take vitamins.
- Enjoy a bubble bath.
- Care for your pets and houseplants.
- Take a favorite stuffed animal to bed with you.
- Read a favorite story.
- Ask someone who loves you to read you a story.
- Let yourself cry.
- Get lots of sleep.
- Spend time in prayer or meditation.
- Treat yourself to a massage.
- Light a candle.
- Sing loud.
- Rent a great, hilarious video. See a fun flick.
- Ask for a hug. Ask for another hug.
Coping with Grief
The death of someone we care about leave us with many different and often intense emotions. Here are some suggestions for activities that can help you process your feelings after the death of someone who matters to you.
- Tears. Crying is a great release of emotions. Tears decrease stress. Cry with a trusted friend or family member. Allow others to take care of you in this time of sadness. If you have trouble letting the tears flow or are embarrassed by your tears, then listen to music and allow yourself to feel deeply.
- Write your feelings. Write to the person who has died. Sharing your thoughts with the person is a great and safe way to take care of unfinished business. It is okay to write about love, joy, anger, or regrets that perhaps weren’t shared prior to the death.
- Keep a journal. Use a beautiful journal or a spiral notebook. Write down all the memories you have. Begin each page with “I remember when…”
- Write a conversation. You can carry a dialogue with a person who has died by writing it out on paper, like the script of a play. Say what you want and then write out what you think the other person would say back to you.
- Talk. Reach out to others who have experienced a loss. Talk about all the good times. Share your feelings with them. Tell your friends and family how much you love them. Talk about the person who died—their stories, how much you miss them.
- Art, poetry, drama, music, photos. Be creative. Make an item as a memorial.
- Humor. Allow yourself laughter. It releases the same inner tension that tears do. You are allowed to laugh even when you are grieving. It doesn’t mean you miss a person less.
- Spirituality. Embrace your religion. Share your questions. Talk it over.
- Health. Grief drains your energy. Take care of your health. Eat healthy foods and get good sleep.
- Non-destructive expression. Express anger, fear, frustration, and anxiety in a manner that is not destructive to yourself and others. You may have a short temper. Be careful with your words. Drugs and alcohol are not healthy or healing and can extend your grieving process.
- Physical exercise reduces tension. Run, walk, lift weights, shoot baskets, play with friends, cheer at a game, or just be active.
- Learn about grief. Time does not magically heal grief. You will journey through it—so be patient with yourself. Read how others have coped or join a support group. Express your feelings rather than lock them inside. Risk loving again. Participate in life.
- Accept help. When we are grieving, we may need extra help. Let someone do you a favor.