Protecting Brain Health: Dealing with the Grief of What is Still to Come

Coconut Telegraph

SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY MAY 6, 2020

Many of us associate grief with the feelings and emotions we experience when we lose someone close. But grief is much more than that. We experience grief when dealing with any kind of loss. And then there is anticipatory grief — what we feel when we know there is more loss on the horizon.

Our current situation with COVID-19 has triggered feelings of grief in most of us: grief for those people we have lost to the coronavirus; grief for the loss of normalcy in our day-to-day life; and perhaps most of all, the fear of those losses that are still ahead.

A recent post on Healthline.com, How ‘Anticipatory Grief’ May Show Up During the COVID-19 Outbreak and the return to new “normalcy”, shares five warning signs of anticipatory grief.

We’re on edge — and it’s not always clear exactly why: It might be a sense of dread, persistent anxiety or a feeling of being overwhelmed. This feeling can make it hard to maintain our emotional balance.

We feel angry at things we can’t control: Frustration is a common expression of grief. The little things, things that would not have bothered you in the past, are unconscious reminders that things aren’t the same. It’s a normal reaction to our situation.

We’re resigned to the worst-case scenario: By mentally and emotionally preparing for the worst we think it won’t be so painful when it happens. Be careful of this sign. Maintaining a high level of emotion can lead to chronic stress. Balance is key.

We withdraw or avoid others: It may feel like we’re protecting ourselves from their stress and anxiety by avoiding others, but isolation can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. Try to stay connected but set firm boundaries.

We’re exhausted: All of this stress, fear and anxiety keeps us in a constant state of “fight, flight, or freeze.” The flood of stress hormones that is keeping us ready to react is wearing us down. Exhaustion is a pretty universal grief experience and you are not alone in feeling this way. Do what you can and know that it is enough.

What you can do to protect your brain health.

Validate your feelings. As we have discussed in previous posts, feelings are a normal part of the human experience. Take a brain healthy approach and accept without judgement the feelings that you experience. Everyone deals with things in their own way. Be compassionate to yourself.

Get back to brain healthy basics. Stay fed, hydrated, and rested.

Connect with others. Even when you don’t want to, connecting with others is important to your brain's health and overall well-being.

Make rest and relaxation a priority. When your anxiety levels are high, it is important to give your body and brain the opportunity to relax.

Creatively express yourself. Brain health is protected when you participate in creative outlets that can help you process what’s happening.

Talk to a professional. Online therapy can be an important resource for moving you through your grief and anxiety.

Click here for the full article.

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