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Prioritizing Your Health During Widowhood

Steps to Thrive Again

woman wearing gym shoes sitting on pavement with a green smoothie

Widows, how is YOUR health?

As women, we usually take care of ourselves last. When you add widowhood and grief, that amplifies the lack of care we give ourselves. Perhaps you are a widow who has spent weeks, months or years caregiving for your partner. Maybe your partner died unexpectedly. That likely took the focus off of you, and you have likely not been prioritizing your health mentally or physically. I am hoping that will change after you read this blog.

What causes the physical symptoms we experience? A range of studies reveal the powerful effects grief can have on the body. Grief increases inflammation, which can worsen health problems you already have and cause new ones. It batters the immune system, leaving you depleted and vulnerable to infection. The heartbreak of grief can increase blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. Intense grief can alter the heart muscle so much that it causes “broken heart syndrome,” a form of heart disease with the same symptoms as a heart attack. Research shows that emotional pain activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain. 

diagram of women showing how grief affects different parts of the body

Stress links the emotional and physical aspects of grief. The systems in the body that process physical and emotional stress overlap, and emotional stress can activate the nervous system as easily as physical threats can. When stress becomes chronic, increased adrenaline and blood pressure can contribute to chronic medical conditions.

Then the possibility for unhealthy coping mechanisms might set in: increased alcohol consumption, overeating and isolation, just to name a few. Not a great combination for a robust self-care regimen, but now more than ever, taking care of your health is paramount. Not only for your longevity, but for your own grief healing. 

This is why, when you are grieving, it is even more important to take care of yourself. 


Practical Tips for Navigating Grief and Enhancing Well-Being...

Stay Active. Engaging in physical activity can be a powerful way to cope with grief. Regular exercise not only boosts mood but also provides enjoyment and opportunities for social interaction, all of which are beneficial during the grieving process. Research shows that those who were active before their loss tend to navigate grief more easily, suggesting that staying active can help prevent negative mental and physical health outcomes. Remember, the key is simply to get your body moving in any way that feels right for you.

Take Walks. One of the simplest forms of physical activity is walking. It offers numerous physical and mental health benefits, especially during the grieving process. Even a 40-minute walk in nature can significantly reduce stress. If you can, try walking with a friend or family member, as the social interaction can enhance the positive effects.

Prioritize Sleep. Grieving can lead to sleep difficulties such as poor sleep quality, trouble falling and staying asleep, shorter sleep duration and nighttime anxiety. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Establishing a regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine is crucial for coping with grief. Check out a past Widow Wisdom with more tips regarding sleep.  

Eat Healthily. Grief often disrupts eating habits, leading to skipped meals, eating alone, difficulty preparing meals or consuming an unbalanced diet. Try to include more fruits and vegetables in your meals. Whenever possible, eat with friends and family or explore new recipes. Eating several small meals throughout the day can help keep you nourished and support your overall well-being. If you would like a list of resources that I have used for easy recipes, check out this FREE download.  

I don’t want this to be overwhelming to you. Just take one small step towards improving your physical or mental health. Set a goal of where you would like to be in three months, and work backwards on the steps that you need to take to get there. 

What are you going to change?

P.S. If you are not sure where to start, I can help. Maybe you just need one call with me to set you in the right direction. Then my 50-minute advising call would be right for you. Perhaps you are not ready for full coaching and advising and you prefer something more self-paced. Check out my Kick-Start program. Or if you are unsure where to start, jump on a free call with me to learn how coaching can help you on your health journey, find joy again and discover a life you love.


Jody Hello Portrait2.jpg

Hi, I'm Jody!

I’m a widow, grief expert, widow coach, and mom. I hope that Widows in the Workplace is able to provide you with comfort, support and guidance while you find your way with your grief journey. 

It is possible to Rediscover, Reimagine and Relaunch your Life again. You do not need to do it alone. 

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