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5 Ways to Get Through the Hard Times

Managing grief can be a challenge. Here are five tips and tricks plus breathwork to help you get through a loss of any kind.

Too much grief can weigh us and make us feel like the wind—or our very life force—has been knocked out of us. Sometimes we know what we are grieving, and sometimes it isn’t so clear. Grief affects everyone to some degree at some point. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, the loss of normalcy due to isolation during a pandemic, or something in between, you need to move through grief to heal and come out the other side.

But what if you find yourself stuck in prolonged grief and can’t move forward?

Counseling is always an option, as are support groups. But there are many other options you can also use to help yourself get ‘unstuck.’ Breathwork and other self-care tools can make a significant difference when dealing with the grieving process.

1. Honor Loss

Honoring your loss might seem like an obvious place to start, but even that can be a challenge sometimes. No rule says that it has to happen at a certain point in your recovery—honoring loss can occur in the middle of your grieving process, even perhaps as a final step. In particular, honoring the loss of a loved one is an essential step in healing. However, it is also a personal expression and may look different from how another chooses to honor their dear one.

Here are a few ideas you might like to consider.

  • Write in a gratitude journal about all the positive impacts your loved one, your job, and even a previous relationship had on your life.
  • Light a candle in front of a picture of your dear one and say a prayer.
  • Continue a mission or project that was important to your dear one or part of your previous job’s community service that you especially enjoyed.
  • Re-tell stories of your loved one’s life or that they had shared with you.
  • Be creative and spend some time pondering how you can uniquely honor someone who is no longer with you but has contributed so much to your life.

2. Deal with Stress

Stress is unavoidable. And we all have ways of dealing with stress, some healthy, some not. But even ordinary stress can profoundly impact us when we are already feeling depleted.

One of the most accessible stress-buster techniques is a breathing exercise called Bellows Breath. Bellows Breath is especially good at clearing away too many thoughts. 

How-To: Bellows Breath

  1. Sit in vajrasana or sukhasana (cross-legged position). Pranayama can be more effective in vajrasana as your spine is erect and the diaphragmatic movement is better.
  2. Make fists and fold your arms, placing them near your shoulders.
  3. Inhale deeply, raise your hands straight up and open your fists.
  4. Exhale slightly forcefully, bring your arms down next to your shoulders, and close your fists.
  5. Continue for 20 breaths.
  6. Relax with palms on your thighs. Take a few normal breaths. Continue for two more rounds.

3. Manage Anxiety

When we lose someone or even our job, we might start to worry about the future (“What if what happened to them happens to me? What will I do without them? What if I cannot find another job?”), but spending too much time thinking about all the ‘what ifs’ robs us of the present moment. However unpleasant the present moment might be, being present is an important step in managing anxiety.

The quickest way to be in the present moment is to take your attention to your breath. This is because breath—unlike the mind, which oscillates between the past and the future—is always in the present. To maximize this dynamic, try doing this simple breathing technique called Straw Breath which is excellent at reducing blood pressure in the moment, though it is not a substitute for medication. 

4. Prevent Depression

Prolonged grief can be a slippery slope, especially when stress and anxiety aren’t remedied. No one wants to slide into a state of depression, not even briefly. So here’s a list of preventative tips and remedies to help pull you out of depression before it has a firm grip.

Food. If you aren’t eating healthy foods, your mind and emotions could suffer even more. Try eating fresh foods naturally high in prana (subtle life force energy), like colorful fruits and veggies.

Sleep. Getting enough good-quality sleep is critical. You might even find yourself needing extra sleep.

Kindness. When we help others, we stop thinking, “what about me?” It might seem very challenging at first, but stretch your hand out to another person in need—you will begin to feel lighter with every act of kindness.

Dance. We have all heard the saying, “Dance like no one is watching!” This applies to not only overcoming shyness but also releasing pent-up emotions. It is cathartic to dance without restricting yourself, and you might have a much-needed good cry!

Praise. Be sure to give yourself a pat on the back when you have had even small successes on your journey through grief. Praising, whether yourself or another, is a little-known way to raise your life force energy! You got this!

Valor. Sometimes you need to gather all your strength to face the day. So call on your inner lion/lioness to invoke courage and tackle the day!

Spiritual Wisdom. Art of Living founder and spiritual leader Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares how not to let sadness control your life, watch here.

Sound baths. Music to soothe the soul is just the ticket to lift you up and make your sadness smaller. Read here for sound baths and mental bubble baths for a different kind of transformational pampering.

Meditate. Meditation for depression relief is a widely recognized self-care tool. One of the best meditation techniques to consider is mantra-based meditation, known for its effortlessness. If you don’t have a mantra-based meditation practice yet, consider registering for a Silent Retreat. 

Breathe. This cannot be overstated! Breathwork is vital when dealing with emotions. The Art of Living Retreat Center’s Happiness Retreat offers a wealth of breathing techniques for handling your mind and emotions.

5. Breath-Based Meditation

Where do you feel grief in the body? Often there is a sensation in the throat area. Where do you feel gratitude? Also in the throat! You feel choked up with either emotion.

It is possible to transform grief into gratitude by appreciating all life’s blessings and energetically facilitating a shift using breath and meditation.

SKY Breath Meditation, taught in our Happiness and Silent Retreat programs, masterfully takes you from grief and sadness to optimism and joy! Studies have shown that SKY significantly decreases both clinical and non-clinical depression. Learn SKY Breath Meditation, and you will find yourself coming out the other side of grief into a life filled with more happiness.

Lastly, know that time is a good friend, and this too shall pass.

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