Grief can affect our health in so many ways – here are a few.
Broken Heart Syndrome is not just folklore – it’s a real medical condition. The sudden loss of a spouse or loved one can cause a jolt of intense emotion and trigger hormones that lead to sharp chest pain and trouble breathing. Your heart may not pump blood as well for a while. It can feel like a heart attack, but it usually doesn't damage your heart or block your arteries. Most people get better within a few days or weeks.
One of the many hormones released is cortisone - which is called the stress hormone - and your body may release more of it than usual into your blood stream in the 6 months after the loss of a loved one. High levels of cortisol over a long period can raise your chances of heart disease or high blood pressure.
Sleep problems – grief can keep you from getting the regular sleep your mind and body need. You might have trouble going to sleep, or you might wake up often in the night or even sleep too much. Good sleep habits can help. Wind down slowly before bed with something calm like a bath a book or breathing exercises and go to bed and walk up at the same time each day.
Fatigue – the emotional toll of grief can drain your energy. To keep up your strength be sure to eat enough, even if you don’t feel like it and something as simple as a short walk can really help too. It’s also good to stay connected with family and friends and a support group like FAB Freedom after Bereavement - may be able to give you a sense of connection, along with tools to help you through your grief.
Immune System – there’s a lot of evidence that grief can take a toll on your body’s ability to fight illness and infection, especially if it goes on for a long time.
Inflammation – this happens when your immune system responds to something it sees as a threat and makes tissues in your body swell. It can play a role in heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, and possibly cancer. There’s evidence that grief is linked to inflammation, and some studies show the more severe the grief, the more serious the inflammation. Exercise and eating right can help you manage it.
Anxiety – the events that cause grief can make you feel like you don’t have control over your life. You might be concerned about your financial future or being alone or the possibility of losing someone else. Some worry is normal but if your anxiety lasts longer than a few months or gets in the way of your normal work or home life, it may be time to talk to a professional.
Diffuse – lavender to assist relaxation and sleep, oregano and thyme to support the immune system, frankincense and stress Away to support an anxious body.
Join the free Aroma Freedom Technique sessions on Saturday mornings.
Until next time
Suzie Webb - Clinical Aromatherapist and Nutrition Consultant