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Short and Sweet Summary: Widowhood is exhausting. You deserve the healing, curative potential of powering down. Grievers who prioritize rest are rewarded with the stamina, enthusiasm, and brainpower to live a healthy life.
Are you getting enough rest?
You might think you’re resting enough if you are able to sleep at night. And while that’s true, I’m not talking about that kind of rest. I’m talking about resting your weary mind and body during the day when you get lost in the shuffle of your chaotic and grief-filled days.
Are you getting enough rest then?
Widows have a lot going on. You had responsibilities before your spouse died and now you must manage those responsibilities and more. And do it ALL BY YOURSELF. Adding to the list of your responsibilities while grieving takes a major toll on you because you try to get everything done, but grief sucks the energy right out of you.
If you’re like most widows, you want to restore your energy, but you don’t make rest a priority because you have so much to do! Your brain might tell you it’s selfish to take time off and do nothing, have no plans, or intentionally make plans to unplug.
But that’s exactly what you need to do. Resting isn’t selfish, it’s restorative. You deserve the healing, curative potential of powering down. Make rest part of your routine so you have the stamina, enthusiasm, and brainpower to live a healthy life.
If you’re a widow who needs to prioritize rest, read on for how to know when it’s time to rest and clever ways to get the rest you need.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO REST
We widows are weary.
With so much going on, the most noticeable form of weariness is physical fatigue. While you may be aware of your signals for when you’re tired, you might not be paying attention to these other sneaky ways weariness shows up.
Extended brain fog
It’s normal for widows to experience brain fog from the sheer confusion of grief, but it’s also a signal to rest your overactive mind. When you experience trauma, your brain shields you from anything that’s too overwhelming and the brain fog sets in. Take the cue to rest and relax when you find your ability to remember things or manage simple tasks flies ys right out the window.
When you’re not resting, your body’s defenses are at risk. If you’re getting sick more often, it could be your body’s way of forcing you to rest. Your body knows when it’s had enough, even if your mind isn’t on board. Getting sick frequently is a surefire sign you need to incorporate more rest into your schedule even if you don’t think you do.
Scientists are discovering that your gut is like a “second brain.” The relationship between digestion and health is gaining some major traction in medical research. If you’re experiencing some digestive distress, it may be because of a lack of rest. When you’re tired, anxiety and stress can exacerbate an already nervous stomach. If you’re dealing with heartburn, stomach distress, or frequent trips to the restroom, it might be time to make rest a bigger priority.
CLEVER WAYS TO REFRESH AND RENEW
When you decide that it’s OK to make rest a priority (yay, you!) you can use these simple suggestions to refresh and renew throughout the day.
Take a 15-minute power nap
A power nap is an opportunity to close your eyes and be still. You don’t even have to fall asleep. You can still reap the benefits of a power nap by simply giving yourself a few minutes to recharge. Just taking 15-minutes to lie down and relax is enough to increase your energy to get through the rest of the day.
When my kids were younger, my day got exponentially busier after 3:00 when they got home from school and our afternoon routine kicked into high gear. So, at 2:45, I would lie down on the couch, close my eyes, and set my phone alarm in case I fell asleep. For the next 15 minutes, I committed to just zoning out before the chaos ensued. I cannot overstate how much these power naps helped me get into a better state of mind before my kids got home.
You don’t have to be a “nap” kind of person, but setting aside time to decompress, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, does wonders for your weary soul.
Practice deep breathing techniques
I don’t think I took a full, deep breath for the first two years after I was widowed.
I never really noticed my shallow breathing until I was in the doctor’s office for a lung function test and realized how hard it was for me to take a deep breath. What I thought was a problem with my lungs was simply a problem with my breathing. I wasn’t doing it properly.
My doctor suggested a series of deep breathing exercises to reduce my stress and help me feel less anxious. Because deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for a variety of body processes like heartbeat and blood flow, it helps you avoid your fight-or-flight response to all those scary circumstances you’re dealing with. Like your spouse dying.
I like to practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique because it requires me to count, and that keeps me focused on the breathing instead of letting my mind wander.
It goes something like this:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale for 8 seconds
Once I got my breathing in check, my anxiety decreased. You can practice deep breathing any time you feel the pangs of panic creeping up on you.
Find other deep-breathing exercise here.
Hop into these restful yoga poses
You don’t have to be a full-on yogi to reap the benefits of a few restorative yoga poses.
When you want to rest but aren’t sure how to wind down, hop in Child’s Pose (Balasana) and feel your stress melt away. Or simply practice Legs-Up-The-Wall (Viparita Karani) to boost blood circulation.
- Start on hands and knees
- Sit back on heels and spread your knees apart (with big toes touching)
- Extend arms in front of you
- Bring forehead to the ground
- Rest for a few minutes
The benefits of Child’s Pose include calming a racing mind as well as releasing tension from your back and other muscles.
- Lie on the floor
- Shift your hips as close to the wall as possible
- Lift your legs against the wall
The benefits of Legs-Up-The-Wall pose include easing headaches and boosting energy.
Try EFT Tapping
When you can’t seem to calm your racing mind, try tapping your way into serenity.
Tapping, also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), is based on the combined principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. The idea is to focus on a negative emotion while using fingertips to tap on specific meridian points of the body. When you tap on these meridian points, you send a calming signal to your brain to let it know it’s safe to relax.
It sounds weird, but it works!
Learn more about tapping with Tapping 101 from The Tapping Solution.
Unplug from Social Media
One of the best ways to rest is by turning off social media.
It’s too easy to get sucked into the habit of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or any other number of social media apps. Even though you think it’s a simple activity, you’re forcing your brain to process several emotions at once, like envy, anger, or annoyance. This can lead to major exhaustion without even knowing it.
When you’re mindlessly scrolling, you’re absorbing the filtered and fabricated nature of social media. It’s not real life. I know you know this, but it still bears repeating 🙂
You can rest your weary mind by doing a digital detox and unplugging once in a while.
Find a monthly calendar full of digital detox ideas here:
WIDOW WRAP UP
Grieving takes time and TONS of energy.
When you are grieving, your body is going through a lot of changes. It’s important to give yourself time to heal physically and emotionally. That means lots of rest, my friends! Rest allows your body and mind to refresh and helps you process all the heavy grief you’re experiencing.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but taking some time for yourself is an important part of the process. Don’t feel guilty if you need to take a break from everything and just relax.
Widows who prioritize rest are rewarded with the stamina, enthusiasm, and brainpower to live a healthy life.