What do you think of when you imagine a healthy brain?
You probably are thinking of the standard pink clipart image you saw in science class when you were in elementary school or junior high. Or maybe you’re picturing a variety of colors with a constant flow of energy noting the constant thoughts, feelings, and emotions that a brain is constantly processing.
Whatever you had in mind, keep thinking about it.
Now, imagine a brain that is dealing with grief.
Does it look the same as a healthy brain? Is it different? How has it changed?
I’m sure the image you had in mind originally got a bit darker. Maybe the pink grew a shade darker or those varieties of colors have turned a shade of grey or brown. The grieving brain is dull, lackluster, and grim.
Here’s how grieving affects the brain.
How Grief Affects the Brain
Grief can occur with any type of loss. This could include things like the loss of a loved one, or a change in your life like a career switch or a move to a new location.
When grief happens, neurological changes happen in the brain. Your brain may feel like it’s overwhelmed with different emotions. During this time, your brain is prioritizing the emotional feelings of grief instead of getting through your day-to-day tasks.
Grief brain can affect your cognition and concentration. You may be driving somewhere and not remember how you got there. You may have things on your to-do list that you never get to during your day. Grief can also have an impact on your memory. You may forget appointments or feel like you’re constantly losing your keys, wallet, and phone.
Symptoms of Brain Grief
When you try to work through a significant loss, your brain can struggle to process and move forward. It can feel like you’re experiencing brain fog. Some of the symptoms of a grieving brain include the following:
- Aches and pains
- Confusion or disorientation
- Intense feelings of sadness
- Lack of energy
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
How to Cope
Grief takes time. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to coping with grief. There are certain things you can do to help you start to move forward and get back to your daily routine again. Here are a couple of ways to help you through the grieving process.
It can be hard to focus on yourself and your own needs, especially when your world gets turned upside down. Often, your own needs get pushed to the side without even realizing it. Self-care isn’t selfish. Challenging times are just as important, if not more important when it comes to taking care of yourself.
Make sure you’re fueling your body properly. This includes nutrition and sleep. Aim to eat between 3-5 healthy and well-balanced meals throughout your day. Stressful times can cause sleeping problems. Do your best to get in at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
Seek Additional Support
Your grief may have you feeling like you need to withdraw yourself and self-isolate. This can actually cause the symptoms you’re experiencing to worsen over time, especially if left untreated.
If you’re struggling to put yourself out there right now, that’s okay. What you’re feeling is completely normal, but that doesn’t mean that you should be left alone right now. Seek additional support from your loved ones or a therapist.
Counseling can be a great way to talk to an unbiased third party about how you’re feeling. A therapist will work with you to help you find ways to cope with how you’re feeling. Over time, you’ll be able to let go of your grief and move forward again.
Reach out to us today to set up a consultation for grief counseling.