Self Help Activities for Coping with Grief

When dealing with grief, self help activities start with self care.  

Are you feeling overwhelmed and grieving the loss of a loved one?

Have you become stuck in prolonged grief or complicated grief?

If so, chances are you may not be taking adequate self care to maintain your personal well being and physical and/or emotional health.

Positive self care strategies are essential and ongoing if we are to live the lives we have been granted. See below for more on Self-Care.

 About Self Help Activities

Self help activities when dealing with grief can include any strategy or activity you participate in that supports healing.

You have already started the self help journey by searching for information and coming to this page.

There will also most likely be a number of self help activities you are already involved in. Do these support you? If not it may be time to try a new activity or something you have always wanted to do or learn.


Self Help Activities Include:

Listed below are the generally recommended self help activities for grief healing as well as other activities people have reported as having helped when coping with grief and loss:

  • Self Help Books – well, there are thousands of them. Stroll through the internet, book shops or library. A good place to start is to go to second hand book shops and charity stores.
  • Practice a high level of self-care
  • Write your grief journal – on reflection I found that keeping a journal was one of the greatest supports for me when coping with grief
  • Improve sleep
  • Manage Stress
  • Solve Problems
  • Sing
  • Manage Anger
  • Be Mindful
  • Meditate
  • Get a Massage
  • Deal with conflict
  • Take up yoga
  • Take up or continue a sporting activity
  • Join a self help group
  • Participate in regular physical exercise: walk, jog, swim,
  • Join a social club
  • Listen to music
  • Declare a relaxation day
  • Learn something new

Many activities could be considered as self help activities.

What interests you? What makes you happy? If you cannot answer these questions at the moment, what are some things that previously interested you or made you happy?


 Benefits of Self Help Activities:

  • Reduce reliance on others
  • Assist in coping with grief and healing
  • Promote joy (yes it is possible)
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase sense of well being and satisfaction in taking positive action
  • Create a greater self understanding
  • Broaden knowledge and learn something new
  • Enhance relationships
  • Make new friends and appreciate others
  • Become more than a survivor, you become an inspiration and role model
  • Self help activities are less expensive and more accessible than some forms of therapy
  • Create your own plan and timetable that remains flexible according to your needs
  • Maintain your privacy and independence, if that is important to you
  • Like yourself
  • Create an easier and more satisfying life

 More on Self Care

Self-care is restoring and maintaining good physical and mental health as well as preventing and managing illness.

When coping with the intense distress of grief and loss we may abandon aspects of our own self care.

  • Have you lost the motivation, energy and will to maintain your 'normal' living routine and responsibilities?
  • Have you lost the very person who you relied on (or who relied on you) to maintain a 'normal' living routine and responsibilities?

 Self care is recovering and maintaining:

 1. Good Physical Health -

  • Good nutrition and healthy eating. A balanced diet and good food preparation
  • Adequate exercise and physical activity
  • A good nights sleep
  • Appropriate medical attention and health monitoring

 2. Good Mental and Emotional Health -

  • Consult a Therapist or Mental health professional if and when needed
  • Take responsibility and participate in activities such as meditation, relaxation, supportive relationships, social support, managing stress, managing anger, spirituality and practising gratitude.

 3. Risk Avoidance -

  • Be careful not to get caught up with drugs or alcohol. See your health care professional if this is an issue for you.
  • Be aware of other possible addictions such as gambling, anger or other potentially destructive behaviours. Again, see your health care professional if this is an issue for you.

Weave self care habits into a program for your daily life. You do not need to do it all at once. Take one step at a time.

Practising self-care is not an attempt to deny or minimise your grief or pain. Self care gives you the opportunity to truly care for the most significant person in your life – YOU.

There may be times you really need to brood, cry or isolate yourself from others – do it. Then reflect and assess what is happening for you.

Monitoring your self-care will give you and understanding of what you can deal with and when you may need to enlist the support of a health care professional.

A five minute walk in the fresh air can work wonders. 

You will soon thank yourself for it.


Key Points:

  1. When overwhelmed by the sadness of coping with grief there are times you may need professional therapy to get you through. Find the best options available for you at these time.
  2. Self help activities, including a high level of self care creates a solid foundation for recovery from grief.
  3. If we incorporate a self care program into our daily lives we will gain tremendous health and wellness benefits for a life time.

  • How Do You Feel; from This Way Up, developed by a team of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney
  • Practise Self-Care: from International Self-Care Foundation (ISF), a registered UK Charity with global focus
  • Self-Help: from Psychology Today