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Guest Blog:  Losing a spouse at any point in life can seem unbearable, but for seniors who have been with their spouse for decades, it can be unfathomable.  During this time, it is essential to do everything you can to keep yourself healthy - it really is possible, even though it might not seem like it right now. Below are three proven tips that will help. 

1. Focus On The Three Pillars Of Good Health
It’s hard to be a completely healthy person - mentally, emotionally and physically - without these three things: a good diet, a moderate exercise routine, and a good sleep system. These things affect one another, so do your best to give attention to each one, even while you are grieving. 

Regarding your diet, include plenty of lean protein and fish.  Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can, and load up on olive oil, nuts, and berries for good brain health. Try to limit - hard as it may be - excessive caffeine, alcohol, sugar and nicotine.  All of these have negative effects on sleep, emotional well-being, mental health and physical health. Check here for some good tips on senior nutrition. 

When it comes to exercise, even 15 minutes a day will help; 30 to 45 minutes a day of moderate physical activity would be an excellent goal to work toward. Taking the dog for a walk, gardening, or gentle yoga are all low-stress options. The most important thing is to choose foods and activities that you enjoy.

2. Give Yourself Ways To Relieve Daily Stress
Dealing with life’s stresses is hard for anyone, but following the loss of a spouse it can become overwhelming.  Consider asking friends and family for help or hiring someone to help occasionally around the house - perhaps a housekeeper or bi-weekly personal chef for when preparing meals seems too daunting.

Learn how to say “no” to friends, family, and colleagues. If you are a senior, you might have  spent years as the matriarch or patriarch of a family and people have depended on you for everything.  Maybe you have been willing to drop everything and help at any time, but now give yourself permission to say no to people and take some time for yourself.  Check here for ways to learn how to say no without feeling guilty.

3. Find Comfort In A Hobby
There are so many benefits of throwing yourself into a hobby following any traumatic event. First, and most obviously, it’s an enjoyable distraction.  People who suffer from all kinds of mental, emotional and physical ailments know that one of the best ways to cope is to focus on a hobby. Overwhelming grief is no different.

“When you are busy creating something new – and it can be anything from art to music, cooking to sewing, drawing to photography – you can become so completely absorbed in whatever it is that nothing else will matter,” notes Amoils.com.

The other thing that a hobby can provide is connection to the outside world, specifically other people. Grief often comes with a lot of self-imposed isolation, and this can become unhealthy. Getting out of the house and socializing - forming new connections with other people - is one of the best ways to help yourself overcome grief.

It Will Get Better, Eventually
Grief is a normal experience after loss, and there is no time limit on how long you will grieve over someone you loved.  While your own physical and mental well-being may slip immediately following the loss of your spouse, it is vital that you make it a priority as soon as you can.  Overcoming grief will be easier when you are healthy, and you deserve to feel better. 

About the author - Jackie Waters is a mother of three who devotes her time to her family, home and farm.  She most recently lost her mother-in-law to cancer and is inspired to help seniors, like her father-in-law, find hope and health in the midst of their grief.


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