Help! Five Things to Do When Words Aren’t Enough

Help! Five Things to Do When Words Aren’t Enough

Tragedy often strikes when we least expect it, and sometimes there are no words available to express our feelings. Shock is a normal response to hardship. But supporting someone you love or seeing yourself through a difficult situation doesn’t end when you have nothing to say. Being unable to articulate how we feel or what we’re going through can make the healing process that much more difficult. Here are five things you can do to take care of yourself when you can’t quite find the right words to talk about your feelings.

  1. Take care of the basics. Hearing tragic or unexpected news can bring our lives to a standstill, so much so that we can forget our most basic needs. When you’re feeling overwhelmed take a moment to step back and ask yourself, “Have I eaten anything today?” “When was the last time I slept?” “Did I sleep well?” Checking in with yourself to make sure all your basic needs are covered can go a long way toward helping you feel like yourself again.
  1. Set boundaries. People are often unsure how best to help during difficult times, including when someone is healing from the loss of a loved one or undergoing an intense medical treatment, like chemotherapy. If you’re not ready to talk to people about your experience it is completely o.k. to say so; friends and family members truly committed to helping you will respect your wishes.
  1. Exercise. Moving around and being active is an excellent way to shake up your body chemistry and inject some feel-good hormones into your brain. Exercise can also make you more physically tired, leading to a better night’s sleep, and can give your unconscious some time to work through specific issues or thoughts that have been troubling you. If you can exercise, even a little, it will help both your physical and mental state.
  1. Dream something new. Holding onto a past or a goal that is no longer possible, no matter how cherished, is going to hurt. If you can’t find the words to describe something you’ve lost – a marriage, a job, your way of life – try describing a new life for yourself you would feel proud to live. Even if you feel like you can’t live without whatever you have lost, articulating a new dream or goal can open you up to a new kind of life worth living.
  1. Be present. Being inundated with emotions of any kind can make you feel out of control, only adding to your anxiety. When we experience intense adversity, there is a natural instinct to avoid the full brunt of our inner monologue, silencing it with all sorts of behaviors, from overeating to drinking to drugs. Avoiding your feelings, despite hesitations, is entirely unnecessary. Emotions are normal and healthy. Take the time today to sit with yourself and observe your feelings and thought patterns. You will become more aware of your mental state and overcome a fear of your own inner critic.
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