Filling the day with simple activities could be the key to improving mood and well-being after a person has suffered the loss of a loved one, a new study finds.
“In other words, there are things we can do — which are accessible for most people — to improve our moods,” said researcher Shevaun Neupert, a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. “And those things can help us most on days when we most need it.”
Uplifts that can help a person manage their grief include:
Completing a task.
Getting enough sleep.
Visiting, phoning or writing a friend.
Spending time with family.
These uplifts helped just about everyone, regardless of their age or financial status, researchers found.
“Uplifts were good for everyone, but there is some nuance in not only who is most impacted, but when the uplifts are most powerful,” Neupert says. “For example, we found that the positive effect of uplifts was more pronounced for people who had experienced traumatic loss, and especially so on days when they reported feeling older.”
For this study, researchers worked with data from 440 U.S. adults ages 50 to 85, 356 of whom had experienced the loss of a loved one.
Study participants completed a daily diary survey for 14 days in a row, with questions designed to track daily activities and mood. They also were asked whether they felt older or younger than they actually are.
These diary entries showed that uplifts could help people when they were feeling at their lowest.
“The untimely or traumatic death of close friends or family is emotionally taxing, and navigating grief can be difficult,” researcher Caitlin Reynolds, a doctoral student at North Carolina State, said in a university news release. “Our study suggests there are specific things people can do to bolster their emotional well-being following a traumatic loss.”
The Mayo Clinic has more about managing grief.
SOURCE: North Carolina State University, news release, Feb. 7, 2024
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