I’m tired. I can’t concentrate.
Where has my energy gone?
Grief isn’t just a mental experience, it manifests itself physically, it can cause aches, pains, illness and insomnia. My personal experience with grief initially involved disturbed sleep due to nightmares and racing thoughts. The lack of sleep then led to amplified feelings of lowness the next day, which would mean I found myself reaching for an extra dose of caffeine to function. This would then be followed by another night of being unable to fully rest. And don’t get me started on the brain fog! Grief releases high levels of stress hormones in the body which can make you suffer from poor concentration levels, disrupted sleep, and depression.
This felt like a never ending cycle that I would never be able to break, it's only when you struggle to sleep do you realise how important it is. During stressful times, and particularly when grieving, sleep is one of the most powerful ways we can do our healing and mental processing. So why was it that I could no longer enter a deep sleep state?
Grief is a crazy thing, I have started to experience joy in some moments throughout the week but at times I still find myself hit by the extreme feelings of loss, emptiness and loneliness. Or if I have been distracted enough during the day, I end up laying in bed awake with all of the thoughts and feelings that I had previously stopped in their tracks. Journaling has been vital for me to be able to empty my mind to some extent but it doesn’t always help with this.
Friends have asked me how I have managed to keep up ‘appearances’ at work whilst working on passion projects, and experiencing broken sleep and brain fog. Like many others, work has served as a much needed distraction for me from multiple lockdowns but especially from my grief. I am grateful to have recently started a new role where I can bring my whole self to work and further explore my creative energies that grief can sometimes suppress.
Shortly after my sister Saima passed away, I was fortunate enough to be sent some 4% CBD by a friend of hers, Kate from The Tonic. I use this before bed each night, alongside an eye mask and lavender pillow spray. I find that it acts like a sleep aid, I have actually been able to drift into deeper sleeps and honestly have started to wake up feeling rested! I still experience anxiety and insomnia when my racing thoughts are particularly bad, but I have also been practicing deep breathing alongside CBD in my nighttime tea. I find using CBD in the day helpful for my concentration levels too.
One of the things I have learnt through my grief is that sleep is an absolute rollercoaster of a journey but it will eventually start to regulate once you apply the right combination of tools and practices that work for you! As of course, these will be different for everyone. I've had counselling on and off which has been phenomenal as it provides a safe space for me to articulate how I am. Another high priority for me to ensure I have a good rest, is having a routine and practising certain rituals. Alongside everything else I have mentioned, I find it helpful using dim warm lights in the evening, curling up with my little sausage dog and reading a chapter of a book before I go to sleep. For the nights I'm extra restless, I might play some quiet meditative music or follow a guided meditation intended for sleep.
A reminder to everyone: It will get better.
Lots of love,
I really wanted to share my experiences of using CBD as I know so many people who are currently struggling with grief, anxiety, concentration levels and sleep. So a bit of a different post today, but shout out to the legends at The Tonic! After hearing how much it had helped me, Kate has kindly offered a discount code for me to share with you guys, just use ‘NAFEESA15’ for 15% off at www.thetonictribe.com.