Self-care is one of the most important aspects of grieving. Unfortunately, this is the last thing you may think about doing. If you are like me, you may end up putting your own self-care on hold because grief has made you physically exhausted. In fact, grief is what is draining your energy. Being physically drained puts you at risk of becoming sick or being involved in an accident. When you are physically healthy, you are better able to deal with the emotions associated with grief. This is why it is important to practice self-care as much as possible to remain healthy. One of the ways to do this is to find “tools” that work best for you. One of those tools might be the use of “weighted blankets” especially if you are feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping.
Before we discuss what they are, let’s talk about the reasons behind why you might consider using one.
RESPONSES TO GRIEF
Fear is one of the most normal emotional responses to loss. The fear of the unknown, the fear of the unfamiliar, and the fear of adapting to a dramatic change in all of our habits, behaviors, and feelings. In A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis wrote, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” Fear is a very real part of grief. Fear can make it overwhelming to the point of paralyzing you. Holding on to fear when you are grieving can actually have a snowball effect. You may begin associate fear with the death of your loved one. You may begin to associate fear with your own health, especially if your loved one died from a chronic illness. Eventually this thinking creates an avalanche of fear-based thoughts, which can overtake and overwhelm you. This can lead to feelings of anxiety.
When you are grieving, you can also feel like the future is out of control. For those of you who like to think you have control of your life, experiencing a loss makes you realize you don’t. Not at all. Not one bit. Things can change in an instant. Nothing may ever be the same. You jump on the worry bus, and the wheels go round and round until you can’t get off. You don’t eat. You don’t sleep. You see only one narrow perspective. Then your worry creates fear and anger. It becomes a vicious cycle. Worrying just leads you to no man’s land and can lead to feelings of anxiety.
Sleep can also be a huge issue when you are grieving. For me, it was insomnia or lack of sleep; you, on the other hand, may just want to put the covers over your head and sleep for as long as you can. Either way is not good. I found I wasn’t sleeping much at all in those first few weeks after my loved one’s death. Everything went out the window when grief came calling. I yearned for a good night’s sleep.
So what is a “weighted blanket” anyway? Weighted blankets are not like the kinds of blankets we usually use. They typically weigh anywhere from 4 to 30 pounds, making them heavier than the average comforter or down quilt. A weighted blanket provides pressure and sensory input. This simulates being hugged. As we already know, hugs are one of the greatest forms of healing. They are a natural way of reducing stress.
HOW THEY HELP
Some research has shown that weighted blankets can be very soothing if you are experiencing anxiety or insomnia. Weighted blankets are heavier than normal, and may give the sensation of being hugged. In turn, this stimulates serotonin production, which naturally converts to melatonin and provides a sense of calmness. This is especially important when you are trying to fall asleep.
Weighted blankets also reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol is produced when your brain elicits the “fight or flight response.” This often happens to someone who is grieving. Reducing the levels of cortisol helps you to feel less anxious. This is why weighted blankets are often used for people with autism or Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
One study where the participants used a 30 lb weighted blanket, revealed that 63% reported lower anxiety after use, and 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality. Another study in Autism Parenting Magazine indicates weighted blankets for autism can be particularly helpful for children during times of heightened anxiety, before bedtime, or when they are overwhelmed.
Weighted blankets may provide a safe alternative to medication or other types of treatment. They can also be used to complement existing therapies and help manage anxiety and insomnia. In fact, they are covered by some insurance plans, provided you have a prescription from your Doctor.
HOW TO BUY
Weighted blankets can be bought from a variety of manufacturers. Your own weight helps you determine the right weight of a blanket. Some manufacturers recommend that adults buy a blanket that’s 5 to 10 percent of their body weight. Your Doctor or an Occupational Therapist can also help you to decide which weight blanket will be the most comfortable and efficient for you.
Also consider choosing a blanket that’s made from 100% cotton. Polyester and other synthetic fabrics are typically much hotter. Doesn’t work well if you are going through menopause or have circulation issues.
Here are a few of the weighted blanket manufacturers (I am not a paid affiliate):
SEW YOUR OWN
Of course if you are into sewing or quilting, you can also make your own weighted blanket for a fraction of the cost.
Here is a great Hallmark Channel video explaining what you would do:
Sending you love, comfort and peace!