As a global community, we can agree that nothing seems normal anymore and, despite attempts to keep them at bay, feelings of grief, trauma and loss have seeped in to our daily routines in varying degrees.

The grief and loss you are experiencing right now might be big or small—such as the loss of routine, contact with a loved one or a major life event. Whatever it is, the way we experience and process it is unique to each of us.

How are we coping?

Many of us are likely to find ourselves engaging in Short Term Energy Relieving Behaviours (STERBs) for temporary relief. Examples of STERBs include

  • excessive exercise (or lack thereof),
  • overeating,
  • increased alcohol use,
  • constant social media exposure,
  • binging of Netflix,
  • online shopping, and
  • maybe even an obsession with work.

It’s important to remember that STERBs are completely normal and there is nothing wrong with you for participating in them. In fact, it would be challenging to find someone who isn’t participating at least one of these behaviours right now.

It’s also important to acknowledge many of these behaviours are not inherently bad and, in the proper amounts and with the right intention, some can even be forms of self-care. Such behaviours become a STERB when they’re done to extreme measures, with the intention to feel numb or avoid working through a particular feeling.

What can we do to cope better?

So, how can we ensure we are engaging in positive activities instead? Give the following self-care activity a try:

  1. On a piece paper, create two columns and title one “STERBs” and the other “Self-care”.
  1. Ask yourself what your STERBS are or may be during times of stress or grief and write them in the first column.
  1. Now, ask yourself what types of activities you find fulfilling and enriching (even if you don’t do them as often as you may want to) and write them in the “Self-care” column.

Note: It’s okay if you have self-care items that are also STERBS if done in excess or avoidance. Highlight or circle them, so you can pay specific attention to when you are engaging in them and ask yourself what your intention is for that behaviour. For example, binging Netflix may be both a STERB and a self-care activity for you—if you’re not sure of the intention, try taking a bath or going for a walk instead and check in with yourself after.

Don’t be afraid to grieve

Some things to keep in mind as you’re going through this period of grief and loss:

  • Your experience is yours alone and what we are all facing is abnormal. It’s okay to acknowledge this; try being compassionate to yourself, and those around you.
  • There is no shame in crying, or not crying—everyone expresses their emotions differently; what matters is that you are embracing and acknowledging them.
  • You are the only person who knows what you need—trust yourself but stay honest if you begin engaging in unhealthy behaviours.
  • Reach out—open up to a trusted friend or family member, explore your health and benefit options.

Additional resources for grief support and awareness: 

Alberta Blue Cross® grief meditation

Ashley Mielke

Brene Brown

David Kessler

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