JGI/Jamie Grill for Getty Images
JGI/Jamie Grill for Getty Images

Current events in the news have Americans caught between the need to grieve and the mandate to keep moving forward. Whether your loss is very personal or shared with a community, it’s important to take measures to make sure you’re not “trapped” in that grief long-term, according to Dr. Bradley Nelson, a holistic physician with 27 years’ experience in training people in emotional healing techniques. Grief that leads to loneliness and sadness accounts for some of the reasons that one in 10 Americans take medication for depression and anxiety, Nelson says.

“During times when you are feeling an intense emotion, the energy of that emotion can become lodged in your body,” Nelson explains. “These residual emotions can lead to illness years after the events that caused them. When an emotion becomes trapped in the body, a person will feel that emotion more easily under similar circumstances that created that emotion in the first place.”

To try to avoid this downward spiral, Nelson recommends:

  • Reach out. Taking action to help others shifts the focus away from you and toward someone who can benefit from your generosity.
  • Practice choosing your emotions. “Most people have this mistaken belief that our emotions choose us—that we are at the mercy of whatever emotions we tend to start feeling,” Nelson observes. “But no matter what the circumstance, we always choose our own emotions. We can choose our feelings. It just takes practice.”
  • Count your blessings. Make a daily list of the good things in your life. This helps you put into perspective how much of your life is filled with good things as well as challenges.

“Life is filled with blessings to be grateful for, difficulties to overcome, opportunities to explore, decisions to make—and grief and suffering at times,” Nelson says. “All of these things give us experience. They provide ways for us to exercise faith, gain knowledge and develop love. All of the human family is connected; everything that happens to one of us affects everyone to one degree or another. Through our experiences we have the opportunity to strengthen our connection by developing understanding and compassion for one another.”

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