30 (Science Backed) Ways To Connect to Joy In Grief

Sometimes the journey of grief can leave you feeling hopeless, lost, overwhelmed and contracted.

And in these moments, joy feels like a distant friend.

Thankfully, there are hundreds of tiny ways you can connect with joy in your journey of grief… literally, hundreds!

So we bring you 30 ways we personally love to connect to joy. Plus, they are science backed in case your brain needs substantial evidence to get out of its funk.

Whether you’re in your grief journey or supporting those who are grieving, here are 30 ways to connect with joy in grief:

#1. Take a shower. Freshening your body also freshens up your mind.

#2. Take 3 deep breaths. Inhale for 6 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds. Watch and feel the difference.

#3. Go put your feet on the Earth, barefoot. Not concrete. Dirt or grass or stone. Take a few moments there and soak in the healing energy of the Earth.

#4. Go outside in the sun for 5 minutes. Eat your breakfast or drink your morning cuppa’ joe there. Soak it up and see for yourself why every health professional recommends a little bit of sun each day.

#5. Smell something you love. Essential oils are great and have been proven to aid in grief.

#6. Play with your pets. Take them for a walk or just cuddle with them and notice the comfort they offer you.

#7. Get your body moving. Exercise helps to move your energy, shift your state of being, aids in depression, and keeps you fit and healthy! Turns out exercise also helps you to adapt to loss in your grief journey.

#8. Journal. If you have a lot of heavy emotions you need to do something with, journal. It will lighten your load and your mood, making it easier to connect to joy.

#9. Get a haircut. Sometimes we need to just let go. Plus, hair cuts are a great form of self care in grief

#10. Drink a cup of cacao. Finally, someone said chocolate. Cacao’s main ingredient is Theobromine, which makes us feel happy, blissed out, and in love. Cacao can also help with depression in less than 15 minutes!

#11. Cuddle with a loved one. Cuddling is a known way to regulate your nervous system, which helps you to stay calm during intense moments of grief. Plus, you can create a deeper connection with your loved ones too!

#12. Take a hot bath or get into the sauna. Hot water or mist is scientifically proven to create more endorphins in your system.

#13. Practice gratitude. Name 3 things you’re grateful for right now. If you have a hard time doing that, fake it till you make it. Gratitude is a known way to elevate your mood fast.

#14. Join a yoga class. Yoga is a unique form of exercise that combines deep breathing, stretching, meditation, strength training and movement which pretty much is the recipe for feeling blissed out

#15. Read your favorite book. Sometimes we just need to distract ourselves from our grief if it gets overwhelming. Instead of reaching for a screen, grab your favorite book. We love fiction because it takes you into another world and ignites your imagination.

#16. Listen to your favorite song. Or, find a playlist like this one specifically made to aid depression or connect you to joy.

#17. Check out something new. Whether it’s a new store, new hobby, new part of town, new movies. Newness is an experience that creates dopamine for us and gets us feeling happier as we explore something unfamiliar.

#18. Watch a sunset or sunrise. When we sungaze at these special times of the day, we receive lots of magical things through our eyes and it gets sent to our brain, boosting our serotonin, melatonin, and other good chemicals

#19. Catch a great view. Whether it’s a view of your town, a river or a mountain, science shows gaining perspective with a great view is also great for your mental health. 

#20. Draw or make art. Who knew coloring or painting could actually decrease feelings of depression and increase your ability to face stress? So get a zen coloring book and try it for yourself!

#21. Buy yourself some flowers. The colors, smells and feel of flowers will guarantee a smile on your face within seconds.

#22. Try laughter yoga. Laughter yoga is a great way to “force” yourself to laugh until it actually becomes real! Plus it’s a great tool for stress.

#23. Make your favorite meal (or have a friend make it for you). Cooking is a grounding activity that can bring us great joy and satisfaction in making us feel like we’re taking care of ourselves and nourishing ourselves well. Try this collection of depression fighting recipes.

#24. Try out your green thumb at gardening. The compounds in dirt actually increase serotonin in your brain! Who knew!

#25. Make your bed. Turns out the chore you might dread is good for your mental health. Try it out for yourself for a week and see how you feel.

#26. Go to bed early. Studies show going to bed early is a habit many folks who are happy do.

#27. Wake up early. If Arianna Huffington and other high powered CEO’s wake up early to feel better in life all around, it might be worth a try for you, too.

#28. Give color therapy a try. Whether you use color light therapy or simply incorporate more colors around you that brighten your mood, color therapy is a proven easy way to lift your mood. 

#29. Eat your favorite food. I don’t know about you, but giving myself permission to eat my favorite food sometimes helps. Of course, not as a habit if it’s junk food. But eating food you love does help you feel happy!

#30. Put on your favorite outfit. Take off the sweatpants and hoodie, and slip into your favorite outfit, even if you’re not going anywhere. It will bring you both confidence and joy.


Give one of these a try and connect to your joy in grief

We hope you can find at least one thing to inspire you here, and plenty of research to learn more about the importance of the simple things such as sunlight, nature, water, exercise, touch and breath. While grief feels complicated, our hearts truly desire the simple stuff. And science backs that up! How cool is that?

Good luck on your journey of grief, and we are here with you.

How do you connect to joy in grief? Tell us in the comments below!

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