In this episode of the Balance Code Podcast, we explore the three ways hidden grief intensifies stress. Hidden grief, often overlooked by society, can manifest in various forms and impact your physical and mental health.
Learn how acknowledging and addressing hidden grief can reduce stress and help you lead a more balanced life. Join us in our latest podcast episode as we unravel the mystery behind hidden grief and how it affects our daily lives.
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Welcome to the Balance Code Podcast, a place where you have permission to step outside the hamster wheel of day-to-day life and learn tools to create more balance. My name is Katie Russell. I'm a licensed therapist and burnout and hidden grief specialist. I support ambitious, goal-driven people who are ready to get off the one-way train, to burnout and start to enjoy life again to the fullest. Oh and, by the way, I'm a mom of three, an ex-pat living in Germany who's still learning the language, and an entrepreneur Living. My balance code is what keeps me able to work in incredible ways without burning up. So let's find your balance code. Welcome back to the Balance Code Podcast. Today, we're talking about three ways hidden grief is adding to your stress, and this is a really important topic to me because, as some of you know, I've written a book a couple of years ago called the New Face of Grief, specifically on hidden grief and how it's impacting our lives. And with what's going on in the world over the last five years, it's even more relevant and something we need to be paying attention to. Well, before we dive into that, let me remind you that the Stress Less Society is open. This is a support group for women who desire to learn stress management tools in a group format where we can hold each other accountable during the most difficult time of year, the cold, wet, grainy, gray season October through April. You can sign up for one month or for three months to get that support you need and learn some tools to deal with the holiday stress, the funk that comes with all the gray weather and it being dark longer, but also when we have those times where we're like everybody's getting sick in our home. So I invite you to get more information by checking the link below in the description of this podcast. Okay, let's dive in Three ways. Hidden grief is stressing you out and really adding to the stress you're experiencing. Let's start with what is hidden grief. Now, if you've been following me for the last three years, then you already know the answer to this, but I'm going to guess some of you have not been. So let's start from the beginning. We're all familiar with what grief is. We tend to relate grief to the death or loss of someone or something very close to us, and that's true, right. Grief is related to death. But originally, when the stages of grief were created, it was about those who were terminally ill and their own process of coming to terms with their death coming. Well, then psychologists and therapists said hold on. These stages of grief are experienced by the family members too. And then it started to become even broader Anyone experiencing grief related to the loss of someone. As time progressed and people studied grief more, there was the realization that there's something called disenfranchised grief or, as I like to call it, hidden grief, because it's way easier to say. And that is the grief that society doesn't recognize because it's usually not connected to a death. And if it is connected to a death, it is in relation to a celebrity dying or someone in your neighborhood you weren't really connected to, but it still impacts you and creates that grief. When we look at a more broader view of what grief is, it is the experience of letting go of the way we thought life would go or should go and really coming to terms and accepting how life is. Now. When we look at it from this definition, we start to notice that grief can show up in a lot of areas of our lives, not just related to the loss of someone. We can see that grief is in relation to changing identities in our life, whether you become a parent or you go off to school or you are now have an empty nest. We see that grief comes with health issues. Grief comes with moving. Grief comes in times like we're in right now, where there is war and struggles throughout the world. Grief comes in that process of I really thought my children would grow up in a particular world that was safer or better. And here we are and I don't feel like that's happening. We all experienced grief during the COVID time of our freedoms were taken. Things changed All of a sudden. We had to abide by certain rules or expectations and we were grieving our freedom, the anticipation of what is next and how is this world going to look, and will this always be going on? So grief has shown up for all of us throughout our lives and I really encourage you, if you want to learn more about how hidden grief has shown up in your life, that I have a free audio chapter of my book. That is that particular chapter where it says how does hidden grief show up in our lives? What causes it? And I'll make sure that there is a link to that in the description below. Okay, so we now know that hidden grief is related to this adjustment, letting go of the way life was supposed to go, what we thought it was going to look like. What happens is, most of us didn't learn how to heal or deal with this type of grief. We barely know how to deal with grief related to death. So when we are not role modeled or taught how to deal with this grief, we just like put it inside, kind of like baggage luggage, right like packing away and just get stuck in us, and we noticed that health issues arise five to ten years later. When this happens, we noticed that mental health issues start to become more prominent the more this baggage builds up that we have not let go of. We struggle with our sleep and our eating, and our relationships are impacted. So I want to get into specifically, though, three ways. Hidden grief is really adding to your stress, because that is something that's really important to me that more people recognize. It's up to you if you want to deal with your hidden grief. It's up to you. You can call it emotional mental baggage if you want. However, it is creating a dynamic where people are going towards burnout faster because they're not resolving these things, and it's adding to your stress. So the first way that hidden grief is adding to your stress is that when we have things that are unresolved, they then compile. So if I have had a history of issues in relationships right like, let's say, my first love like it went so horribly and that really shaped the way that I dealt with relationships from there on, and maybe my parents struggled too, and so I didn't really see a healthy relationship role model Now this is not the case in my situation, but I'm using for an example so that is my foundation of the house of my relationships right. Then I will seek out relationships that are similar because it's comfortable and in the therapy world we know this because we see that people stick with comfort even if, logically, they know it's not healthy, they know that it's not good for them. So I have this foundation that's actually really rocky and unstable, but it's normal to me. So I'm going to continue on with these unhealthy relationships in my friendships and my work situations and romantically, it's not just in the romantic relationship, it impacts all of my relationships. I will probably be the person who rolls over and lets them do whatever they want. I don't want to cause problems. If I do fight the system, I immediately apologize. I feel really bad. I feel like I've done something wrong. How this adds to your stress is when I then start to have those unhealthy relationships that compile right, build upon each other. That weight is on me and I no longer feel confident in myself. I no longer capable. I tend to give my power, and probably even things like money or resources or even my time, to someone else to be in charge of, and that adds stress to my system. I am constantly in a state of fight, flight, freeze or fawn, which just means play dead and not literally play dead. But you know what I mean. I'm not here, I disappeared. I don't know what you're talking about, but as soon as I'm in that state, in a relationship or an interaction with someone, I immediately fall into that place, and that adds stress to your system. So this is one area where it makes sense to work on the hidden grief. It makes sense to work on the emotional and mental baggage, because we don't want to fall into the same patterns that we saw growing up or that happened to different generations in our family. We want to live our own lives, even though we're going to be impacted by those epigenetics. We also don't want to be impacted by old relationships, because maybe there's some good things that came from it, but there might be a lot of bad things. It's time to resolve that. This is the first area where it's really adding to your stress by having that hidden grief. The second way that hidden grief is adding to your stress is because, when we hold on to hidden grief, I want you to think about it like really dense energy. Have you ever entered a room after a couple had an argument or there was a disagreement at work and you're like, ooh, I can cut the tension with a knife. You are feeling the energy of the space. Some of you are like, katie, I don't know what you're talking about. That's okay. Those of you who do know you get it. But I want you to imagine just really dense. Okay, I'm going to do it in terms that all of us can get dense chocolate cake, like really creamy, thick, tough to cut through. That's what the energy of hidden grief is. It's just really really thick. And I know chocolate cake. You're like, well, the chocolate cake is good, unless you can't have chocolate or you don't like chocolate. But it is this denseness and it is hard for us to cut through it. It is hard for us to really get through and once we do, it's like, okay, that is the energy of hidden grief. And imagine that stored within every cell of your body. Because ultimately, when we go through emotional or mental trauma in whatever form and remember, trauma doesn't have to be big, major incident. That's like something would be newsworthy. It can be being bullied in school, it can be parented in a way that really upsets and hurts you and like sticks with you, like. This is what I work with my clients on is to recognize that hidden grief isn't always about a major event that happened. It's the stuff we still think about at times or that still triggers us to have emotions. So we have this denseness throughout our system and it's just sitting there waiting for us to actually work on it, waiting for us to release it, and it's like a tense muscle that's just tight and you're just like somebody massage this out, somebody like get this out, like it is so tense. But you actually have to pay attention to it, you actually have to work on it and it is layers, like the layers of the onion. I mean I'm throwing every analogy at you guys today, but you know, each layer of the onion you pull off creates a motion right Makes us cry Like whoa, because every layer of the onion has these gases that are released that impact us. That's the same thing with this. So it's like, oh well, I don't really want to deal with it. You are, whether you like it or not, your body is dealing with it, subconsciously you're dealing with it and it comes out in physical manifestations. What am I talking about? Here's the second way hidden grief is adding stress to you. It is literally adding stress to your physical body. So you're going to feel tense muscles, especially lower back issues. You're going to feel your hamstrings are very tight and you're going to have experiences of struggle with sleep because of all this tenseness that's going on. You're going to feel yourself geared towards being more anxious because your system is already on high alert because of feeling so tense. It really will start to feel like, oh, weight is on your shoulders and you will think it is the stress of what's going on in the present moment. But it is the stress of things being added upon you because you didn't release the stress of the baggage from before. And that makes sense, because some of this stuff is childhood and teen years and we didn't know how to deal with it then. But if you haven't, then it's just piling up and being stored in your body, and as kids we were able to usually run around and get some of this out. But there's still an emotional component to hidden grief work that we underestimate the importance of. And I don't mean you need to go cry, because often with grief work, we just think of the mourning period of it. We just think of the tears. There is anger, there is fear, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed, and so when we start to do that, I will tell you my clients will go oh, my god, I feel lighter and I'm like, yes, of course you feel lighter because you were holding this on you as what you thought was just emotional and mental baggage. But physically, because the mind and body are so connected, physically you were holding this, you were holding on to this, and so the second way hidden grief adds to your stress is physically it impacts your system, it feels like a weight, it impacts your health, and so it's like to me it's a no-brainer, like I would rather work on my emotional and mental baggage. So then, physically, I feel lighter and I feel better. And the third way that hidden grief is adding to your stress is it's impacting your ability to be vulnerable, to be authentic, to really be you. Because when we have hidden grief, we create almost this trench around us where people can't get to our kingdom, right, they can't get to our castle Again, I'm throwing all the analogies at you guys but we are on our little island or our little castle, right, and we're like, no, no, no, you can't get around me because I don't want you to see who I am. Because of my hidden grief, because of my mental and emotional baggage, I'm afraid for you to touch me, be around me, to see me, to experience me, because there's something wrong with me. Or if you knew these things about me, you wouldn't like me, you wouldn't want to be around me. That's all because of hidden grief. We don't come out of the womb afraid for people to be connected to us. We come out of the womb and need attachment, and we always need attachment from there on. I'm sorry, I don't care how introverted you are. You need to attach to people. It doesn't have to be everybody and not everybody's your person, but you need people. So hidden grief makes us isolate ourselves and we think it's to protect others or to protect ourselves, but what we're doing is actually adding more stress to the system. We need people Now. The problem is, because of our hidden grief, we might pick the wrong people. We might actually pick the wrong people to be in our lives. And when there are healthy and good people around us, our radar goes up, red flags go up this person's on tape. This is not the right person. Because they're uncomfortable, because they're healthy. I've had many clients tell me yeah, I don't know, I don't really want to be friends with that person. And then months later, they connect with that person. They're like oh my god, that was the best conversation. I really enjoyed them. They're able to be so authentic and I felt so safe to be myself. And I realized, because they are that way, it was uncomfortable before. That's why I didn't want to like hang out with them. And I'm like, yeah, because our hidden grief adds stress to our system by keeping us pulled away. And then, when there's something good that can come and help us get out of that castle and like come to the mainland, be a part of life, we're like no, no, no, that's really bad. Right, there is a snake. This is something dangerous, I have to stay hidden. So the third way that hidden grief is impacting your stress and adding to your stress is by keeping you isolated and believing that that is actually what keeps you safe. And it doesn't. It is adding to the complexity of the problems. It is keeping the mental and emotional baggage even More of a weight on your shoulders, and so all three of these ways that hidden grief is adding stress to you Don't feel simple in the moment to deal with. It's like Katie, I don't know where do I even begin, but as soon as you get started, you go wow. When I impact one of these three things to add less stress, I see that I'm adding less stress in other areas, and so it is very interconnected. And that's one of the beautiful things I love about hidden grief work is it's pretty quick when you start to address it. In certain ways, I Find that coaches and therapists and mentors and guides and whatever names you want to give us when they start working on it, they tend to go into the trauma part of it and like let tell me the story, let's relive this, let's work on regulating your nervous system as you tell the story, and I don't believe that that is effective when it comes to hidden grief or that is great for trauma work and I am not the person to go to for the heavy trauma work. But with hidden grief there's a certain way that we balance the logical brain with the emotional brain and it's it's a bit of a science and it's a bit of some energy work, right, like there's just a little balance of both. But when we do both of those things and we do it strategically, it's amazing how quickly things progress. And that's one of the beautiful things I think about hidden grief work is we often are scared of it, but as soon as we open ourselves up to the process, it's like oh, oh, wow, why didn't I do this sooner? And I've had many clients come to me and go. I don't know why I put this off. I was like afraid of what was gonna come up. I was afraid of how it's gonna impact my family or my relationships or myself. I was afraid it's gonna change how I was and I'm realizing now Everything's enhanced in the most positive ways and I have way less stress on my shoulders, I'm able to connect and be present even more, like there's just more benefits than Consequences to dealing with hidden grief. Okay, so that sums up today's talk. If you're interested in working on Hidden Grief, you know where to find me you can go down the description below and look at how to work together. And also, of course, the Stressless Society. We're going to be dealing with Hidden Grief, don't worry. And before we finish up, I want to share with you a great review that the podcast received, and I'm so grateful for this. Garmatron in Australia says love hearing the calming tones of Katie, coupled with her sage advice on actioning positive change in your life and living your best life. The length of the episodes is manageable. Yep, that's important to me as well, so you can fit the listen easily into your busy schedule. Love this for anyone who is committed to making life better for yourself and those around you. Thank you so much, garmatron. I mean you picked out exactly. What was important to me is that the length of these episodes makes sense to those of us who have a busy schedule but want to learn tools to have better balance in our lives. So I really appreciate that. If you have a moment after listening to this episode, please leave the podcast a review and a rating, or share it with somebody you know who needs to listen to this message too. Well, we've wrapped up. Now we know three ways that Hidden Grief is adding to your stress, and here's to finding our balance code. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. If you have a moment, please leave a rating or review so that others can find this podcast who are looking for support, just like you. Let's connect on Instagram at katiewrestler or at balance code podcast, or check down in the show notes to find ways that we can work together and see other offerings that I have for you at this time. And, as always, here's to finding our balance code.