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Celebrating the little wins - what productivity looks like when grieving

29 June 2020

When in grief, it can feel like there are no wins. Like each day is a battle. Like every small action is a huge, insurmountable challenge. It can feel like we’ll never move on from this place. It’s at this time, that we need to focus on the small, but important, little wins in our day. Celebrating even the smallest achievement can help us to take one more step forward. And it’s those little wins, consistently that help us move forward.

As the world has recently been experiencing a collective grief due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s made this activity even more important. For some, there is personal grief of loss, as well as the wider feeling of loss as our lives changed dramatically overnight. But even in this time, we can choose to see the little steps forward each day.

Here are just some of the little wins you can celebrate and please do share yours with us. We would like to celebrate with you.


Walking outside

This seems so simple but in the moments of grief or sadness, it can be truly daunting. It’s the first tip we get from loved ones when we’re struggling, “go for a walk”. It’s just not always that easy.

Set yourself a small goal. Walk out onto the front step. Walk outside, close the door and be outside.

If you feel good, great! Walk to the front gate. Another win to celebrate.

If you’re still feeling good, walk to the end of the street.

Whatever goal you choose to set, the first part is always taking that one step. Don’t even worry about shoes initially. Just take that step out of the door and stand out in the world. You can then work on building up to walking and strolling as it really is beneficial for your mental health.

But for now, celebrate that win. I walked out of my house! Wonderful.

Completing a puzzle

Whether it’s a 200 piece, a 1000 piece or a 5000 piece, completing a puzzle can be a huge win. While we’ve all been at home more, the puzzles have taken off and everyone seems to be pulling them out of the games cupboard.

Everyone has a different strategy for puzzles, but the greatest thing about them is that even one piece at a time, you’re getting closer to the full picture. You can have it on the table and just spend one minute as you walk past slotting a piece into place. If you’ve got more time, you can get stuck in for an hour. The whole family can join in too and each person can put down a piece when they’re in the puzzle area.

It’s the ultimate step by step activity. It takes concentration, patience and can greatly help with mindfulness. Focusing on one piece at a time and slowly but surely, the picture will come together. For a simple but satisfying win, why not begin a puzzle.

Reaching out to a friend

Asking for help and reaching out for assistance can be challenging. It seems so simple, calling and speaking to people is something that’s become part of our day to day. But in grief, it can feel overwhelming and we may not know where to start. However, talking to a friend can greatly help to shift us out of our headspace and into the present.

Calling a friend doesn’t mean we have to have a long-winded chat. The act of doing it can be enough to break the cycle. And maybe it’s simply calling them to say, can you call me from time to time. This is a great step forward and definitely a win to celebrate.

If you have a friend in grief, understand this may be hard for them and they may not be able to reach out. So send a text or give them a call to let them know you’re thinking of them. Even if they don’t want to chat, they’ll appreciate that they have the option and it makes reaching out that bit easier for them

Starting a new hobby

Has there always been that thing you love doing but never have time for? This could be the time to start. When we’re grieving, it’s important to remember what makes us happy. That could be gardening, baking, trekking, dancing, painting or colouring.

There might be a hobby that you’d always thought about but never had the chance to try. Hobbies give us something else to think about and focus on. They take us away from the everyday chores and let us be in the moment, dedicated to one activity.

Like with all of these things, start small. Perhaps it’s buying the kit to build the model plane. Perhaps it’s signing up to the dance class membership. Maybe it’s researching about knitting support groups. Remember the things you love doing and use this time to start trying.

Cooking a meal

Whether it’s tasty or not your finest hour, preparing and cooking a meal is a great win. It takes planning, focus and patience. These things can be challenging when in grief but also helpful as they get us to be present in the moment.

It might turn out to be delicious, especially if it’s a recipe you know and love. It could also turn out to be one for the do not repeat list. But either way, the process of making the meal and getting to the end where you sit down and enjoy that’s a win in itself.

Start with a toasted sandwich and work your way up to a slow roasted lamb pub-like meal. You’ll be grateful for the time you spend in the cooking zone.

Again, none of this is easy and when in grief even the smallest things can seem impossible. But if we start to recognise and celebrate each of those little achievements, we’ll be able to tackle a little more each day.

Be kind to yourself at this time and go slowly. We look forward to hearing about your wins.

If you need support and would like to look at some gentle activities with guidance, visit the Centre for Care and Wellbeing page support.