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4 ways to overcome grief and not let your business suffer

Sonal Mishra
14th Mar 2017
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What is grief? Grief is a common phenomenon that can occur over the death of a loved one, financial losses, work stress, family problems, or any other major issues in life. The amount of grief that each individual experiences for similar situations is different. While some people have innate abilities to go through a lot of stressors and still come out strong, for others even small mishaps can be extremely challenging. A BDA study has found out that 47 percent of all the employees stated that stress of a personal problem had a direct and sometimes lasting impact on their work performance.

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For example, when a person loses a near one, the emotional experience can be traumatic, and that emotional state can pertain for a longer period if not dealt with. For example, Sheryl Sandberg’s effort to open the deep fog of grief with her Facebook post was greeted with an outpouring of emotion online. This helped her face the demons in her closet and emerge as a stronger individual.

The state of grief for entrepreneurs and business professionals can be worse given the full-time responsibilities of the business as well as the employees working for them. Unlike professional stressors, personal turmoil needs an individual to slow down and balance emotions, which may or may not be possible with day-to-day chaos. However, with the right approach and a good team, you can always make sure that your business stays afloat unless you are ready to hit the surface again.

For those who have great difficulty in finding ways to cope with grief, here are a few ways which could help you overcome grief without affecting your business.

Be approachable

Being in the state of grief can cause a person to withdraw into a shell. The emotional experience can be so difficult that people start avoiding new situations and curtail their activities to bare minimum. Findings from empirical studies in the European Management Journal demonstrate the utility of openness in explaining the firm's performance by showing strong reliability, appropriate dimensionality, convergent, discriminant, and nomological validity. Maintaining a basic social life can do wonders in improving the situation.

At work, don’t restrict yourself from communicating with your employees even if the sadness of loss is evident from your conduct. Be open to people and help them sail through day to day operations. At the end of the day, you are the captain of your ship, and seeing it go downhill because of an obstacle would only demotivate you further.

Stay active and healthy

Being in a state of continuous grief can build up a lot of hatred, anger, and sadness that can last anywhere from a week to months and even years, in extreme conditions. Writing for Thrive Global, Dr Kelly Morrow-Baez, a health motivation coach, says “grief is a type of long-term stress and can trigger higher than normal levels of the stress hormone cortisol which causes insomnia, depression, heart disease, and decreased digestive and immune function.” Physical exercise is one helpful means of coping for most people. Nerve function during exercise relieves a lot of pent up emotional energy inside and leads to the release of endorphins, which reduces the effect of grief and creates a healthier, happier state.

Acknowledge and process

While coming out of a tragic situation a lot of people try to keep their mind occupied with work. However, trying to ignore your pain or keeping it from surfacing only makes the situation worse in the long run. According to John Sarno MD, former professor at New York University School of Medicine and a bestselling author, repressing of emotions and other stress situations leads to different types of body pain.

Take your own time to process the event without any fear of being judged or rejected. Feeling sad, lonely, or frightened is a normal reaction to loss. You don’t need to put on a brave face to protect your closed ones. Sometimes, accepting the situation, letting go, and moving on is the only way to cope up with trying situations.

Get support

In a study by former NIMH director Thomas Insel, it was found that depression is a major cause of mental disability worldwide and was among the top reasons for the shutdown of most startups. For starters, it is absolutely fine to admit that you need a support system to make it through the time of need. The situation could be a lot worse for sole founders of a business. Sharing your plight with a strong peer group of friends and family members outside work is a good way to deal with life’s problems. If necessary, seek professional help to work through your grief. A professional counsellor can help you find a better perspective to the problem.

According to the American Hospice Foundation, it is important for managers to understand that grief is a healing process and not a weakness. Whatever the level of grief a person is going through, it is necessary to find different ways to cope up with it, and even after all the effort, if you are still not able to keep your head in the game or don’t want to risk investor meetings that could have lasting repercussions, it is always better to postpone. Be honest with your team and start delegating the tasks that can’t wait or need some serious analysis. Take your time to return to the surface. Your team mates and colleagues can definitely help you keep your business afloat.

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