3 Steps to Effectively Handle the Stress of Loss

There are many life situations that trigger stress, but one of the main sources is loss. It could be as simple as the loss of a sale or a favored object, or as significant as the loss of a project, job, business or money. Or even the biggest loss: The loss of a loved one.

But the actual loss is not the direct cause of stressful feelings, rather it’s the meaning you are making about the loss. After you decide whether the loss is beneficial or detrimental — good or bad — your body kicks in with the appropriate hormones that cause you to feel good or bad, happy or stressed.

For instance, there are two ways to look at losing a sale: It’s a good thing because that person was a jerk and would have been a terrible customer. OR, it’s a bad thing because I need the money and now what will I do?

If you decide it’s a bad thing, you get stressed out, and the more you focus on all the reasons it is bad, the worse you feel and the longer you get stuck in the stress.

The problem with staying stressed is that it’s detrimental to your health — stress impairs your immune system making you vulnerable to diseases — and it’s detrimental to your effectiveness. Stressed out people make mistakes, overlook details, have more accidents and are often short-tempered.

The good news is that you can change your perspective, thus change your stress levels and effectiveness. Here are three techniques for doing that:

1. Look for the silver lining. Whether or not you can see it immediately, every event that happens has something good that comes from it. Since it can be difficult to see the good while in the middle of a stressful event, revisit a past difficult experience looking for all the good stuff that came from it. Then as you move forward from the current stressful event, start noticing the little blessings it offers.

2. Play the “What If” game. This can be a very effective way to shift your energy from focusing on the lost to focusing on new opportunity. Here’s an example of how to do it:

  • What if this sale had turned bad causing me a lot of headache?
  • What if I would have lost a lot of money on this deal and was spared that loss?
  • What if losing this sale freed up my time for a better sale?
  • What if my next sale is from a fabulous customer who refers new business to me?

3. Focus on the value of what you had while you had it, rather than on what you lost. Remember the good times with fondness and be grateful for having those memories. Make an appreciation journal filled with all the good memories of your life, and when you hit little speed bumps, whip out the journal to remind yourself about what’s good in your life.

Regardless of your source of stress, you don’t have to stay stressed-out. The sooner you shift your perspective about what happened from being a negative to a positive, the sooner you can let go of the stressful thoughts that prevent you from being your best.

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