Coping with Grief and Loss – a Process

We all suffer from loss in our lives. Sometimes the loss relates to transitions through life that are normal and expected states of growth and development such as moving from childhood, through the teenage years, and then into the adult responsibilities that confront most people. Though this is a difficult transition, we must all face this if we live past our 18th birthday. There are more serious or traumatic losses that many of us encounter such as the death of close family member or friend, the loss of health due to accident or illness, the loss of an important relationship, or possibly the loss experienced with a career change or loss of a job. These are difficult times and hard lessons to experience in the course of life. These losses, though potentially painful, can be times of learning and personal growth. Many of these transitions can be less distracting and with a greater potential for learning if you have a positive support network. Here is the dilemma. Most people do not have a network of healthy, positive supporters to allow for movement through difficult transitions with grace and healing perspectives.

We can learn from our painful transitions and losses. We can wade through these changes more gracefully, and possibly with less discomfort, if we have the best team of support surrounding us. Some people look for professional counselors or coaches, or perhaps clergy to help with difficult transitions. Some of us have personal mentors who can be trusted and who have the necessary communication skills to assist in times of need. Some of us have healthy relationships, friends or family who can help without too much of their own “baggage.” Many people do not have enough access to the positive supporters who can help us through the grief that life throws at us.

There are many books and potential sources of information which help us to understand the process of dealing with loss and grief but for most people reading about the grief process is not enough. We need to be supported by a personalized experience that we can gather around us as we muddle our way through our emotional and spiritual pains of loss. We need to be “touched” by the proper support in many ways. We need to be allowed our grief and yet “called on it” when we have gone past the limit and start the “wallowing process.” We need to find the exact, personalized process to assist in managing the stress, anxiety, pain, confusion, and the “emptiness” of replacing the part of ourselves which has been lost with the more experienced and empowered person who has survived a major change/loss/growth… Do not miss the opportunity to build a support network of “healthy” and available people. You never know when a need will arise for this special support.

Each of us need to find the best way to learn our lesson and then to move on into our new, restructured life. We need to learn the best way to take care of ourselves, benefit from the lessons, and then discover the most appropriate directions to move our new life. To do this, we need to find people we can trust and invest the resources into the process of self-care and self-development so we can move down the path that leads to our goals. This is easier said than done, but if you realize that you would survive this transition more easily and possibly more quickly with positive assistance then you must do the work and find the correct support you require.

In the future, we will be expanding and releasing information regarding a new program which can assist most people in developing an individualized transition plan. We are beginning to build a process for creating a positive support network which will enable participants to discover their strengths, accept their weakness or flaws, and to free up energy to invest for moving toward positive goals and enhanced lifestyles. The working title for this process is “Finding Your Tone.”

Please comment or send questions to the Stress Education Center at wellness@dstress.com or visit the website at www.dstress.com.

Change Happens: Change & Transition Management

Life change is unavoidable. The pace of change has increased to a record rate with the latest innovations and information technologies. Our body’s primitive response mechanism has not been able to keep pace and we are living with “overwhelm” as a daily companion. We do not have time to adapt at a genetic level, so we must learn to use behavioral adaptations to survive and thrive.

Each of us is a unique person with our unique habitual response to stress. Some of us respond to stress with anger, frustration, rage, or fear. Some of us get “uptight” and hold tension in our jaws, necks, shoulders, backs, or legs. Some of us want to run away as a response. Sometimes we tighten our stomachs, hold our breath, feel our heart racing, our blood pressure may rise, or our hands and feet may get cold. Sometimes we withdraw as if we could hide from the dangers of newness of our transitions.

When we do not have any “control” over the transition and it is an “important” issue, then our stress levels increase. Our body responds, in the only way that it can, as if we were in a life or death situation. We must learn that in life’s interactions, the only thing that we can control is our response to the event. If this situation is important to us, it is best if we can have some input in the change process. We must understand our role and importance of our contribution to the larger picture. And finally, we must be meticulous with our self-care.

If stress comes from an unclear picture of what the transition entails and what our role in this transition will be, then we can respond with fear and resistance which can hurt the project and often our credibility. Communication with higher ups, peers, and the personnel we must manage is critical. Make sure everyone really understands their value, their role, and their contribution to the success of the project. Honesty is essential. Open conversations about the fears of the new or the grieving of the things that have had to change to make way for the new policy or procedure. Dealing with these issues will enroll the participants more successfully.

In a perfect world, there would be time to honor all of these necessary steps for positive transitions, but often the reality is less complete. We must develop strong, uncompromising habits for personal survival and self-care. This might include non-negotiable time for exercise and stress management practice. It would include patterns during stressful transitions where there is enough time for sleep/rest and proper nutrition. Simplify your expectations and distractions. It may not be the best time to take on new projects that would add to the stress like: remodeling the house, moving, new relationships, or large family or social commitments. In other words, use your best common sense and do not over do non-essential activities.

Consider using the following checklist of eight tools for managing major transitions more gracefully.
Tips for Surviving Change

1. Self-Care Daily! See and Use the suggestions from the Ten Timely Tips article (at “articles page” of www.dstress.com.) Self-care is the single most important ingredient to maintaining balance as you go through transitions and change. Proper diet, exercise, and regular relaxations will allow you to be more productive with a higher quality of life!

2. Communicate. Keep yourself from falling into the pitfalls of life by giving and getting feedback about every major concern (change/transition) you are dealing with. Remember, listening is the most important part of communicating. Ask for clarification, so you can make good decisions.

3. Planning… Be Prepared. A productive journey through life’s transitions can not occur gracefully without a plan. Long range goals can keep short-term setbacks from defeating you in major ways. Focus on your long term goals regularly to keep you focused and moving ahead. Plan in every area of life: Finance, self-care, education, relationship, emotional growth, creativity/aesthetic, and spiritual development.

4. Develop Positive Support Mechanisms. If you want to survive, in good health, you need to have proper feedback and support. The “Family” is not always the best place. Friends and professional counselors can sometimes be the best venue for honesty and appropriate support.

5. Develop Positive Rewards. Small and large rewards along your way help make motivation easier, especially with large, long-term goals. A real heartfelt pat on your own back with achieving a reward makes the difficulties easier to bear.

6. Use and Develop Your Humor! Positive Attitudes Really Help! Difficulties, when viewed as opportunities for growth and proving your abilities, are less harmful. But do not bury your anger, fear or sadness.

7. Deal with the Dilemma of Diversity! Every change throws you into a position of dealing with new people, teams, attitudes, emotional “stretches” and more new obstacles. Learning acceptance (through self-care) can help you to make the necessary adjustments and get along faster toward productivity and higher performance. There will always be a contrary attitude around, accept that other opinions exist and you are entitled to your own.

8. Maintain Balance in Your Life! Prioritize, acknowledge, celebrate, and follow through on every area of life, including your emotional and spiritual needs.

© L. John Mason, Ph.D. Stress Education Center and Dstress.com

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at http://www.dstress.com for articles, free blog, and learn about the new courses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.

10 Steps to Manage Anger in the Workplace

1. Identify who is angry
Train your managers and employees to identify the behaviors that can signal an anger challenged co-worker and have a positive system that will report these behaviors to management for further investigation. Do not wait.

2. Identify why they are angry
Interview reporting staff to determine whether indications warrant further review. Interview subject to determine why they may be angry at work. Offer positive solutions for individual stress and anger control or refer to EAP if appropriate and available.

3. Find solutions to organizations’ culture as it pertains to anger
Do not stick your head in the sand. Tackle the possible organizational issues that may be creating the stress and anger within your organization and work to solve these challenges.

4. Train leaders to create a culture of civility
Leadership comes from the top down and must address the issues with resolve. If anger is inbred in an organization’s leaders this becomes a difficult but important concern. The costs of anger are too high, in the long run, for an organization to be most productive and long standing. Retention of key personnel becomes an issue, if the leadership creates a culture that tolerates, or encourages, anger in the work place. Legal issues will also become an issue that cuts profits and productivity.

5. Train managers to identify anger and manage teams/individuals with issues
Managers require training, support, and good leadership. Coaching or mentoring managers, especially new managers who have risen from technical backgrounds, becomes an essential ingredient for most successful organizations. This will also reduce turn-over, sabotage, and legal challenges.

6. Train employees to control their stress and anger appropriately
Give all of your employees the tools they need to manage their own individual stresses and anger. Do not assume that they will learn civility and self-management outside of work. Though this requires time, resources, and management attention, it will pay off in increased organizational productivity and employee loyalty.

7. Manage organizational stress and transition management
Learn how to manage your organizations transitions and help your executives and employees survive the stress at work. This will prevent problems and create an environment where positive performance can thrive.

8. Create an anger management program for individuals with clear goals
When someone has an identified anger management challenge, it may be a great management decision to assist your personnel with a anger management program rather than replacing these people or expecting and outside agency to fix your “problem.” Programs can be tailored for your specific requirements. Some have a 2 day seminar and individual coaching if individuals require additional support. Other organizations may have on-going, and mandatory, groups for people identified with anger challenges. External coaches or therapists are often hired for these programs so confidentiality does not become an issue in the work environment.

9. Take immediate action: Zero tolerance of anger and violence
Tolerating anger displays or violence is dangerous. It can send the wrong message and opening your organization up to harassment law suits. Leaders must be strong with this Zero Tolerance.

10. Offer ways to speak out safely about issues to prevent anger and violence (be open to creative solutions)
Create venues that allow people to be heard. Respect diversity of opinion. Create a safe way to express appropriate levels of stress and frustration. Always look to build a better environment and culture.
To implement these principles can require resolve and leadership. Many organizations require coaching and consulting to make these deep changes to their culture. The pay-off can be found in increased productivity, loyalty, and more creativity to problem solving.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free newsletter signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.

If you are looking to promote your training or coaching career, please investigate the Professional Stress Management Training and Certification Program for a secondary source of income or as career path.