This has been a very sad week in the United States and it seems like the epicenter of sadness is Orlando, Florida.
You may have found yourself struggling to focus on the work you needed to get done or maybe wondering if your work even matters considering the heartbreaking events that went on this week.
Because this won’t be the only sad week we face while growing our businesses I thought I’d share some tips you might find useful. And believe me, I’m talking to myself here as much as I’m sharing this with you.
- Turn off the news. The media provides 24-7 coverage of carnage and it can truly become overwhelming. So once you’ve gotten the minimum amount of details to consider yourself informed turn it off and don’t turn it back on. That goes for websites as well as TV, radio, and any other piece of technology that would deliver the news.
- Cut back – WAY back – on your social media exposure. Only get involved at the minimum level you may feel you need to. But I encourage you to even think about completely disengaging and only venting your emotions through email with very trusted friends. Social media will expose you to crackpots, trolls, and the dark side of people you’d otherwise not see. Don’t look.
- Review your to-do list. I’m sure you’re overwhelmed with work as I am, so one good thing to do is focus on the top things that need to be done. And if you know you’re struggling to stay focused or you’re feeling overwhelmed by emotions, then concentrate on those must-do tasks that are truly time-sensitive and revenue generating. Push off for a few days anything that can truly wait.
- Tune into your feelings. Recognize what you’re feeling and admit you’re feeling it. Those feelings are perfectly valid, especially if you’re an introverted entrepreneur. Don’t let one person tell you that you’re over-reacting. Reflect though on what you are feeling and gently ask yourself why you’re reacting so deeply. It could be that you’re a parent who can empathize with the anguish of those who lost a child this week. I automatically think about the siblings those who passed away left behind. When I do that, I lose it thinking about how much I love my own siblings and how out of my mind I’d feel if anything ever happened to them. So think about what’s being triggered and trust that it’s ok to feel those feelings. You’re human.
- Be kind to yourself. Play with your pets. Get in touch with nature. Have a workout and really push yourself (When I was back home in South Jersey and I was upset, I used to love to box with my trainer). But if you feel the need to sleep, do that too. Bake (another favorite stress-reliever of mine). Do whatever you need to in order to stay emotionally healthy. And if that means hiding posts from certain people on Facebook then do it.
- Police your self-talk. My feelings this week have been similar to those I felt on September 11. 2001, the day the towers came down and the other planes crashed. This week I had to be extra vigilant that I didn’t just think over and over about those poor parents who lost their toddler. So I forced myself to become more aware and when it popped in my head, I’d say a prayer for them instead. I figured that’s more productive than just thinking about it and upsetting myself.
- Do something. As entrepreneurs – take-action kind of people – our first thought is “I have to DO something!” So do that. It’s part of your natural soothing process. Give blood. Hang a rainbow flag outside of your home or office. Make a donation. Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper in Orlando and let them know you’re with them. Pray. Pray A LOT. Better yet, organize a prayer vigil in your community. Tell LGBT folks you love them and stand by them. Ask a local LGBT group what would be helpful. Organize an interfaith discussion of differences. In helping others heal we often heal ourselves.
- Resist the temptation to judge others. There’s a lot of victim shaming and even parent shaming going on right now. And I’ve even see others shame people who they feel aren’t demonstrating enough sadness. Each of us grieves differently and we all have a right to our feelings. Some people want to talk about it and others don’t. Be respectful but at the same time protect your emotional health too.
The biggest thing you can do is to go on. To continue to market your offerings, plan your next event, send out invoices. Evil wins when we become frozen in fear and sadness. Refuse to give in to fear. Period.
Continuing to work doesn’t mean you’re not a kind, generous human being. It means you’re an indomitable entrepreneur for whom work can be a solace as well as a tribute to the spirit of those lost.