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Bill Bergeman


11 Specific Steps to Bounce Back After a Difficult Loss

Here's a daily routine I followed when I had to bounce back from a huge loss several years ago. A difficult loss can include losing a job, a failed relationship, a business going under, the death of a loved one, or anything else that causes a sense of mental, physical, financial, or emotional loss.

The key themes amongst these ideas are to stay active and to increase your energy level - both things that tend to decline when we feel down.

    1. Wake up at 5:00 am.

    Waking up early allows you to access the energy reserves early in the day that you built up overnight. Sleeping late wastes that energy as you will have less time in the day to use it for whatever you need to do. Waking up early is less about increasing productivity (though it will) and more about accessing your deepest energy reserves at the most optimal time of day.

    If you're still unsure about waking up early, ask yourself this simple question: Will I feel better about my loss if I sleep in or if I wake up early?

    2. Lift weights for 20 minutes.

    Lifting weights does it all - it gets the blood flowing to your extremities, including your brain so you will start to think more quickly and clearly. Your fascia and muscles will begin to awaken and loosen, which will help you physically feel more alive.

    3. Sprint for two miles.

    While lifting weights has many benefits, doing something to physically tax the cardiovascular system to the extreme will initially be tiring but will quickly turn into a huge energy boost.

    4. Take a relaxing hot shower, ending with 30 seconds of cold water.

    You worked hard, now enjoy a relaxing shower. But, not too relaxing. The cold water shot at the end of the shower is designed to wake you up again and get your blood flowing. It also helps to develop the habit of attacking your fears head-on, because let's face it: no one wants to stand under a cold shower for any amount of time, but doing it consistently will make you mentally stronger.

    5. Journal, reflect, and grow.

    Now that we've moved our bodies and boosted our mental and physical energy, it's time to reflect on where we're at in life. Challenging losses present opportunities for positive growth, but only after understanding what went wrong in the first place.

    How much of the loss was your responsibility? Is there anything you could have done differently? What would you do if presented with the same situation again? How can you mitigate the loss? This is the time to consider these things, and journaling about them is a great way to process such thoughts and emotions.

    6. Read an engaging book that changes your perspective on something.

    Time for a perspective shift, and reading a great book that edifies you is an excellent place to start. Self-help-type books are fine, but just be sure whatever you read is engaging and inspiring.

    7. Drink coffee!

    There is no better (legal) elixir in the world to get you feeling good! Just don't overdo it. A moderate amount goes a long way.

    8. Connect with a person or community you care about.

    Being with someone, or a group of people, with whom you connect, increases oxytocin which in turn will help you feel better. It also helps to share your concerns about the loss with others so you don't feel like you are alone on this difficult path.

    9. Help someone. With anything.

    It seems paradoxical to expend your limited energy on helping others during a time when you need help, but when we help people - and it can be as small as helping someone move a piece of furniture - it releases the big three happy chemicals: serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. You will quickly forget about your own woes and instead place your focus on helping someone with theirs.

    10. Take a walk somewhere in public where you can make eye contact and smile at other people.

    Similar to helping someone, when you connect with strangers by merely walking by, making eye contact, smiling, and even saying 'hello.' those happy chemicals will start to flood your system because your body thinks you are positively connecting with another human being.

    11. When in doubt, be active. Don't sit on the couch and fall into a malaise.

    If all else fails, just get up and move. When we experience loss, the easiest thing in the world to do is to sit alone in the dark and stew over our sorry situation. It's our body's way of conserving energy. Don't do it! Move, be active, take a walk, make a phone call, write an idea list, clean the house, do anything but sit around.

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