Our jobs are the way we earn our living. But at the same time, it is so much more. It is an expression of our financial independence; it gives us a sense of purpose and an outlet for our knowledge; it makes us feel that our skills are worth something. Suddenly finding ourselves out of our jobs can give rise to feelings of stress and anxiety. This study by BBC talks about how job loss affects psychological well-being. In times of pandemic, this stress amplifies due to a lot of reasons.
Coping with Stress
As global economic activity has come to a standstill, millions of people around the world are coping with job loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment, whether temporary or permanent, can lead to depression, stress, anxiety, and other mental health problems. But we must remember that no problem is permanent and there is a silver lining to every dark cloud hovering over us. But to address the stress job loss can cause, we have to identify and address each issue separately.
Jobs are the primary way of earning your living. For some of us, we sustain ourselves with our salaries, but for many people, it's the instrument of sustenance for their whole family. Reduced income would make it difficult to pay for basic necessities; there has to be cut in spending, affecting the way of living. Coping with this new way of life might bring on added stress.
How can you cope with financial instability?
- Make a budget:
Creating a budget and trying to stick strictly to it will help you stay within boundaries. Also, suddenly finding yourself out of money and thus the inability to buy certain things may cause a panic. Creating a budget and plan from beforehand will make sure that does not happen.
- Cut unnecessary expenses:
A lot of things we buy are not necessities. Some of the things are such that we do not even use it more than once or twice. While practicing minimalistic living is good at all times, during times of hardships like this, it is all the more imperative to cut down on inessential shopping and stick mostly to the necessities.
- Avoid a physically harmful lifestyle:
Good health is the biggest wealth you can have. Succumbing to substance abuse (drugs, smoking, alcohol) and another unhealthy lifestyle will seem like an attractive and easy solution. But in the long run, it only adds more to stress (as well as expenses). Practicing a simple and healthy way of living is goodwill to develop both your physical as well as mental health.
*You may also want to read: How to Deal with a Breakup during Quarantine?
Feeling of Low Self-Esteem
Unemployment is one of the leading causes of depression and emotional distress. Our jobs are more than just a way to earn our bread. It reflects how the world sees us as well as how we see ourselves. A sudden loss of job and not being able to bring home living or contribute to society might leave us feeling hollow.
How can you deal with feelings of lack of purpose and low self-esteem?
- Be kind to yourself:
You must not have thoughts like you have been laid off because you are not worthy of the job. In these times of pandemic, the companies are losing customers and business. They are facing huge losses. So, they must make cost-cuts. In case you have been laid-off, it is in no way your fault or a lack of skills on your part.
While not blaming oneself is easier said than done, you must always remember that if you have the set of skills to bag the job once, you can do it again. In the days to come, you will settle down with the use of your skills, once again.
- Accept the reality:
Losing a job can feel overwhelming. You might not want to accept the reality of it. But you have to face it, living in denial will only hold you back from moving on. But as soon as you accept the reality, you can start developing new skills and become an even better prospect for upcoming jobs.
- Reach out:
In the event of a job loss, your natural reaction might be to feel embarrassment and withdrawal. But in times of stress, social contact works as an antidote. You must never underestimate the importance of the support that your friends and family can give you.
Communicating with other people is not just about seeking comfort or sympathy. Isolation can simply lead to ruminating and that will just amplify the feelings of anxiety or stress. You might want to simply talk to a good listener to calm down your nerves.
It might be beneficial to open up on platforms such as Now&Me where you will get help to cope with stress. You will get mental support and advice and at the same time, virtually meet people who are facing the same situation. When you realize that you are not alone, you can be of mutual help to each other to fight these tough times.
You may feel like you will be a burden or a weakling if you open up and ask for support. But as a matter of fact, most of your close ones will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them. If you open up on a platform where there are hundreds of others in the same situation, it will not only help you cope but also give them strength.
Job loss might lead to people resorting to unhealthy coping skills, like alcohol abuse or drug abuse. Even if we do not develop unhealthy habits, we tend to lose all hope, and just sit around and brood. This gives our minds a lot of free time. As the famous saying goes,
“An empty mind is a devil’s workshop”, the longer you brood, the more you will have negative thoughts.
So there forms a vicious cycle, where distressed emotional health leads to an unhealthy lifestyle which adds further to the emotional stress and so on.
How you can develop a healthy lifestyle?
- Exercise regularly:
Physical activities lead to the release of endorphins in your body, which reduces mental stress. A study by Harvard Medical School has discussed the logic behind why exercise can help you relax. Exercise in any form, for example, a short walk, a simple dance routine, or a few minutes of aerobics or yoga, have shown scientific evidence of reducing anxiety.
If you have a pet, you can try to go for a walk with him/her. If not, you can simply put on a pair of headphones and jog with the music. But you should try to get some fresh air. (Please remember to wear your mask and carry a sanitizer). If going outside for a walk is unsafe or not feasible, you can go to your balcony or roof to get some air.
You can try to find a peaceful corner of the house where you can work out, or you might just want to play some music and dance to it. But you should do some physical activity which will work as an outlet for your stress.
- Follow a routine:
Structuring your day can help cope with depression and anxiety. You should follow a routine of when you wake up, when you go to bed, when you eat, etc. This will keep your lifestyle healthy as well as mentally sound. You can make the most of your day by following a proper routine for maximum productivity.
You should make a to-do list of things you need to accomplish daily. It can be small things like cleaning your wardrobe or updating your resume or can be of a larger scale such as volunteer work or starting a new course. But instead of procrastinating, you should stick to your routine.
Your routine should not be a source of added stress, so remember to keep it light and allow yourself one or two cheat days in a week.
- Develop coping skills:
While we tend to move towards coping mechanisms like addictions and substance abuse, we should actually try to develop coping skills that are both healthy and beneficial in the long term.
You should start by practicing simple steps of self-care, like getting proper sleep, eating healthy, etc.
Other coping skills can include anything like writing down your feelings in a journal; practicing mindfulness and meditation; listening to soothing music; binge-watching your favorite shows or movies, etc.
While the job loss now seems to be a major standstill in your career, it is actually just a passing phase. Over-time new opportunities will come your way and you need to be prepared for it. In case an opportunity does not present itself to you, you have to present yourself to it. For that, you need to have a healthy body, a healthy mind, and proper skills.
- Focus on what is under your control:
The pandemic, the recession and the layoffs in your company are things not under your control. But what is more directly under your control is a healthy body and sound mind. For that, you need to practice self-care and coping mechanisms. This will make you ready to face any future prospects.
- Learn productive skills:
You should try to sharpen your existing skills, while at the same time develop new ones to make yourself more desirable for any position. There are educational platforms as well as YouTube videos that contain lectures about a vast number of topics. You can try to make use of that to sharpen your skills.
Networking is a good way to develop contacts with people who can work as a link between someone who is looking for a job and someone who is looking for an employee. So, you should concentrate on building mutually beneficial networks.
Edited by Annanya Chaturvedi