COVID-19: Tackle The Fear of Loss of Jobs
With time and the right coping techniques, one can come to terms with these setbacks, ease the stress, anxiety and move on constructively to generate solutions.
With this pandemic and an almost global lockdown comes a ripple effect and aftermath of tremendous human consequences. In the last few weeks, we have seen a significant impact on financial markets, businesses, start-ups, daily wage workers, migrant labourers, international corporates, and vulnerable industries such as tourism, hospitality, travel and manufacturing.
However behind all these lies the human cost of the pandemic - from families being torn apart, in some situations, stranded in different parts of the world; worries about aged or ailing parents and not being able to visit or provide basic provisions or medications to them. Some families are battling marital discord, stress with in-laws or dealing with physical or verbally abusive relationships. Professionals in the forefront like doctors, physicians, and surgeons who are in the front lines and thus have to serve their duties, are struggling with the tough choice, conflict and dilemma of serving their patients or putting themselves and their families at risk by doing so.
Not knowing how this pandemic will play out - affects our economical, social, physical and psychological well-being against the backdrop of this insidious COVID -19 that is increasingly creating panic, anxiety, depression, isolation and loneliness amongst thousands and thousands of individual and their families. What we all are facing as a common, underlying precipitating factor is the Fear of the Unknown.
What’s now going to be the next national and global challenge is dealing with thousands if not more people who will be forced to take salary cuts and lose their jobs as industries, corporates, businesses, and startups are dealing with major setbacks and losses themselves.
Our professions and jobs are far beyond just a way of making a living, putting food on the table, educating our children or earning for recreation and retirement.
They influence our self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence. They influence how we perceive ourselves and how others see us.
Jobs give Individuals a sense of purpose and meaning in life. It allows us to follow our dreams and passions and do what we love doing.
It keeps individuals intellectually challenged and stimulated and allows for social networking, teamwork and peer interaction.
It gives us structure and discipline to our days, weeks and months. It allows us to enjoy our breaks and holidays far more as we feel they’ve been meaningfully earned.
Work and earnings provide a deep sense of Security- emotional, psychological and financial - for spouses, families and children.
That’s why the fear and anxiety of losing a job, or a job loss itself with unemployment can be so anxiety-provoking, stressful and life-altering
When one loses work it is initially received with a lot of denial, shock, disbelief. It is normal to feel angry, hurt, let down or betrayed. One feels that they’ve lost everything - which leads to a lot of insecurity, anxiety, panic and fears for the future, leaving one with a hundred unanswered questions in one’s own mind.
But no matter how devastating your losses seem at these times, there is always hope. With time and the right coping techniques, one can come to terms with these setbacks, ease the stress, anxiety and move on constructively to generate solutions.
What one needs to do though is -
1)Think of this as a temporary setback affecting most people globally. This is not about you and not being effective at work or being let down by your employers. These are very difficult times for all and thus certain decisions and setbacks will be inevitable. Most very successful people too have experienced setbacks in their careers or jobs and have turned things around in time. This phase will pass too. One has to believe that.
2)Don’t be hard on yourself and give your self-time. Time helps to process, accepting and adjusting to the grief and anxiety of the unemployment or setbacks within the job. Employees who have received serious salary cuts may in time feel relieved that they at least have a job.
3)Expressing and talking about what you are going through and sharing your feelings with someone becomes very important at this stage. Talking helps unload one's burden and may help looking at the situation realistically from another’s perspective and may generate new, solution-focused thoughts. Writing thoughts down into a journal or diary may also help to express or create new ideas.
4)Be vigilant and cognisant that one doesn’t slide into a victim's role of self-pity and dysfunction. It is natural to feel embarrassed or ashamed, but Look out for symptoms such as social withdrawal, negative or depressive thoughts, low or irritable moods, suicidal ideations, panic attacks, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness; or changes with eating or sleeping patterns. When one is experiencing these symptoms please reach out to a mental health professional or a counselor. Sometimes talking to a professional who is a stranger to you, may provide some unbiased and nonjudgemental insights and coping mechanisms which always help.
5)Looking after yourself first. In order to take charge and be responsible for the ones we love - our families, parents, spouses or children; and initiate thoughts or plans for the future, we need to look after ourselves first both physically and mentally. Stress reduces immunity and thus we’re more prone to contracting infections or getting unwell. Thus creating a very robust time table and schedule become imperative. Eating and sleeping right, finding ways to exercise at home and making sure there’s downtime to speak with friends or family, listening to music and watching your favourite shows, pursuing your hobbies, cooking, painting and gaming with your kids or young ones at home - all become important ways to look after our mental health. These are essential stress busters at times such as these.
6)Initiate new social contacts, networks and communication channels. Revamp resumes, Social networking profiles, circulate them, find online resources for new jobs or opportunities and speak to friends and peers. Take up some classes, training or certified courses. This is the best time to learn new things or update different skills.
7)Prosocial behaviors and volunteering- helps with self-esteem and make one feel useful, meaningful and purposeful. Helping and kindness also generate more empathy, negate depressive or negative feelings, reduces stress and provides a sense of security. Helping others doesn’t have to be monetary based or human being based. May individuals volunteer for animal or nature-based causes. Research has also shown that helping others can produce a feel-good neurotransmitter called oxytocin in the brain.
8)Reflection and spirituality at the time such as these are extremely important for self-growth and psychological well-being. Accepting reality, embarking upon healthier coping mechanisms, communicating and reflecting help. Avoid criticisms, negative obsessive thoughts or self-blame and focus the mind on what you have learned through each of these experiences. These times give a chance to reflect on what you may want out of life and relationships, your purpose and goals, your wants and needs, your strengths and weaknesses, your loved ones and priorities. Each experience teaches us something and starts generating resilience and perseverance- which are the two most important strengths to generate and build upon. Focus on positive psychology - one's strengths, attributes, personality traits, accomplishments and various achievements, small or big. This helps with refreshing the mind and instilling hope and optimism.
9)Look into the financial aspects of your self and the family. Speak to health insurance agencies, your human response department, accountant or CA, to generate different options or innovate ways to budget, plan, save, invest or spend.
10)Mindfulness and Gratitude - Focusing the thoughts, mind, and body on the ‘present ‘ moment in time and taking each day as it comes. Constantly obsessing on the unpredictable future which is unknown, will only generate more negative thoughts and anxiety. Mindfulness also helps us react to our misfortunes with grace, acceptance, and maturity. Gratitude allows us to notice the smallest of things in our lives that we usually take for granted. It highlights the many blessings that we already possess and distracts us away from the struggles that we face.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house