Almost daily, I’m conversing with people who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown caused by the pandemic or with people who know someone who has been furloughed or laid off.
As we watch the daily news headlines and even allow for some sensationalism level by the news channels, as they hourly loop the same stories, there can little question that many businesses who have closed their doors in recent months are simply not going to re-open. As a result, many people will, and are, losing their jobs.
However, significantly more concerning are the people taking their own lives due to losing their jobs and the worry and anxiety caused by feelings of hopelessness, uncertainty, worries about their family’s wellbeing, and total fear and uncertainty about the future. Just this morning, a lady messaged me to explain that she knew of 3 people who had committed suicide after losing their jobs.
These discussions and messages have led me to put together some tips and advice that I will share with you here. I hope that what follows will help you, or anyone you know who is worried about the loss of their job or concerned about their finances, finding a new job, their loss of status and self-worth, or even feeling low about no longer having a daily routine because they’re no longer going to work find some hope.
All of these worries can lead to feelings of shock, anger, and despair – which can soon become overwhelming and, ultimately, totally debilitating – in the worst case, you may decide enough is enough!
6 Steps to Keeping on Top of Your Anxiety
1. Accept how you’re feeling
Firstly, recognize that it’s ok to feel angry, shocked, sad, fearful, and worried. Rather than letting these feelings rule you, try removing the emotion. Take yourself off somewhere and write down each of the most powerful emotions you’re experiencing. Ask yourself: “Why am I feeling a sense of shock? Why am I feeling angry? What is creating this sense that everything is hopeless?” Take time to write down your answers and, in doing so, this should help you look at each of these feelings more objectively and less emotionally – if nothing else, you should feel calmer.
2. Identify what you can deal with
You can’t change the fact that COVID-19 is a reality, you can’t directly influence government policy surrounding lockdown, and you can’t change the fact you’ve lost your job or been furloughed. But, you can look at which aspects of your personal finances you might be able to cut back on. You can sit down with your partner and family and discuss a plan of action together or you can start to consider what you might look to do for your next career role and perhaps even start making some inquiries. Be careful, though, not to spend all day, every day, job searching as this will soon wear you down.
Consider taking up a new hobby. Find time to do what you’ve always wanted to do that, somehow, work or other stuff just got in the way before – what’s stopping you now?
Each incremental action you take will soon create momentum and not only make you feel more positive but will move you away from those fears that are currently holding you back and creating feelings of anxiety.
3. Movement, fresh air, and routine are crucial
You can’t extricate yourself from your current situation if you’re still lying in bed. Make sure you are sticking to a daily routine. Go to bed at the same time you did when you were working, set your alarm, and get up at the same time. Make sure you shower and get dressed – you don’t need to be all suited and booted but at least make an effort for your family, those Zoom calls, and the Amazon delivery guy!
Plan tasks for the day, split between those jobs that need doing at home, and planning your next career move. Include a walk, run, or cycle in the fresh air (essential). The therapeutic benefits of gardening are now widely documented, so get that border sorted.
4. Accept what is happening and that it’s not a reflection of you
None of us really knows when this pandemic will end. Focusing on things you can’t change is not healthy or productive. It’s important to recognize that these are unchartered waters for us all and knowing that you’re not alone in having these fears might help you accept the situation better. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved sometimes.
Remember that ‘this too shall pass,’ lockdown will ease, the virus will be contained, job opportunities will appear again, you will get through this. It may take time, though, so be prepared to hang in there and implement the suggestions mentioned earlier.
5. Keep healthy
If you’re going to do those jobs around the home while re-shaping your resume and sending out job applications or connecting with helpful people on LinkedIn, you’re going to need energy. Poor mental health caused by worry and anxiety can deplete your energy resources significantly.
It’s essential to keep your energy levels at their optimum by maintaining a healthy sleep regime, reduce the number of snacks or ready meals you’re consuming, keep hydrated (alcohol will not hydrate you) keep mobile by making sure you’re not sitting down for longer than 30 minutes at a time and take regular aerobic exercise, preferably outdoors.
Keeping healthy is as much about your mental health as it is about your physical wellbeing. Mindfulness is becoming an increasingly popular pastime – using a combination of meditative techniques and breathing. Mindfulness can be hugely beneficial in helping reduce feelings of anxiety – 2 great mindfulness apps are Calm and Headspace.
Reading those books you always meant to catch up on might be another good past-time to help keep your mind occupied – nothing too dark or depressing, though.
Contributing to others has been proven to help reduce our worries. Is there a charity you’d like to volunteer some time to help, or perhaps you know of someone else who is struggling in some way, for who can you be there?
6. Don’t do this alone
If you are feeling a sense of complete hopelessness and despair, then it could be that you’re simply not motivated to do any of the things outlined above. If you have reached this point, then it’s crucial to recognize two things:
1) This feeling is temporary. This situation is not permanent – do not consider taking the ultimate ‘permanent solution’ to what is absolutely a temporary situation.
2) Ask for help – ask your family, a close friend, or contact any of the services I have listed below, many of whom are trained to support you and who will listen and help you find a solution. Please use them.
There are times in life when there seems no point, no way out, and all the cards seem stacked against you. I felt this way, and so did my family and my son when he chose to take his own life in December 2019. We still have a choice now about how we move forward. Tragically Jordan doesn’t – don’t be that person who takes a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Steve Phillip’s Linkedin page.