Over the coming weeks and months many people will experience the stress of losing their jobs. For most, a job represents the ability of being prepared for what life throws at them. The ability to pay bills, buy necessities and create a life with some enjoyable recreational pursuits. Jobs offer status and for many, it is an indication, to themselves and others, of their place in the world. It helps people communicate with those they see as ‘like-minded people’ and share what they have in common. A good job enables people buy homes, get married and raise families. Employment is the bedrock of getting almost all our basic human needs met.
During an economic fallout where many companies need to consolidate their finances to survive, it is clear that a great number of people are at risk of losing their jobs, and with that, the potential loss of security and status. Unlike the occasional firing of an employee or folding of a company, employment markets are likely to be much more competitive because so many more people are in the same position.
The Importance of Self Care
It is easy to ignore the impact of these changes on mental health. Most of us believe we can withstand a great deal of stress and pressure. But too much stress can be overwhelming. When we are overwhelmed, we find it difficult to come up with solutions to the challenges we are facing. This in turn, has a severe negative knock on effect on how competently we see ourselves and our self-esteem risks taking a hit. When self esteem and confidence is low, this tends to be mirrored by behaviour leaving the individual appearing like they lack faith in their own abilities. This in turn is very often translated by others in the same way. How we view other people tends to be closely matched to how they view themselves. And here we have the downward spiral from being overwhelmed by stress to a loss of self-esteem and self-belief, thus risking mental health problems for the individual.
Cultivating recognition of your own value in the world, at a time when others may seem that they do not place a high value on what you can offer is an important first step to protecting your mental health. These four strategies will help you to overcome the worst elements of losing your job and may even set you on the path where you can exchange a job for a passion that pays.
1. Be Mindful.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully engaged with what is happening in our world at the present moment. Being present does not eliminate the stresses we are under, but it does help us understand how to handle our thoughts; both pleasant and unpleasant. This in turn helps us to understand the choices that are available to us. Meditation acts as training for mindfulness and gives techniques on how to focus on the moment. Practicing meditation and mindfulness is thought to reduce aggression, increase compassion shown for others and put people into a state of both physical and mental wellbeing.
2. Be Physically Active
The health benefits of being physically active are well known. They include increased energy, healthier skin, stronger muscles and bones, weight loss, a better ability to relax and better sleep quality. During exercise, your body releases the chemical known as endorphins. This hormone interacts with receptors in the brain which increases a feeling of happiness and reduces perceptions of pain. This gives an overall sense of control and wellbeing which will set a person up for positive interactions with the world around them.
3. Learn New Skills
The most obvious benefit of learning new skills is that it increases your value in the workplace while you are searching for a new position. However, learning new skills bring many other advantages that position people in a positive way with the world around them. The more you learn the better and faster you become at learning over time. This will make you highly adaptable in many more situations and will equip you with the confidence to know you can cope with new situations, methods, and technologies.
Perhaps equally important, those who regularly learn new skills tend to be more interesting and positive people. Learning naturally produces a better understanding of a wider variety of topics which stokes a genuine interest in other people’s lives, thus making interaction highly fluid. In short, communication takes place by interested parties as opposed to polite parties. Being a lifelong learner also helps you see possibilities in situations that you might not otherwise have noticed.
4. Connect with people
This area of our lives, through necessity, has been sadly neglected during the coronavirus pandemic. The damage our social lives and economies are experiencing are a direct result of how this pandemic has forced us to go against every instinct of being human and social. The benefits of connecting with others cannot be underestimated and, as social restrictions begin to lift we can begin to socialise in smaller groups again. Regular socialisation connects and grows in is many ways, including:
- Other people inspire and motivate us to act
- Being part of groups reinforces a deep sense of identity and sense of belonging
- Being with others teaches us compassion, acceptance, and empathy
- Having people to share our world decreases stress levels and builds self esteem
- Those with a sense of connection to other people tend to suffer fewer illnesses and live longer.
Ensuring you put in place a few regular self-care routines in place during these challenging times hold the possibility of helping you emerge bigger and better equipped for the future. You may finish this time of crisis living a rewarding, enlightening life that you were not aware was available to you before lockdown.
To sum up in the words of Dick Clark, US actor, “Success is finding something you love to do, getting paid to do it and finding someone to share it with.”