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resources - DEALING WITH JOB LOSS

Critical Incident Stress
Coping through crisis
Good Directions to be your best
Dealing with holiday stress
After the Storm
Helping children grieve
Job Loss Stress
Understanding Grief
Stressed

You're Fired

Whether the economy is bad or good or whether jobs are scarce or abundant, job loss takes a tremendous toll on our life. It can affect our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing and cause disruptions in our relationships with others. Family members of those who lose a job can be affected in the same

ways.1 Job loss has a direct impact on  our well being and not just our emotional well being.

Employment is not only a source of income, but also a provider of social relationships, identity in society and individual self-esteem.2 Job loss can result in loss of identity, social contacts, and self-worth (Amundson & Borgen, 1992; Beehr, 1995).

Coupled with economic loss, the emotional toll can be devastating. Life assumptions must be reevaluated and life stories revised (Balk, 1999; Neimeyer, 1998). Workers must adjust to changed roles as learners, family members, citizens, and leisure participants, and perhaps diminished roles as wage earners (Gysbers, Heppner, & Johnston, 1998).

Job loss grief is much like the grief one experiences when a loved one dies. See page two for things you can do to help yourself move on.

JOB LOSS PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE

 

Chest pain
Chills
Dizziness
Elevated blood pressure
Fainting
Fatigue
Grinding of teeth
Headaches
Labored breathing
Muscle tremors
 

 

 

Nausea
Profuse sweating
Rapid heart rate
Shock symptoms
Thirst
Twitches
Visual difficulties
Vomiting
Weakness
 

 

 

 

JOB LOSS COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE

 

Blaming someone,
Confusion,
Disorientation of time, place or person
Hyper vigilance,
Heightened or lowered alertness,
Increased or decreased awareness of
surroundings,
Intrusive images,

 

 

 

Nightmares,
Poor abstract thinking,
Poor attention / decisions
Poor concentration / memory,
Poor problem solving,
Suspiciousness,
Trouble identifying objects or people,
Uncertainty.

JOB LOSS EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE

 

Anxiety,
Agitation,
Apprehension,
Denial,
Depression,
Emotional shock,
Emotional outbursts,
Fear,
Feeling overwhelmed

 

Guilt,
Grief,
Intense anger,
Irritability,
Loss of Emotional Control,
Panic,
Radical mood swings,
Inappropriate emotional,

response.

 

JOB LOSS BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE

 

Antisocial acts,
Change in social activity,
Change in speech patterns,
Change in usual communications,
Hyper alert to environment,
 

 

Erratic movements,
Inability to rest,
Increased alcohol
Consumption,
Intensified pacing,
Loss or increase of appetite,
Withdrawal.

 

Mutual support among family members is important since they may also experience some of these reactions
Any of these symptoms may indicate the need for medical evaluation.

When in doubt, consult a physician
 

THINGS TO CONSIDER TO HELP YOURSELF

Whether your job loss was expected or unexpected, you experienced some impact that could affect you physically (how you feel), cognitively (how you think), emotionally, or behaviorally (how you conduct yourself).

TO ALLEVIATE THE PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF JOB LOSS

• Within the first 24 to 48 hours periods of appropriate physical exercise alternated with relaxation will alleviate some of your physical reactions.
• Get plenty of rest.
• Eat well-balanced and regular meals, even if you don’t feel like it.
• Treat your body well. Stay away from or reduce your intake of things that contain caffeine including coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate. Also reduce your sugar intake and drink lots of water.
• Allergy medications will increase your stress level so, if possible, reduce your intake of these medications for a short time.

TO ALLEVIATE THE COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS OF JOB LOSS

• Structure your time – keep busy.
• Remind yourself that the symptoms you are experiencing are normal and you are having normal reactions.
• Talk to a good friend about it. Talking it out is a great healing medicine.
• Do not numb the pain with overuse of drugs or alcohol. You don’t need to complicate your problem with a substance abuse problem. Reach out. People do care.

TO ALLEVIATE THE EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS OF JOB LOSS

• It’s okay to feel rotten and share your feelings with others.
• Keep a journal. Write your way through those sleepless hours.
• Do things that feel good to you.
• Spend time with others.

TO ALLEVIATE THE BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS OF JOB LOSS

• Exercise controlled response in your reactions to adverse circumstances and/or uncaring people.
• Try to maintain a daily schedule.
• Don’t make big life changes or choices until you are confident you are making the right choice.
• Do make as many daily decisions as possible which will give you a feeling of control over your life.
• Recognize the fact that life will not be the same as before and that you can make it better.


THINGS TO TRY TO HELP YOU MOVE ON

• If you are young, consider that this may be a good time to change your career path.
• If you are older, realize you have much to offer in work and life experience.
• Find someone who will listen in a non-judgmental way to your plans for the future.
• Take a personal inventory of your abilities and skills. Think about how you can market yourself and/your ideas (e.g., what is it about what you have that others may want?)
• Update your resume – you may find free assistance and computer time at a public library.
• Look for opportunities to improve your knowledge and skills.
• While looking for your next job or career be positive every day (e.g., this might be the day when …).
• Remember that each day presents you with a new starting line for the race of life. Don’t give up!

References
1 The impact of job loss on family mental health, Silvia Mendolia - Corresponding author - School of Economics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
2 Winkelmann and Winkelmann (1998)
 

 © 2002, Ron Richardson

 

   
 

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