Anxious about Losing Your Job? You are Not Alone

Community Member

In these times there seems to be a lot to be anxious about. One anxiety shared by many is the threat of job loss. One estimate   is that as of September 2010, the unemployment rate in the United States was 9.60 percent. To put this into perspective, in November of 1982 we experienced a historical high of 10.80 percent unemployment and in May of 1953 there was a record low of 2.50 percent. (Source: Trading Economics).

Newsweek recently reported on some of the results from a Harvard Institute of Politics poll which took a look at young voters between the ages of 18 to 29 years of age. They found the following about how our young people view their job and financial situation:

  • Nearly half of the Harvard poll respondents said they were worried about losing their job.

  • Forty-five percent described their financial situation as bad.

  • Only fourteen percent of the young people who go to a four-year college believe that they will have an easy time of finding a job once they graduate.

Young people are not the only ones to worry in this economy. In a fascinating and frightening article entitled, Pink Slips and Poor Health: The Toxicity of Job Insecurity, author Tom Jacobs cites research to show that workers over the age of forty who lose their jobs can expect a loss of life expectancy of one to one and a half years. This clearly shows that job loss can be detrimental to one's health. People who are let go from their jobs are not the only ones at risk. Other research seems to indicate that people who are employed but are fearful and anxious about losing their job are also at risk for health problems. The mental state of chronic insecurity and anxiety takes a human toll that we have only just begun to examine.

If you are in this boat of being worried about your job and anxiety is beginning to affect your day to day functioning, then it is time to take some action. In these difficult times you need to build up your emotional stamina and resistance to stress.

Here are some tips to help you get through these economically turbulent times:

  • Remember that your value, your worth as a person, and your self esteem is not dependent upon your job. Anyone, despite their hard work, talents, and occupational achievements can be let go from their job. It is unfair. It doesn't make sense. But it does happen. It is imperative that you maintain your sense of self worth regardless of what happens with your job.

  • It is good to keep your resume updated. Not only will this help to prepare you for any opportunities, it is psychologically uplifting to see all of your accomplishments, experience, and occupational achievements listed in this visual way.

  • Find support within your company. If you are feeling anxious about your job, chances are your co-workers are too. Talking with others who are in the same boat may help. Sometimes the shared experience of possible loss pulls people together. Some of your trusted co-workers may have ideas of how to cope if they have been through such a situation before.

  • This is easier said than done, but try not to obsess. If you find that all you are thinking or talking about is your potential job loss then you will leave no energy to focus on actually doing your job or devising a plan of action.

  • Have a "Plan B" in mind in case the worst happens. Contact your connections to see what opportunities exist elsewhere. It never hurts to look for new job opportunities while you are still employed. This will give you a feeling of control that you are actually doing something instead of ruminating about when you may lose your job.

  • Focus on what gives you the most meaning at your job. Keep doing what you do well. Find something positive in what you do to get you through the day.

  • Prepare financially for a possible loss of income. Financial advisors usually tell you to keep a savings of at least three to six months of living expenses in an account. Nowadays it may be more like six months to a year's worth, depending upon how long you think it would take you to find a new job.

  • Be positive but don't be naïve either. Rumors of lay-offs and job loss usually ring true in the end. Big sweeping changes in the mission and philosophy of the company is usually a sign of impending unemployment for some workers. Economists call this the concept of "creative destruction" where new and "innovative" ideas call for a slash and burn approach to fire most employees and start new. In these times it is wise to trust actions instead of words. Often, management will be the last people to tell you what is going to happen. In some cases people are told the very day that they are let go. It is not helpful to be paranoid, but neither is it to your advantage to ignore warning signs that your job is in jeopardy.

  • If your anxiety is overwhelming it is a good idea to seek help from a mental health therapist. You do not need to go through this alone. There are people who can help you to get through this unstable time. Lean on your family and friends. Find support where you can get it.

  • Remember that you have a life outside of your job. Take time to relax and do something fun which does not have to do with your work. Don't let your worries over work rob you of enjoying your life. There will be other jobs. There will never be another you.

Now we would like to hear from you. Are you currently suffering from anxiety due to worries over losing your job? Have you been through a job lay off? How did you cope? Talk to us. We are listening.