Still Employed, But Stressed

By Paula Santonocito

Stressed businesswomanYou’ve survived job cuts at your company. Yet, instead of feeling relieved, you feel absolutely awful.

Not You

It’s important to know there’s nothing wrong with you. In fact, your reaction is very common.

A study by the Institute of Behavioral Science finds layoff survivors are prone to greater role ambiguity and job demands that, among other things, can contribute to increased alcohol consumption and depression.

The study also finds layoff survivors often experience worsening physical as well as mental health, and end up taking more sick days.

Employee morale and job commitment likewise decline.

If you step back and think about it, seeing your coworkers exit, taking on a heavier workload, and wondering if your name will be on one of the next pink slips all take a toll-even if you tell yourself you’re lucky to have a job.

Add to this the likelihood that your personal financial situation isn’t exactly peaking right now either. Perhaps you used to take solace in the knowledge that you could fall back on your savings if you got laid off. But now that nest egg, well, it’s more nest than egg.

Here too you aren’t alone. On average, people who invested in equity funds are down 32 percent this past year, and some are down 50 percent or more.

So okay, you’re not alone. Should you console yourself with “misery loves company”?

Keeping It Real

Talking with others certainly helps. Comfort can be found by realizing you’re not alone in the leaky boat. However, drifting about in a leaky boat, even with the best of comrades, doesn’t solve your situation. The objective is to get out of the boat.

How do you do this?

Recognize your symptoms for what they are. If you’re stressed because the economy has wreaked havoc on your employment situation, call it as you see it.

But then do what you can to remain on solid ground.

For example, instead of drowning your sorrows at happy hour each evening, why not sign up for a course or two that can increase your value to your employer, and increase your marketability in the event of a layoff?

If you’re experiencing mental or physical health problems, make an appointment with an appropriate professional. An employee assistance program, available as a benefit at many companies, often includes mental health counseling.

Meanwhile, don’t neglect basics: diet, exercise, and sleep. Healthy living can make you more resilient, and better able to deal with some of the negativity that has come your way.

Remaining Engaged

It’s all about acknowledging your current reality, and then doing your part to change what is within your control.

Unfortunately, you can’t control the economy and, unless you’re the boss, you can’t control company policies and decisions.

However, with a little self-awareness and the right support, you can remain focused on the job at hand, while working to the best of your ability.

Additional Reading

Dealing with Coworker Incompetence

How to Handle a Boozing Boss

Improve Your Job Performance: Get Some Sleep