July 23, 2024
Simple coping strategy from mental health pro

It’s been another brutal week for layoffs across various industries as dozens of big-name companies and media properties announce job cuts. 

If you’re reading the headlines and wondering if you might be next, you’re not alone. Eighty-five percent of Americans are worried they’ll lose their jobs in 2024, according to a recent MyPerfectResume survey of nearly 2,000 people. 

Confronting your feelings is the best way to proceed, says Christopher Hansen, a licensed professional counselor with Thriveworks in San Antonio, Texas.

“I’ve noticed the anxiety for people that survive mass layoffs is almost as bad as the anxiety people who lost their jobs feel, because they’re stuck in purgatory, wondering if they’re next on the chopping block,” says Hansen. “That generates a lot of angst and anxiety.”

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The ambiguous, uncertain threat can be the most difficult part to cope with. There’s a simple strategy you can use to cope, though, according to Hansen — and even better, he adds, “it takes less than five minutes.”

How to stop spiraling negative thoughts about losing your job

The perpetual fear of getting laid off causes a lot of people to fall into a vicious cycle of “stinking thinking,” which Hansen describes as “constant fretting about the worst-case scenario.” 

To stop spiraling negative thoughts about losing your job, write them down. Note where you are and what you are doing when you start to feel anxious. That can help you to identify what triggered such feelings, as well as your beliefs about the situation. 

For example: “We just had a meeting where 10% of our staff lost their jobs, and now I am worried about losing my job and not being able to afford my rent.”

Replace each negative thought with a positive, realistic affirmation, Hansen suggests. For example: “Just because my co-workers got fired doesn’t mean I am going to lose my job tomorrow.” 

Focusing on the present can help you ground yourself and feel more in control of the situation.

Recruiters and HR experts recommend taking practical steps to prepare for a potential layoff, too, so that you can feel more prepared. Update your resume, set up job alerts on job search websites, and seek advice from a mentor or other professional contacts.

Then focus on the hobbies, relationships and interests that give you joy outside of your job. Even finding a new TV show to be excited about, Hansen says, can be a powerful antidote to layoff anxiety. 

“When you’re under that kind of stress, it starts to bleed into your personal life, your relationships, and can quickly zap your ability to enjoy anything else,” he says. “But we are whole people outside of our 9-to-5’s, and it’s important to remind yourself of that.”

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Check out: 3 steps to take immediately after an unexpected layoff: ‘Make sure your basic conditions’ are met

Simple coping strategy from mental health pro

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