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Topic Thursdays – Coping with job loss

By Kaelanne Jordan
Email: mediarelations.camsel@catholictt.org
Twitter: @kaelanne1

As millions around the world are coping with job loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one mental health clinician says that unemployment “for sure” can lead to some mental health challenges such as stress, anxiety and depression.

“…and it’s not just a loss of a job; a job provides many things for us, so it’s a loss of identity, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a loss of feeling essential and a loss of what to do next?” said the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission’s (AFLC) Crystal Johnson during a ‘Topic Thursday’s’ segment on Facebook live on Thursday.

Fortunately, there are several ways to maintain one’s mental health during this “unprecedented time”.

Here are Johnson’s suggestions:

  • Acceptance: It’s important to accept how you are feeling and the current reality of your situation. “It’s okay to feel them. So, accept that you are feeling sad, frustrated, scared and angry….and you are in this rut and feeling down….” Johnson said. She however warned to not bottle these emotions, as this will not help in the long run. “The sooner you face the reality of what is happening and accept that… you can [then] cope appropriately and you can heal and move on to what you need to do next,” Johnson said.
  • Be kind to yourself: Give yourself some credit; you’ve been through a lot. “Understand that dwelling on the stress and anxiety of the unknown is really not going to be productive…. Accept that this part of your life is going to be different for a while but it’s only going to be temporary,” Johnson said.
  • Acknowledge your loss: This is a loss. Just as one would grieve the loss of a partner, a loss of a family member, allow yourself to also grieve the loss of a job. “Vent it out, have a good cry…. As a therapist we advocate for venting out feelings…you just need to release that,” Johnson said.
  • Focus on what you can control: If persons focus on what they can control and shift their perspective and attitude towards how they view their circumstance could put “a whole different spin on your approach in moving forward and surviving this period,” Johnson said. A bit of optimism is also critical. Johnson added that the decision to be laid off whether temporarily or permanently is not a reflection of one’s worth or capability.
  • Seek out resources during this time: Look where you can cut back. Johnson mentioned she is aware of government aids for persons affected by COVID-19 and also of persons who have been unable to access these funds. “Just really try to be patient during this time…” she said. She advised persons to contact the AFLC or visit their parish for support. Johnson urged persons who are not experiencing any financial disruption to see where they can contribute to those in need.
  • Maintain your daily routine: While it may tempting with a job loss to stay in bed and watch TV, “don’t do it”. Johnson also warned of avoid spending the day job hunting as this could make one feel “exhausted” and bring on feelings of despondency. “So make sure you set limits on your job search,” she advised. Johnson shared that routine has shown in many studies that it would help regulate mood and help ward off those depressive feelings and feelings that may occur. “So keep a routine. Wake up at a set time, shower and maintain a good hygiene, get dressed…all these things can boost your mood every day,” she said.
  • Avoid family conflict: As a couple, avoid fighting over what’s lacking. Rather, work together on what can be done for you and your family. “Sit down, list out expenses and see where you need to cut back.” Johnson warned parents who are experiencing depressive symptoms and anxiety to be careful how they are expressing their emotions in front of children. If they are old enough, however, its best to be honest and share what is happening with them.