Before coronavirus hit, the last thing on our minds was losing our jobs. But for those who are lucky enough to have a job in the wake of the pandemic, there’s always lingering anxiety about the future. According to the American Institute of Stress, pressure on the job and job loss anxiety top the list of things stressing employees out. Over 70 percent of workers report that these uncertainties cause both physical and psychological symptoms, including nervousness, overeating and under eating, recurring nightmares, apprehension, memory issues, and poor judgment are dire consequences.
Unchecked, these chronic concerns become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You end up feeling exhausted and are clearly not yourself. When you’re overwhelmed, you typically perform under par.
But you can halt your fears and change these harmful patterns of behavior. Here’s how to deal with anxiety about getting fired or losing your job.
1. Take notice of your own negativity.
When anxiety rises in your body, pay attention to it. The best way to dissolve fear is through awareness. Face it head-on. It’s okay if you feel scared.
Notice it and accept it. But do know, in our biological development, we’re wired for negativity. Our brains are equipped with a survival mechanism that alerts to all perceived threats so we can react.
The problem is that our fears — which are usually of our own making — can seem like a Bengal tiger to us and stimulate an unwarranted “fight or flight” stress response. Hormones get released that activate increased blood flow and heart rate, making us feel agitated.
By bringing more self-awareness to your fear, you open the door to dismantling its hold on you.
2. Reduce your insecurities by taking action.
Build your sense of on-the-job security by asking yourself whether you’re truly delivering what your company hired you to do. Remember why they hired you, what their needs are, and whether or not you’re using your skills to achieve that for them.
If you feel you could do a better job, write down one thing you can immediately improve and do it within the week. Perhaps it’s asking a colleague for a tip on performing a specific task better, or maybe it’s registering for a career-related class.
If you’re genuinely satisfied with your work performance, and your boss keeps giving you good reviews, then take some time away from work to get your emotions in check. You may have nothing to feel insecure about.
3. Put a safety net in place.
If money worries are causing your insomnia, do something productive to put a financial safety net (even a small one) in place. Create a sense of security by saving money so you’re cushioned if the worst happens. Run the numbers so you’re 100 percent sure what you need each month to pay your bills.
Be realistic. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you’ll need advice. Consult a money manager to help you figure out how to develop reserves in your current situation.
If you can’t tuck cash away, look at reducing expenses (lowering cell phone bills, cutting down on unnecessary spending). One of the best ways to calm your current money and job loss anxiety is by creating a new sense of safety.
4. Start looking for a new job.
Taking action empowers you and becomes a bigger focus than your fear.
If you’re genuinely unhappy in your job, feel unappreciated or under challenged, or truly fear you’re about to lose your job, put your resume in order, update your LinkedIn profile, and start scouting for other job options.
It’s also a good time to put out some networking feelers. In this scenario, job loss anxiety becomes a great motivator for finding a more satisfying career path.
5. Adjust your beliefs about your identity.
If you lost 100 dollars today, would you still be you? If you lose your job, the same applies. You are not your job. Your work is what you do but isn’t who you are. You’re so much more than your salary or job position.
Take a moment to consider your personal traits and your value to those in your circle of influence — parents, friends, your spouse, even co-workers. What are some of the compliments people give you regularly? Are you a good listener? A caring person? Creative? Organized? Diligent? Trustworthy?
Ground yourself in all of your positive attributes and take a moment to appreciate who you are, as those things about you don’t change based on your employment status.
6. Take vacation time.
About 40 percent of Americans do not take vacation leave. With leaner staffs, employees feel they can’t get away because no one else can cover their job. They fret that burdened co-workers will resent their time off, so they don’t take that time.
But vacations are essential for your well-being to avoid mental overload and physical burnout. You need time off to rest your brain and restore your body. Without breaks, you compromise not only your productivity, but your health.
You need to unplug and step away from work entirely, including energy and time draining tasks like emails, texts and phone calls. Take some time to disconnect, replenish your energy levels, recharge your creativity, and spend needed quality time with family and friends.
7. Trust that you’ll be okay, no matter what.
Stop playing out the “what ifs” in your mind and, instead, accept “what is.” Connect to the present. Do your job now, today, the best you can. Trust in your abilities and, at the same time, get prepared for change. Even if the worst case happens, there’s no reason to lose who you are.
Stay in your power center boldly. Often out of adversity comes great breakthroughs. Trust that any change that comes is actually leading you to something better.
If you feel judged by peers or friends during this time, remind yourself of your unique talents and embrace this time of transition. If you need support, find a coach, religious leader or mentor to help guide you.
Avoid wallowing in the past of what happened or what “might be.” Instead, seize the chance to create your new destiny. The world awaits you. When you release self-doubt, your job loss anxiety reduces and your productivity levels soar almost effortlessly.
Originally published on YourTango.