Coping with Job-Loss During the Holidays. Rosanna M. Conti, LAC, CSW, Certified School Counselor, M.A., M.Ed. . Our jobs are much more than just the way we make a living . They influence how we see ourselves, as well as the way others see us .
Rosanna M. Conti, LAC, CSW, Certified School Counselor, M.A., M.Ed.
Beyond the loss of income, losing a job also comes with other major losses, some of which may be even more difficult to face:
You may feel
Resistance: Later in the process, people may engage in resistance to the idea of the job loss, and may believe that there are things that they can do to change the situation. They may think that doing something such as taking a pay cut or agreeing to work fewer hours will help them keep their jobs. In most cases, this is not a viable option.
It is important to remember that not all people will experience all stages, not all stages will occur in the order listed, and many who experience job loss will go back and forth among the stages before finally reaching acceptance.
If you experience feelings associated with these stages, keep in mind that this is normal, thatyou can work through these feelings and feel better.
Some people may move through these stages more quickly than others may, and this is normal, too.
However, anyone having great difficulty with the experience, or who is stuck in a certain phase, may need professional help in order to move on.
Studies show that people become more likely to experience depression and anxietyafter a job loss.
However, people are more surprised to learn that the stress of job loss or even the threat of job loss can cause an increase in health problems.
Stress has been linked toheart disease, cancer, depression, obesity, sleep problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, chronic pain, migraines, anxiety, autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions, all of which can lead to major health expenses. It’s also known to speed up the aging process.
it is especially important that people try to take good care of themselves during this time, even if they don't really feel like doing this.
possibly leading to depression or other mental health problems and even problems with physical health.
feel some kind of
anxiety or stress about the holidays.
These feelings can be brought about by many factors, including increased stress and fatigue, unrealistic expectations, too much commercialization, or inability to be with family (or too much family!).
The shopping, out-of-control discretionary spending, decorating, cooking, visiting, and holiday entertaining at home can all add up and cause tremendous pressure on both adults and kids.
You might also be experiencing physical or behavioral side effects, such as:
HOLIDAY STRESS:1. Start planning early. Doing your shopping piece by piece throughout the year prevents the large accumulation of bills that comes from doing it all at once. It also allows you to shop at your leisure, and to avoid the holiday crowds.2. Take some time with yourself to consider what your history with the holidays is. If it’s consistently stressful, give some thought to what keeps you doing the same thing year after year. 3. Establish realistic goals. You do not have to attend every party or stay the whole time. You do not have to find the perfect gift for everyone. You do not have to sample every hors d’oeuvre for fear of offending the host. Every person is an individual. Do as much as you are comfortable with and can financially afford—stick to a budget.
4. Limit drinking. Alcohol is a depressant, so it will not help you if you already have a case of the blues. Furthermore, it’s empty calories, which can contribute to holiday weight gain, another source of stress. Try drinking non-alcoholic punch, water, or juice. 5. Do not feel obliged to feel festive. For many people, having to offer an annual update on the progress their lives and careers at holiday gatherings can be painful if things are not going as well as they hoped. Do not force yourself to express specific feelings. Honor the feelings that you have inside you. If you have recently experienced a loss (e.g., breakup, loss of a job, death, or even thoughts of September 11), tell people about your needs. You will not bring people down by doing so, and you are not responsible for their feelings. If you need to confront someone with your problems, begin your sentences with, “I feel...”.
6. To relieve stress, know your spending limit and stick to it. Try to enjoy activities that are free, such as concerts or looking at lights. Window shop. Do not be afraid to say no to your children! Buy a smaller tree. Choose a few presents with care. Go for quality over quantity.7. Furthermore, consider other ways to structure this time for your children. Set a limit on what you will spend for them to give gifts to friends or classmates. Arrange car pools to ease the burden of playing chauffeur to parties. When taking your children into a store, tell them before you go in what you expect of their behavior and what the consequences will be if they do not follow directions (e.g., “When we are in the store, I expect you to stay by me, keep your hands to yourself, and use an inside voice. If you do not do these things, we will leave the store.”) Follow through. At parties or gatherings, remind small children about the basic expectations you have for manners, such as use of please and thank you.
8. Be sure to take care of yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Beef up simple indulgences such as hot baths, candles, phone calls to friends, movie rentals, time spent in hobbies, and getting enough sleep.
Instead of big gifts for others, buy smaller gifts and volunteer at community events. Bring some homemade food or baked goods to your local nursing care facility. Volunteer at a shelter.
Sometimes reflecting on those less fortunate helps us regain perspective about how lucky we are and how commercialized our holidays can become. .
11. Don’t lose sight of the real spirit of the holidays, which is about enjoying and being thankful for each others’ company.
Make the holidays what you want them to be, right now. Don’t put the bar so high that you make yourself miserable trying to reach it. Be here, now.
IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS EXPERIENCING HOLIDAY BLUES:1. Try to involve that person in activities, but don’t be forceful.2. Be a good listener. If they express depressive thoughts or feelings of worthlessness, be supportive. Let them know you are there and willing to help them seek professional help. Never challenge or deny their feelings. Show them this article!3. Be aware that holidays can be difficult for some people, especially when reality doesn’t measure up to their expectations. Help people establish what is realistic and what is not. 4. Familiarize yourself with local resources such as crisis hot lines, mental health professionals, or mental health centers if you have particularly high concerns about someone (including yourself).Holiday blues can sometimes carry over into the New Year, if someone becomes sufficiently exhausted and stressed. Do not hesitate to seek mental health treatment if mood problems persist!
Unemployment affects the whole family, so keep the lines of communication open. Tell your family what’s going on and involve them in major decisions. Keeping your job loss or your unemployment a secret will only make the situation worse. Working together as a family will help you survive and thrive, even in this difficult time.
Especially during times of stress, it can be very helpful to have a strong network of people that you can turn to for emotional support. After a job loss, it may seem as though you will never find another job, or you may feel bad about yourself, but having the support of family members and friends can help you gain and maintain perspective. Seek out positive people who can help you identify good strategies, who encourage your efforts, and who remind you that this is a temporary setback. This can help you weather this difficult time.
Some also find it helpful to keep a journal in order to let out some of the thoughts and feelings they are having.
You may even join a job seeker's support group. This is a group that educates people on how to find work. Neighbors helping Neighbors (NhN) is such a groupandhas a strong track record of helping members find work. Also check out JobSeekersOfMontclair.org.
According to John Fugazzie: Neighbors helping Neighbors “has about 200-250 members who attend our meetings weekly and follow our program. With 357 success stories, that is a high rate of success for those who fully engage in our group meetings and use all our tools and then go apply them.”
A weekly NhN group is starting here at Fair Lawn Library on Thursday evenings in January.
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