The current economic crisis and the layoffs by major companies created anxiety among workers, even those who have not been directly affected. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s HR Chief wrote about a global human energy crisis saying that about half of the employees are burnt out. In addition, UN Secretary-General warned that the next pandemic will be about a mental health crisis.
While economic downturns are not uncommon, it is beyond our control. Finding a new job or growing our business is not entirely up to us. But still, when we face a setback like job loss, it may feel personal, “there must be something wrong with me; it must be my fault.”
So what can we do to weather this storm?
Here are some practices that can help us stay resilient and maintain our well-being:
1. Manage your anxieties
Anxiety helps us sense danger and thus keeps us alive. But these days, our anxiety levels have risen to an excessive level that has become counterproductive. Deep breathing, meditation, physical movement, gratitude practice, and journaling are effective ways to keep our anxieties at bay.
Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki shared two evidence-based activities — breathing and movement — that can soothe your nervous system and fuel creativity and connection. Professor Richard Davidson’s research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows the power of meditation in managing unpleasant situations (pain).
2. Take good care of your mind and body
You are your biggest asset. Taking care of your overall well-being is even more crucial during a hard time.
Do something that energizes and nourishes you, like engage in past hobbies, do something meaningful to you, surround yourself with supportive people, books, and movies, and spend time in nature.
Regular physical movements like exercise, walking, playing, and dancing are crucial to keeping us healthy.
3. Reconnect with your resilience stories
We all have stories of overcoming adversities. Reflect on those. What helped you or your ancestors to overcome those hurdles? This will remind you of your resilience and provide insights into how you can apply these lessons to the current challenge.
The story of my grandmother’s struggle and triumph always gives me hope of courage in such times. As my brother wrote:
“Maimuna Khatun, my illiterate grandmother, in the heart of British Bengal in the 1930s, became widowed, with eleven young children to raise and several minor in-laws as her wards. But she stepped up and survived and left a flourishing family of almost a hundred descendants in prestigious organizations, independent businesses, and elite schools. … No doubt, she almost gave up at times in the face of enormous obstacles but never did. She became a leader.“
4. Reduce attachment to a specific outcome
When stakes are high, like during a job interview, we get too attached to a positive outcome.
A client once told me he had difficulty staying calm during job interviews. The anxiety of not being able to support his children almost paralyzed him. When I asked him how to manage such attachment, he remembered his Hindu religious teaching: “Do the karma, stay unattached to the outcome.”
Even if you don’t have such religious practice, focusing on the process rather than the outcome can help relax such attachment.
5. Take small actions
Planning and taking small actions can help us stay focused and move forward—so set small, actionable daily or weekly goals. For example, contact 1-2 people from your network during a job search, ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn or get your resume reviewed by a professional.
Personal finance is a significant source of worry in turbulent times, like after a job loss. However, reviewing and reducing expenses can also help alleviate some of that stress. For example, when contemplating leaving my high-paying job to pursue coaching as a career, I was stuck because of financial concerns. Finally, my husband and I sat with it and planned how to live with a reduced income. It gave me the momentum to move to the next step.
Hard times are an integral part of human life and opportunities for learning and growth. We can weather this storm when we accept and embrace it and focus on what we can control – as the famous Kelly Clarkson song goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
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The featured image is by Nathan Cowley at Pexel.com