Thursday mornings are often my favorite time of the week. It is when our office holds a stress management workshop, sponsored by our office but presented by our mental health provider partners upstairs. The person presenting the workshop has one of those smooth, mellifluous speaking voices that calms a person just by listening. By the time the workshop is over, I am calm and supercharged.
The workshop is presented as a venue to provide emotional support to jobseekers in our area. In it we understand a little more about stress and how it can affect us, what can happen to us, and ideas to explore about curbing stress and its related problems; namely, fear, frustration, anger, and depression.
In our daily lives, whether we are looking for our next career or not, we are regularly confronted with stress. Stress is a natural part of our reaction to change. Even waking up in the morning, passing from a state of sleep to a state of wakefulness, can produce stress (particularly if you just realized your alarm didn’t go off!). Natural physical responses can include feeling anxious, fearful, or frustrated. Our heart rate can go up, as can our breath rate. We can experience an adrenaline rush as our bodies prepare to deal with the stressors. Muscles tighten– we may see it in the mirror. Blood is pumped from the body core to the limbs, preparing for a “fight or flight” reaction. Thinking processes slow down. Pupils dilate. We’re ready for battle.
Nature has given our bodies the means to respond to single stressors, but more stress is additive: one stressor, such as being laid off or fired, can cause other stressors, such as lack of funds, a disruption of normal daily routines, loss of social interactions, and even a loss of identity as an employed worker. In addition, such a job loss event is actually a tramatic event that can precipitate a grief process like the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross model. Depression can bring on a lack of motivation that can stop us from exercising or eating properly or carrying on positive relationships with our loved ones.
There are ways that wecan mitigate the effects of a job loss stress event by keeping a regular routine as we would in our normal work schedule. Make sure proper diet and exercise is adhered to. Public events like job clubs can increase our social interactions, especially with people who are also struggling with joblessness. Even having a change of venue by conducting an online job search at the library or local coffee shop induces more of a lively, social atmosphere. Volunteering time to a local community cause such as a foodbank can promote social interaction and networking, and give a person a feeling of accomplishment as well. Allowing time for spiritula pursuits and wholesome recreation recharge the body and soul as well.
For those more acute stress moments, some things to try are visualization exercises (like visualizing yourself in a place you love and feel comfortable in), guided imagery, positive affirmations (telling yourself “I am talented! I will get back to work!”), keeping a regular journal (or blog), and even simple breathing exercises help strengthen a person and help them stabilize.
So go ahead– just breathe…
- STRESS 101 – What’s Going On In My Body (And Why Should I Care?) (awakenedlives.com)
- Ways to Manage Stress Calming a Stressful Lifestyle (aaramblog.com)