The most significant outcome of the pandemic worldwide is its impact on mental health. If you take the statistics from India alone, till July 2020, the salaried job losses is hovering around 18-19 million jobs. A large portion of these losses are in the corporate sector. Adding to the salary cuts, and the perceptual fear of losing the job, the mental health impact is catastrophic.
Let us try to understand how a job loss affects mental health and wellbeing. First of all what we lose when we lose a job is self-esteem, resulting in creation of self-doubt. This is happening because of, what we call as organisational attachment which means how we have adopted the characteristics of the organisation to our cognitive responses. To make it simpler when we are employed we identify ourselves that is our individuality to our organisation. The identity of the organisation or the designations that we have in the organisation is based on which we have developed our self-worth. It is through this that we derive our social recognition and acceptance. So when we lose it we are cognitively in our thoughts redrawing a picture of our self which is self-defeating.
The second aspect of jobless is about uncertainty. We are now forced to look at a future which we are unsure off. While research has shown that around 80 % of the people who have lost a job have been re-employed in a 6-8 months period but our minds do not accept that since our self-esteem is lost and we expect a bleak future and losses our confidence. The third aspect is of course the financial insecurity to which we fall into, worrying on how are we will be able to meet our daily expenses and family commitments.
Having understood how job losses impact our mental health let us look into the neurotic effect of this on our mind and body. Uncertainty results in increase in stress which depending on the personality of the individual leads into anxiety and depression. This is the reason that today we observe a high incidence of mental disorders among people especially among who have loosed their income.
Few of the general executive counselling tips are shared here which will help everyone to cope with this during time period.
Time and Activity scheduling:
We always follow our biological clock in our day to day activities. This should not be disrupted. Having got up from bed we have specific schedule of activities, like time for breakfast going to office having lunch etc. These time schedules should not be broken up with sedentariness and slowness of activity. If not activity related to you job, you need to work out new activities into your daily work. May be reading a book, spending time with the pet or being in the garden, managing your finances, going out for personal work, whatever it may be. The scheduling and systemic nature of your activity should be maintained. This will give more control over the wandering mind, makes you feel more worth full and your activity meaningful. Your body too will not take a negative signal and will not get stressed.
Manage the sleep/wake cycle:
Having time under your command makes we alter the sleeping and waking time affecting the circadian rhythm of the brain. Hence it is imperative that we ensure that we keep a specific time for going to bed and also in waking up. If the level of stress and anxiety is high getting into sleep or getting up from bed will be difficult. This can be effectively managed by drinking a glass of milk half an hour before sleep as milk contains melatonin and tryptophan both inducing sleep. Soothing music can be used and also a mild walk after dinner induces sleep. Similarly when waking up the load of sub conscience thoughts will be high making us crawl back to the bed. Calmly take a full breath of air from the nose, fill your stomach and hold for few seconds and leave from the mouth. You can also use the technique of observing your breath. This can be done by laying down itself and are thought controlling remedies giving you the will to get up.
Stop obsessive searching of Job:
While you could schedule a specific time for searching for a job, in the internet or through telephoning a person, don’t overdo the same. Make job search your activity per day per scheduled period but don’t give it more importance. This is required to control your cognitive reaction to your state of affairs. Understand that outcome of an event is proportional to the work or thought behind that but hope and patience have to be intermingled in it. Be consistent but remain detached and don’t overdo. Mind my words things sometimes just happen.
Manage your finances
Around 40 % of our monthly expenses are non-discretionary expenses. We unknowingly spend money to satisfy our dopamine induced spurt buying. Try to identify those expenses and curtail it. The covid economy and the need to be inside house and maintain social distancing should be positively taken to achieve this. Your contingency cash should be planned for a period of minimum 6 months either by pooling into your resources or my monetizing any of your assets or friendly zero interest loans from people who you think can help. Creation of this moratorium period will help you give the right message to your mind for not being anxious and become mentally ill.
This is a time when not only you but also your relatives, children or spouse will also be anxious. Hence managing anger and negative emotions are an important factor. Leadership is also about crisis management and hence feel like a leader and keep positively communicate to people without getting annoyed. Let your turmoil be controlled inside your mind but not through negative expressions with family. Similarly any negativity from the family should not be taken at heart but you need to believe that your family is just venting out the pressure.
Adverse mental health conditions comes from our inability to manage the thoughts and actions. Following the above will help us control the triggering factors of negative thought and changing over belief system.
Understand that behind every obstacle there is an opportunity and as it is always said, this too will pass off.
Rajesh Menon is a practicing management professional and Counselor with more than 22 years of experience in project management, business development and corporate strategy.