#Covid-19: Coping with anxiety and stress if you've lost your job 4 months ago

#Covid-19: Coping with anxiety and stress if you've lost your job

"Your job did not define you."

Losing your job can be a stressful and upsetting experience. It's bound to be even more stressful and upsetting in the midst of a global pandemic.

Thousands of people across the country - and beyond - are currently out of work, wondering where their next pay check is coming from, and struggling to find ways to fill their days.

Feeling anxious and depressed after losing your job is normal. The vast majority of people will feel this way - it's a given.

However, it's important to ensure that these feelings don't fester and become unmanageable over time. Losing a job can sometimes feel like a hopeless situation, but thankfully, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that your mental health doesn't suffer in the meantime.

Dr Andrew Iles, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory’s Oxford Wellbeing Centre, says that the first thing you must do is understand that the situation is out of your control.

The second: accept that it is out of your control.

“Try not to take the loss of your job personally," he says. "Remember that there are many factors that are outside of your control, which may have led to your job loss.

"In current times, remember that it may not have been financially viable for your job role to be retained. It is not about your work or your productivity, but about the job role and ongoing viability for someone in that position.”

Next, you should take a bit of time to process the news. Jumping right into making a CV and applying for jobs might be tempting, but so is giving yourself a bit of time to breathe.

Dr Iles says that even if your friends and family are giving you the support you need, you should always have compassion for yourself too.

“Ignoring the effects that job loss will have on your day-to-day life and your family will not necessarily be helpful in the long-term," he says.

"This is the point at which you should be compassionate with yourself. Always allow others to support you in whatever way they can."

Listening to calming podcasts may help you to relax while you consider who to reach out to in similar organisations that may have some work. Taking small but practical steps - like taking on part time work or even volunteering for a bit - will help you to feel more proactive.

But so will doing things that are not related to work.

“Remember that your job did not define you," says Dr Iles. "You aren’t only your ‘job description’.”

“Try to keep your days and evenings separate. Build a routine where possible as this will break up the hours and give a sense of order. When we have structure, we know what the parameters and the rules are, and that decreases a sense of not knowing, which then decreases anxiety.

"It is all too easy to give into the feelings of lethargy and hopelessness but, if you can, push yourself to go out of the house.

"Daylight is just as important as maintaining a healthy diet and daily routine. Struggling with uncertainty is difficult so lower your standards for yourself, and recognise the small moments of achievement when you show resilience or strength.”

If this doesn't work and the feelings of hopelessness remain, there are still options.

Feeling anxious and depressed these days is normal, but if your levels of anxiety and depression are notably higher, it could be worth contacting your GP.

They might suggest talking therapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to manage your depression and anxieties.

But irrespective of how severe your stress and depression levels are, it's important to note that how you're feeling is totally warranted.

“Knowing that we have a stable income and have our finances in a healthy state is important for general well-being," says Dr Iles.

"Money is one of the most significant themes when it comes to stress. Few people can tolerate strains on their financial position without feeling worry or concern."

If you need to talk to someone, you can call the Samaritans 24hr helpline on 116 123.