How to work under constant fear and stress?
We talked to business coach Elena Mikhailova about how to continue to live and work nowadays and learned from her how to find resources within yourself, how to work under constant internal and external pressure, and what to do for those who have already been laid off and have lost their income.
Fear, stress, and anxiety have become constant for most of us today.
If you are bothered every day by thoughts such as: "what if I lose my job and have no steady income?", "my state of mind prevents me from finding the resources to work effectively", or "what if there is a total collapse ahead of me?" - you are not alone. Such thoughts worry millions of people, both those affected by war and those who have been safe.
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In this interview, we will cover the fear of job loss purely from a psychological point of view and give recommendations based on business coaching practice in the new realities.
How to work under constant stress and fear of losing your job?
It is possible to work under constant stress and fear, but it is unproductive and cannot work for long.
You need to exhale and ask yourself: "Am I working in this mode all the time or is it short-term?
In the case of short-term stress, you need to make sure you provide yourself with basic care:
- sleep - at least seven hours a night;
- at least 30 minutes of fresh air a day;
- regular hot meals and at least one litre of water a day.
It is also better not to make additional commitments, such as not walking your neighbor's dog or starting a driving course - mobilize your resources for the short term only.
If you are planning to work in this way for the long term, you better be clear that prolonged stress is a blow to your health, your nervous system, and your relationships with others. If there are no other options at this stage, my advice is to find professional help: a psychologist, a coach, or an effective online program so that you are not left alone with stress.
"I also see in my practice that people who participate in active and group sports, such as running, competitive swimming, football and other similar sports, handle the situation of chronic stress best."
How does fear of job loss affect the overall performance of an individual and of an entire team?
The standard reaction of people to fear, if considered simplistically, falls into three types:
- Being angry. When we start to show negative emotions as well: blaming, proving our case, insisting on our opinion, without noticing the emotions and resistance of others. This is an active attitude, but it is more likely to lead to conflict and negativity and simply "cover-up" fear.
- Being frozen. It feels like we are frozen: impossible to work or rest. During this time, we can just scroll through our social media feeds, read unnecessary articles, pretending to be a "dead bug," desperately hoping that the danger will pass us by.
- Running away. Saying that nothing wrong is happening is also an escape option. Or alternatively, taking futile, frantic action until there is some clarity.
These reactions can be either individual or collective and are most often spread by a manager or informal leader.
All of the reactions described above hinder effectiveness in the long run, given today's complex business environment. That's why both training and advice on dealing with stress are now so popular.
How do you work with the fear of losing your job?
The recipe is different for everyone, depending on individual reactions to stress and fear. We tend to exaggerate the size of the danger, but it is better to be prepared.
It is a very far-sighted person who, having a job, builds up their safety reserve - savings that are sufficient for about six months of relatively comfortable life without work. This will give you both psychological and economic peace of mind in the event of a 'work drama'.
What methods can you advise to those for whom the standard ways of dealing with stress are not suitable?
If my client is not prepared to invest energy and time in exercising and training the mental muscle for self-regulation (light versions of meditation, work with a psychologist), I advise talking to an appropriate doctor and considering medication for effective functioning in an emergency mode. I advise not to neglect medical help by depleting the body's not limitless resources.
The next action, which will help us distract us from our fearful reflections, is to rebuild, maintain or expand our network of acquaintances. Statistically, the fastest way for people to find a job is through acquaintances.
What advice do you have for people who have already lost their job and are at the stage of looking for and are afraid that they will not find it at all?
In such a situation, people are usually confused, they feel as if they have been knocked out of their saddle, out of their routine, they are confused. I would advise you not to save money, but to take 1-3 consultations with a career specialist or career coach, so that you have a calibrated strategy and tactics from the very beginning of your job search. Usually, the opposite happens: a person decides to make do with their own resources, but in the end, months go by and the person goes to a specialist in desperation and extreme anxiety.
Should I look for a job if there is no threat of being fired?
Everyone will answer this question for themselves, depending on how satisfied they are with the content of the job, the team and the working atmosphere, the material remuneration etc.
But I know that practically all in-demand specialists from time to time respond to interesting vacancies or proposals and go for interviews just to check their qualification, and market relevance, which certainly boosts self-confidence, but also to understand what competencies he or she lacks and to start working on them.
To summarise, the main point needed to sustain oneself is to accept the situation in order to adapt to the new realities.
- Taking care of yourself should remain at the forefront.
- Regular learning will help you feel an inner core and confidence in yourself as a professional.
- Pump up your mental muscle in the ways that you are most comfortable with.
- Expand your professional network of acquaintances and back yourself up financially.
- Don't neglect the help of professionals (psychologists and career counsellors).
And most importantly: don't forget the people closest to you, because their support is one of the strongest sources of energy for each of us.
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