“As each day brings more bad news on the U.S. economic crisis, the monetary cost of the mounting job losses might be far easier to measure than the mental toll on the thousands of people who suddenly find themselves out of work. ‘When you lose a job, the losses are multiple,’ explained Michael McKee, a psychologist at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. ‘There's the possible loss of the financial ability to support yourself and your family if you don't have savings. There may be the loss of self-respect, and the respect of others. For some people, there's a loss of identity. There's a loss of security and daily structure. At the extreme end, there are people who lose meaning and hope.’ ‘What I feel is different now is that a great many people are anticipating that things will get worse," McKee added. ‘People are talking about a depression. And, it's everyone who's worried, even people with a great deal of money and middle-class people. It's getting harder to muster some optimism.’
Experts say there are a number of things you can do to ease the stress of unemployment:
Tell your family about the job loss, and reassure children that it will be OK. Don't try to keep the job loss a secret, advises Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, Neuropsychiatric Institute.
File for unemployment benefits right away, and find out about continuing your health benefits.
Take a few days of ‘me’ time and pamper yourself to get into a better mindset.
Turn your workday into a day of looking for work.
Take some time for reflection, and use this opportunity to figure out what type of work might really make you happy, says Dr. Jeff Brantley, director of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program at Duke Integrative Medicine in North Carolina.
Don't isolate yourself. Continue to socialize. Look for volunteer opportunities, recommends Michael McKee, a psychologist at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Exercise regularly and eat well to keep yourself healthy and to help stave off depression.
If you find that you just can't shake that anxious feeling, McKee says to practice some sort of relaxation, such as prayer, meditation or yoga. Try to change your thinking by writing down three positive affirmations every day. He said this helps you realize what your best qualities are, and helps to re-channel your thoughts in a more positive way.
If you find that you just can't look for a job anymore, or if people are telling you that you're irritable or angry all the time, or if you're withdrawing from people and activities you once enjoyed, or you're turning to alcohol or other substances to feel better, seek professional help.”