Is the fear real or just in your head?
Each day, when Sandra--a new client of mine--arrives at her work desk and sees that all her belongings are still in place, she sighs with relief that she still has a job. Most nights she wakes up multiple times worrying that the next morning, she’ll get the dreaded pink slip. Her fear over possibly losing her job may seem irrational, but to her it feels very real and disturbing to her. Maybe you can relate?
According to the American Institute of Stress, job pressures and fear of job loss top the list of things stressing employees to a frazzled state.
Over 70 percent of workers report that such uncertainties cause both physical and psychological symptoms, including: nervousness, overeating and under eating, recurring nightmares, apprehension, memory issues, and poor judgment.
If this sounds like you, know that unchecked, these chronic concerns become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You end up feeling exhausted and clearly you’re not yourself. When you're overwhelmed, you typically perform under par...and your relationships--both professional and personal--suffer.
But you can halt your fears.. Here 6 ways I teach clients--including Sandra--on how to cope with disturbances like this and change such harmful behaviors.
1. Notice your own negativity
When anxiety rises in your body, pay attention to it. The best way to dissolve fear is through awareness. Face it head on. It’s OK if you feel scared. Notice it; accept it. But do know, in our biological development, we’re wired for negativity. Our brains are equipped with a survival mechanism that alerts us to all perceived dangers so we can react.
The problem is that our fears — which are usually of our own making — can seem like a Bengal tiger to us. Thoughts about not being capaable or smart enough or not being likeable or popular can create unwarranted reactions to situations and stimulate a "fight or flight" stress response. Hormones get released that activate increased blood flow and heart rate, making us feel agitated and nervous.
2. Take action
Build your sense of on-the-job security by asking yourself whether you’re truly delivering what your company hired you to do. Remember why they hired you, what their needs are, and whether or not you're using your skills to achieve that for them.
If you feel you could do a better job, write down one thing you can immediately improve and do it within the week. Perhaps it's asking a colleague for a tip on performing a specific task better, or maybe it's registering for a career-related class. If you are genuinely satisfied with your work performance, and your boss keeps giving you good reviews, then take some chill time away from work to get your emotions in check. You may have nothing to feel insecure about.
3. Put a safety net in place
If money worries are causing your insomnia, do something productive to put a financial safety net (even a small one) in place. Create a sense of security by saving money so you're cushioned if the worst happens. Run the numbers so you're 100 percent sure what you need each month to pay your bills.
Be realistic. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you'll need advice. Consult a money manager to help you figure out how to develop reserves in your current situation. If you can't tuck cash away, look at reducing expenses (lowering cell phone bills, cutting down on unnecessary spending, etc.) One of the best ways to calm your current anxiety is by creating a new sense of financial protection.
4. Start looking for a new job
If you’re genuinely unhappy in your job, feel unappreciated or under challenged, or truly know you're about to lose your job, put your resume in order, update your LinkedIn profile, and start scouting for other job options. It's also a good time to put out some networking feelers. In this scenario, fear of losing your job becomes a great motivator for finding a more satisfying career path.
5. Adjust your beliefs about your identity
If you lost 100 dollars today, would you still be you? If you lose your job, the same applies. You are not your job. Your work is what you do but is not who you are. You are so much more than your salary or job position. Take a moment to consider your personal traits and your value to those in your circle of influence — parents, friends, your spouse, even co-workers. What are some of the compliments people give you regularly? Are you a good listener? A caring person? Creative? Organized? Diligent? Trustworthy?
Ground yourself in all of your positive attributes and take a moment to appreciate who you are, as those things about you don't change based on your employment status.
6. Take your vacation time
This is a biggie. About 40 percent of Americans do not take vacation leave. With leaner staffs, employees feel they can’t get away because no one else can cover their job. They fret that burdened co-workers will resent their time off, so they don't take that time. But vacations are essential for your well-being to avoid mental overload and physical burnout. You need time off to rest your brain and restore your body. Without breaks, you compromise not only your productivity, but your health. You need to unplug and step away from work entirely, including energy and time draining tasks like emails, texts and phone calls. Take some time to disconnect, replenish your energy levels, recharge your creativity and spend needed quality time with family and friends.
One client likes taking cruises because they force him to unplug and get off the grid. By taking vacation time, you’ll actually become a happier, healthier and better employee.
A hard look at now
Connect to the present. Do your job now, today, the best you can. Trust in your abilities and, at the same time, get prepared for change. Often, out of adversity come great breakthroughs. Trust that any change that comes is actually leading you to something better.
If you feel judged by peers or friends during this time, remind yourself of your unique talents and embrace this time of transition. If you need support, find a coach, religious leader or mentor to help guide you. Avoid wallowing in the past of what happened or being concerned about what "might be" in the future. Instead, seize the chance to create your new destiny right now. The world awaits you.
When you release self-doubt, your work anxiety reduces and your productivity levels soar almost effortlessly.
As for Sandra who was worried about losing her job, after a few sessions with me, she still has twinges of concern but no longer dwells on those thoughts. She has a much more positive state of mind. Best of all she knows whatever happens, she now understands her potential and is confident in knowing she has options.
Want some one-on-one help? Check out IntegratedLifePlan.com and opt for a free session with me, Personal Development Coach Peggy Sealfon!