Reuters recently reported on a survey of over 1,000 adults who are currently employed. About one in five of them reported that the economy has impacted their mental health negatively. And a third or more said that their stress levels on the job have increased. It’s not difficult to understand why people are worried and distressed. Reasons include:
- No one can deny that the economy is bad and that the outlook is uncertain.
- Few people can say that their jobs are 100% secure.
- Most folks would struggle to make it if they lost their jobs and couldn’t find another one quickly.
- Most people at least know one or more people who have lost their jobs or are in great jeopardy of losing their jobs.
The article cited a recommendation by one author who suggested that workers adopt a mantra, to wit: “Everybody else is losing their job, but I’m not the one. That’s for somebody else. I’m not going to be that one.” Good advice?
We don’t think so. Following that suggestion would merely encourage denial that could easily be ripped apart by a dose of reality. Dr. Smith and I both suggest the value of cognitive therapy (and its cousin behavior therapy) for treatng problems with anxiety and stress. A very common misconception about cognitive therapy is that the approach tries to get you to see the rosey side of any situation. In actuality, we and most advocates of cognitive approaches do not recommend simplistic denials or rationalizations of real life issues. And the economy is a realistic concern.
But we aren’t suggesting panic either. The problem comes about when you find yourself worrying constantly while carrying around a pervasive sense of doom and dread. That style of thinking doesn’t solve anything. Try setting aside a specified period of time each day, perhaps twenty minutes or so for engaging in “productive” problem solving. Brain storm all of your options in case you lose your job. Consider alternative things you might be able to do and/or what sources of help or support you might have. Once your problem solving time is up though, try to put the worries off until the next scheduled session. If you need to add one more problem solving session during the day, by all means do so. Just don’t exceed a length of time to the point that you’re engaging in anxious rumination without any solutions.
If controlled worry times aren’t enough, do consider buying our book Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies. Sounds self serving doesn’t it? We’re suggesting in today’s economy that you buy it USED for under $2 (we won’t make a dime, but that’s OK!). If our book doesn’t provide enough help, or if your anxiety is already feeling overwhelming, please seek professional help.