Managing workplace stress in today’s economy

We constantly read and hear about unemployment in the news. If you haven’t been affected personally, undoubtedly you know someone who has lost his or her job.
  
At JF&CS, we saw a 55% increase in the number of individuals turning to our Career Development Center (CDC) for help this past fiscal year. We know there are many more people looking for work who could benefit from our extensive services. Please visit careerdevelopmentcenter.org or call our CDC at 412.422.5627 to learn more.   
  
What we don’t read about in the news as often are the layoff survivors, those people who retain their jobs amid company cut-backs. For this population, there can be much concern for themselves, but also what we call survivor’s guilt. How will I be able to handle all of the extra work left behind? What if I’m next? Should I be looking for another job, and how will I find one in this economy?
  
In addition to our CDC, JF&CS operates Squirrel Hill Psychological Services (SHPS). At SHPS, our team of therapists provides confidential consultations on a variety of individual and family issues.
  
I asked SHPS therapist Bari Benjamin, LCSW, BCD, who co-facilitates the CDC’s bi-weekly Job Seeker Support Group, to share some tips for people concerned about their employment. Read on for more.
  
1. Acknowledge your feelings but don’t dwell. Hearing about budget cuts and colleague layoffs can cause uncertainty and fear. It’s healthy to be aware of your feelings, but ruminating only increases anxiety.
  
2. Prioritize your workload. Arrive at work a few minutes early to review your schedule and to-do list. And take a break! Chances are you’ll increase your productivity, if you physically take yourself away for even 20 minutes over lunch or outside for some fresh air.
  
3. Polish your communication skills. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor or management to set goals, especially if your workload increases. Maintaining a positive, open dialogue may help to reassure your seat at the table.
  
4. Take care. During times of increased stress, remember to take care of yourself. A full night’s sleep, light exercise and healthy food can work to decrease anxiety and improve mood.
  
5. Reach out for help. If you’re feeling persistently overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, a therapist may be able to help you develop the tools to cope. Call Squirrel Hill Psychological Services at 412.521.3800 for a confidential consultation.
  
                                      – Bari Benjamin, LCSW, BCD
                                     Squirrel Hill Psychological Services
  
Additionally, our CDC recommends that layoff survivors review and update their resumes, current skill sets and networking contacts. In today’s economy it’s critical that one’s prepared for change at any time.
  
Look for more news on our CDC services later this week.
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