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Coping with job loss in COVID times

by Barbados Today Traffic
5 min read

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on employment in Barbados. And counsellor at the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) Natalia Corbin-I fill, is urging Barbadians to safeguard their mental health.

“We currently are living in an environment where a number of us have been faced with unemployment or job loss. People lose jobs for several reasons ranging from the economic constraints facing the organisation to losing a job due to performance.

For some, we see it coming. In other situations, there may be hints but we are still not sure and in other instances we had no idea. When one experiences job loss, for whatever reason it may be, this can be very emotional or debilitating as one struggles to grapple with what happened,” she said.

Corbin I fill said that the loss of a job can affect persons differently as for some they can easily move on but for others it is hard to cope with the realisation that they have now become unemployed.

“Job loss affects us all differently. For some, they may see it as something that happens in life and can easily move on. For others, it is hard to cope and there are some who experience something in between.

We may experience anger, betrayal, confusion or sadness to the point that we actually cry or bawl.
We may experience grief, helplessness, emptiness, disappointment, shame, embarrassment, desolation, among other emotions and there may even be some who experience relief.

The impact will be different based on the support system we have, the number of financial commitments that are present, other stressors occurring in our lives, our resilience, how optimistic we are, among other factors,” she said.

The councilor at the National Council on Substance Abuse shared some strategies that persons can use to cope with the loss of their job. “To help us get through this ordeal here are a few tips to help us cope:

1. Give yourself time to grieve– Grief or loss can present itself in many forms not just the loss of a person but it can present itself in the loss of a job, a home, animals etc.
Experiencing grief due to the loss of a job is normal and should not be belittled. If you must cry, by all means cry.

2. Reframe your perspective on the situation – As you adjust do not beat yourself up. Do not be unkind to yourself because according to Smith, Segal, and Robinson (2021) we need to have self-confidence as we search for new jobs.

Therefore, we must challenge the negative thoughts that go through our minds, those negative things we say to ourselves such as ‘I will never get out of this mess.’ I also liked what Smith, Segal, and Robinson (2021) had to say as they sought to reframe job loss. They said, ‘think of your job loss as a temporary setback.’

3. Networking Here you talk to professionals, employers, supervisors, lecturers, family members, neighbours, church members or friends to learn more about them and their work. You talk to them, so they learn more about you and become aware of your employment situation. You can talk to them to learn more about various careers, the current job market and to gain career tips.

4. Volunteer – If possible, identify a charity or an organisation that offers a service you are interested in, a service you may be passionate about and inquire about the opportunity to volunteer there. Apply!
This is an opportunity for you to engage in something meaningful, to occupy your time, to gain some work experience, to help others and to network.

5. Take care of yourself. Losing a job can be very stressful impacting ones mental and physical health. To get into another job we need to maintain our overall health and our sense of self.
Make sure you are eating healthy foods and you are exercising daily. We need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Exercise is not only advantageous for its physical benefits, but it plays a role in reducing our stress hormones (e.g., cortisol and adrenaline) and triggering the release of endorphins.

6. Reflect on your positives – Spend time daily or weekly reflecting on the things you like about yourself, the things you are good at, your accomplishments and your strengths.
This is an activity to build your self-esteem and to maintain your motivation.

7. Learn a new skill – Here you can make yourself more marketable and you can widen your career opportunities. This may require applying to a programme of study. As money may be a concern, there are opportunities in Barbados to cover the financial cost associated with these programmes of study.

8. Identify a Support System- Reach out to family members, friends, or other loved ones who you know will listen and be there to support you during this time. Let them know your concerns and tell them your needs.

According to Alberta (2021) a support system is there to “provide encouragement and suggestions, offer feedback, share personal experiences that may help you understand and deal with your own situation, teach you new skills, give you help and expertise, direct you to services and resources that can help, make you laugh and get your mind off your troubles and help you stay positive.”

9. Speak to a counsellor, psychologists, or a psychiatrist- If none of the above helps, contact a professional in the field of mental health ºwho can provide assistance in helping you deal with the psychological impact of losing a job,” she said.
Corbin-I fill reminded persons that they can call the National Council on Substance Abuse at 535-6272, 832-9120 or 832-9121. (PR)

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