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A Psychologist’s guide to coping with redundancy

Published: Tuesday 5th May 2020

Are you worried about being made redundant?

Anxiety, stress and worry are currently at an all-time high, and no wonder. With most of the workforce furloughed or already made redundant, these are incredibly worrying times. With no guarantee that furlough will not eventually lead to redundancy and no sign of the lock-down easing, how do we remain positive?

Being made redundant from work, packing up items into a box

Why do you worry more than most?

The foundation for all worry and anxiety is the idea of uncertainty. As humans, what we find incredibly difficult to manage is the not knowing and feeling out of control. We call this an inability to tolerate uncertainty. We need things to be black and white and certain to feel that we are winning at life, even if sometimes we are not. Have you ever noticed that some people just aren’t worried by things like redundancy, things that would send you into total meltdown?

My world is out of control

It is all about feeling in control of your future. ‘Control’ has such negative connotations but actually we’re all happiest when we feel in control of ourselves and our life. When something happens that is out of your control, i.e. redundancy, this can trigger a stress reaction and we feel worried and anxious.

Woman worrying about being made redundant

So how do you take back control?

There are practical things you can do to feel in control of your world; notice I used the word ‘feel.’ Control is imaginary; it is never real and tangible, so we have to do things that make us ‘feel’ in control. If you have already been made redundant, get yourself registered with one of the better recruitment agencies or online job boards such as Zoek.

Even if you have not been made redundant yet, but think it is possible, get yourself registered as there is no harm in looking. Enrol on a course to update your skills, there are many you can do online that cost very little. Realising that your dream job is out there, right now can be very reassuring. Most importantly, feeling like you are being proactive will put you back in charge.

Developing resilience

People that seem impervious to stress and worry have a very effective coping mechanism; they have a cast-iron belief in their ability to cope. People that cope well with the bumps and bruises of life always feel in control because they know they will cope. They are not just positive for the sake of being positive, which would be unrealistic.

Those of you who know that you worry and often suffer with stress and anxiety may be the ones who are being unrealistic. You may feel that running worst case scenario keeps you safe, but have you ever stopped to think about how unrealistic worst-case scenario is? How often has worst case scenario actually happened? Pull yourself back from running the absolute worst and balance your future forecasting with a more realistic view of the future.

Man embracing resilience after being made redundant, searching for a new job

In a nutshell

If you have already been made redundant or see it looming on the horizon, decide that you’re not going to react in your normal anxious, worried way. This is how to do it differently.

  • Take back control by being proactive rather than reactive
  • Develop resilience
  • Be more realistic rather than running worst case scenario
  • Remind yourself of all the times you have coped and can do now
  • Register with a good recruitment agency or job board

Author bio: Wendy Dignan is an award winning psychologist with a private practice and an online course, Fearless Female, that helps women overcome anxiety and worry.

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