Did you know that getting laid off can be as bad for your health as it is for your pocketbook? Research shows that the trauma of losing one’s job can create some adverse health risks. That’s next next on SelfPerspective.
My wife is a magazine ripper. If she sees an article or recipe that interests her, she will rip it out. In the old days, when we still received the actual New York Times newspaper, versus the digital edition that now comes to my iPad, I would always try to grab it first before pages or parts of pages would disappear. But I must confess, there are times when she finds some interesting articles for me. That was the case during a recent visit to the doctor’s office. We were the last ones in the waiting room when I heard the familiar sound of a page being torn from a magazine. When I protested she pointed out that the lobby was filled with multiple copies of the same issue of the WebMD magazine. The story she ripped was actually an interesting piece on the Trauma of Job Loss. And she was right, there were 15 or 20 copies of that edition lying around the waiting room.
Anyone who has lost a job will attest to the fact that it is one of life’s most traumatic events, after death, a major illness, divorce or detention in jail.
This particular article pointed to a study from the American Institute of Stress that said those who experience long-term unemployment have poorer health across a wide spectrum of medical and psychiatric issues as well as higher mortality and suicide rates.
Robert Leahy, PhD, clinical professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry at Weill-Cornell University Medical College at New York -Presbyterian Hospital said this: “Unemployment is not simply a statistical figure, It’s about human beings, their families and their future. And the facts are not comforting.”
Dr. Leahy, citing several recent studies, said the unemployed have greater risks for developing depression, insomnia, anxiety, feelings of helplessness, low self-esteem, malnutrition, cardiovascular conditions — especially heart attacks — as well as alcoholism, increased smoking and generally poor physical health.
A study by the Pew Charitable Trust indicates the unemployed also are at greater risk for drug abuse, marital stress and engaging in criminal activity.
And it is not just losing your job that is unhealthy, Dr. Leahy said the threat of losing your job — the whole process of thinking about unemployment — leads to increases in cholesterol levels.
Here is the most alarming part: “Unemployment eventually kills some people,” Dr. Leahy said. “Long-term mortality rates are higher for people who have previously been unemployed.”
In one study conducted at the Karoslinska ( CAR O LIN SKA) Institute in Stockholm, found that the unemployed suffered from significant increases in suicides, injuries and accidents. Even when you factor in the unrelated health and demographic differences for the unemployed, the increase in mortality is a shocking 47 percent.
So, clearly there is more to being out of work than finding your next better job. Your health is important. Neglecting it during this period of transition is really not an option.
In my more than 20 years of advising some of the top executives in the healthcare industry, I have come to understand and appreciate the emotional toll that a RIF or termination can have on an individual. The reason for the separation is not important. The toll it takes on executives is still significant. Walking to your car with your box of personal items, knowing that this is probably the last time you will be on this campus, almost always brings an initial feeling of profound sadness — of friends and accomplishments left behind.
For some, there are feelings of shame, especially if the separation is for cause or professional performance. But to be honest, this is an emotion that impacts almost everyone, regardless of the reason for the unemployment. If you think this is a bit of a reach, ask those you know who have been unemployed and, if they are truly honest with you, they, too, will admit that being out of work prompts feelings of inadequacy and that plays to the issue of shame.
The takeaway, even if you were fired, its that many people have suffered through this indignity and have gone on to thrive in their career. Their sheer determination, their positive outlook and a solid plan of action made the difference.
You will also encounter grief. And possibly anger. These, too, are normal reactions. Take some time to deal with them. Get professional help if you feel the need. There are stages to grief, so allow yourself to move through those but always keep your eye on the ball, that you will survive, and you will emerge on the other side a better person. You must believe that and work to that end every day.
Being out of a job can bring about feelings of hopelessness, especially after you have not been selected in three or four searches. One executive describe it as a powerful feeling that you will never find another job. But do not let that dominate your life. It is simply not true. But our minds can play some real debilitating games when we are depressed and frustrated. Take some time every day to worry about stuff and then close the closet door, tell yourself you can deal with those issues at a specific time later in the week or next week, and move forward with your job search.
Here is your takeaway on this issue: Do not deny your emotions, but do not let them take control. Give yourself time to grieve. Provide time for yourself to worry and think about options, but investing all your time on these negative issues is a bad idea. Twenty minutes a day for worry is about the right amount of time, Dr. Leahy believes. You must challenge the negative feelings, especially one called hopelessness, according to Dr. Leahy.
Dr. Leahy also says that one way to control the emotions — the ups and downs of your job search — is to have a daily plan. I advise my outplacement clients to establish a daily routine and begin each day — and this is critically important — thinking about and journaling those things for which you are grateful. That is so important. There will be some disappointments, some bitterly disappointing rejections. That is part of the job search process. If you allow those to severely impact your emotional balance, you could possibly prolong your job search. That is why you need to look for those things that you are grateful for. This must be part of your daily routine. You also need to schedule your time. Don’t begin each day hoping something will happen. Plan your day so that you advance your goal of finding your next better job.
Our take away here is this: Establishing a daily routine that begins with journaling gratitude is key to staying on top of the emotional roller coaster that can contribute to those adverse health issues.
Take care of yourself. As part of your daily routine include physical exercise — working out at a gym, jogging or walking. This will help candidates mitigate the impact of stress and depression. People who regularly exercise tend to maintain a more positive outlook and a higher level of energy and that, too, is critical.
Be flexible. Be open to different kinds of jobs and moving to new markets. Relocation can contribute to marital stress. It is important to have honest discussions with your spouse and family on these issues. But many out of work executives hurt their careers by being inflexible regarding jobs they will take or where they will live.
The takeaway here is that executives must come to grips with the fact that the job market has changed dramatically over the last three to five years. Executives who adapt and who are flexible stand a better chance of finding their next job in a more timely manner.
Now, here are two more career management tips for this week:
First, think twice before you have a resume writer develop your resume. I recently heard a recruiter say that although one of their applicants had a great reputation, he did not seem to be closely acquainted with his resume. That comment really resonates with me based on the thousands of interviews that I have conducted. Candidates who develop their own resumes with the help of a coach seem to be much more focused and effective in their responses to interviewer questions versus executives who rely on professional resume writers. There is an odd disconnect between the document and their performance in the interview. We provide our clients with a format and guidance, but we do not write their resumes for them. We want our candidates to be intimately connected with the information and own this important career management component. Top of mind awareness is critical to success.
And finally today:
Job candidates should keep a daily journal, tracking people they have called and why they placed the call. I cannot tell you how many times I have returned a candidate’s call and it was clear they were confused. They had forgotten about which specific search they called me. There is the embarrassing silence and obvious confusion. Sometimes they figure it out quickly but many do not. That is bad mistake that candidates cannot afford to make in a very competitive job market. So keep your daily journal and review at the end of each and at the start of the next. Pay attention to your list of calls, which ones are still outstanding and about which project you called the recruiter.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for listening. If you plan to attend the American College of Healthcare Executives Congress next week in Chicago, I hope you will attend my session on interviewing skills for senior executives. It is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at the Hyatt Regency. Our enrollment is approaching 100 so if you have not signed up, be sure to do so.
And don’t forget tomorrow’s blog post. We focus on the myth in many rural and community hospitals that employees subconsciously believe they do not have to worry as much about quality, service and patient satisfaction as their big city counterparts, because “everyone knows everyone.” The blog post is headlined Rural Healthcare’s False Equivalency. You can read the post at JohnGSelf.Com or on LinkedIn
And be sure to subscribe to our weekly video on career management on YouTube. It airs every Saturday morning.
If you have questions or suggestions, you can reach me at AsktheRecruiter@JohnGSelf.Com.
We are here to help you.
Thanks and I will talk to you next week from Chicago.
© 2020 John Gregory Self