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Give Yourself a Break, Coping with Job Loss is not Easy

As Alaska officially begins the winding down of some of the emergency mandates put into effect during the current Covid-19 pandemic, the negative effects of a slow economy are still pronounced.  Many families in the southeast region are struggling with lost revenue to their businesses, reduced hours (euphemistically referred to as ‘idled’), or even complete job loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unemployment Likely to Cause Symptoms of Unease

Additionally, social distancing mandates required nonessential workers to isolate at home, eliminating the positive interactions and validations that may have come from a working environment.  For some, the isolation and stress can even lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.  According to a 2014 Gallup poll, the longer a person experiences unemployment in the United States, the more likely they are to report symptoms of psychological unease.  For people who are without a job for a year or more, 20% will seek treatment for depression.

This response is totally understandable.  A job is often linked to a person’s sense of self-worth and identity.  To be without a healthy persona for an extended period can be quite devastating.  Indeed, it is normal to feel grief after a job loss or life-altering changes such as isolating social-distancing mandates in the same way a person might grieve the loss of a friend or loved one.

But there is hope.

While uncomfortable, it is important to reflect on this Covid-19 situation and the feelings surrounding it as temporary, and a job is not a reflection of a person’s value.  Remember, Southeast Alaskans will get through this.

It might be helpful to adopt some of the following stress reduction tactics:

Stress Reduction Tactics

  • Remember to breathe. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
  • Get outside. Walking, cycling, or hiking are great ways to stay fit and reduce stress and can be done while still maintaining social distancing recommendations from the CDC.
  • Keep a journal. Write down how you are feeling and what this is like.  It will be good for you to reflect on your feelings and look forward to a time soon when this situation is different.
  • Create something. Pick up a craft or project that gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Help others. Many community groups are mobilizing to get food and necessities to those who are quarantined or in need.  Helping others can ease your own burdens.

Help for you and your family is available, and it is totally normal to seek it out. The SEARHC Helpline, 1.877.294.0074, is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to residents of Southeast Alaska. The crisis call center is staffed with a team of master’s degree level mental health therapists who will listen and provide effective, compassionate, and confidential care.

If you don’t have health insurance, SEARHC’s Patient Health Benefits team is available to answer patient coverage questions. For assistance, please contact outreach@searhc.org or call 907.966.8662.

If you would like to schedule a one-on-one counseling visit, contact SEARHC Behavioral Health at 907.966-8611.

It’s okay not to feel okay.  This situation will change though, and we will all be stronger for it.

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The SEARHC Crisis Help Line, 1.877.294.0074, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to residents of Southeast Alaska.