Coping with Financial Loss and Uncertainty
Coping with Financial Loss and Uncertainty
Financial loss and uncertainty are something that we all may have to deal with in our lives. Especially now, with a large proportion of the population out of work and unable to find new employment due to the pandemic and many small businesses suffering huge losses, more and more people are without work.
As you can imagine, there can be significant psychological implications of losing a steady source of your income. Many psychologists have researched this area for the very reason that financial loss can be a large catalyst in an individual developing anxiety and/or depression. Losing financial security can even elicit physical symptoms such as sleep disruption, loss of appetite, muscle tension, fatigue etc.
Additionally, for many of us, our occupations give us a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives, they can even become our identities and part of who we are. When introducing ourselves to people we say, “I’m a teacher, I’m a barman, I’m an artist”, our careers can be who we are not just what we do. When this is taken away, it can be very difficult to adjust. We may feel lost and not like ourselves.
The situation many people are finding themselves in now as a result of the pandemic is obviously unique but could still illicit some of these responses in people.
So how can people best cope with losing their jobs and the financial uncertainty that comes along with it?
- Retaining a strong sense of self-
Studies have found that those who had a strong sense of identity outside of their work coped better with job loss than those who felt their job was their identity. Perhaps finding an activity that allows you to use the skills you have acquired in your role could give you this sense of meaning and purpose you are missing.
- Avail of any supports that are available to you-
Thankfully in Ireland, an emergency COVID-19 payment has been made available to financially support those who have lost work due to this crisis. Seeking out supports like this as well as the social and emotional support from friends and family are key to coping effectively with financial loss or uncertainty. Many communities have demonstrated great kindness in supporting one another so if you are struggling don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
- Make a weekly/monthly budget-
As we don’t know how long the current situation will last it is difficult to plan financially in the long term. It is better for now to plan week to week how much money you will need to live and adjust accordingly. It may be reassuring to remember that you won’t have the usual expenses like transport costs, childcare and money spent on socialising if you are isolating in your home.
- Don’t fall into unhealthy coping behaviours-
When under financial stress, many people can turn to unhealthy coping habits such as drinking, smoking or emotional eating. If you find yourself engaging in any of these behaviours excessively when you are under financial pressure, perhaps reach out to someone in your social support network or a counsellor.
- Try to find healthy coping behaviours to occupy your time-
Try writing down any thoughts and worries you may be having. If they are problems, you can solve writing them down is the first step in tackling these tasks. If you can’t solve these issues right now it will at least get your worries off your chest slightly. Try to get some physical exercise. Moving your body is a great way to relieve stress and boost your mood in this difficult time. Recognize your resilience, acknowledge that you will get through this and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in your situation. Talk to other people that you know are in a similar position and share your worries and fears with them.
- Under the Rainbow are currently offering an online counselling servie. Please feel free to contact us for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can get through this.
- Under The Rainbow will also be hosting a webinar entitled “Introduction to Income Tax for the Self Employed “. The webinar will be held this Friday, May 8th @ 6.30pm. Click here to purchase tickets for the event.
American Psychological Association. (2017). Dealing with financial stress. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-finances
Bennett, N., Martin, C. L., Bies, R. J., & Brockner, J. (1995). Coping with a layoff: A longitudinal study of victims. Journal of Management, 21(6), 1025-1040.
Sadeh, N., & Karniol, R. (2012). The sense of self-continuity as a resource in adaptive coping with job loss. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(1), 93-99.
Sturgeon, J. A., Arewasikporn, A., Okun, M. A., Davis, M. C., Ong, A. D., & Zautra, A. J. (2016). The psychosocial context of financial stress: Implications for inflammation and psychological health. Psychosomatic Medicine, 78(2), 134.
Weller, S. A. (2012). Financial stress and the long-term outcomes of job loss. Work, employment and society, 26(1), 10-25.