When the economy tightens and job opportunities shrink, what happens to our relationships?
Hard times have hit the economy and workplaces all over the country are feeling it. People start to wonder how secure their jobs are. Businesses go under or downsize or streamline and jobs disappear or change.
So what happens to our relationships and our well being while the workplace mentally battens down the hatches?
Job loss ranks right up there with the death of a partner for a long lasting hit to personal well being. Feeling caught in a job that doesn’t suit, but unable to find a better niche is fairly grim too. In this job climate you tend to worry, “What will they change next?” “How do I do a better job with fewer resources?” “Is my job safe?”
You fret about work and stop paying attention at home.
It’s a natural enough reaction; you focus on what seems like the biggest threat. But what if it’s only the most obvious one? It’s risky to ignore your partner, your children, and your close friends. It’s likely they’ll forgive you for a while. Probably for as long as it takes for temporary distraction to start feeling like long term neglect.
If you don’t explain your behaviour it’s quite likely your family and friends won’t understand it. If you’re preoccupied, how will they know if you’re thinking about work or thinking about someone you’d rather be with? If you’re tired and irritable how will they know if you’re stressed about work, or annoyed with something they’ve done?
The pressures at and about work are real and you do have to deal with them. Just don’t do it in isolation from your nearest and dearest. You will worry, stress and hurt your partner far more by shutting them out than by sharing your concerns.
Keeping your partner in the loop is important, but its only part of what’s needed. Work stress at work, plus work stress at home adds up to a very dismal and frazzled existence. You need an antidote to all that gloom. And your close relationships can give you plenty of material to work with.
To keep work stress in proportion, you want to pay it enough attention to deal with it, but not so much that you dwell on it and feel down. Then you deliberately increase your focus on the many enjoyable and satisfying elements in your life to provide a balance. Most people are naturally better at worrying, so need to be quite determined to savour the good things instead.
Positive Psychology researcher Martin Seligman suggests a 3 good things exercise. Every evening, make a note of three things that went well that day, and why. It gives you a structured way to get practice at focusing on all the things that go well for you.
You could do this with your partner, giving you a regular conversation about something positive. If you’re dealing with work stress then you might find that your relationship is a rich source of good things. Likewise your kids, your friends, and your non-work activities. And even when work is worrying, the odd thing might go well.
None of this is a solution to job loss. Its just that however bad things are on the work front, making things bad at home as well won’t help. Feeling depressed or stressed doesn’t improve your chances of dealing with the situation.
Keep the close people in your life close. The economy may be in trouble, but your relationships don’t have to be. If you want help to keep your relationships intact while the economy is falling apart look in contact us for a counsellor to work with you.