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Breaking the Employment Stress Cycle

man with empty pockets

Alexander Kalina/iStockphoto/Thinkstock

In this Article:

  • Worrying about your job status can cause even more stress and lead to health problems.
  • Recognizing and coping with this stress is important to stay healthy and prevent a downward spiral.
  • There are many resources available to help you deal with financial problems and related stress.

If you’ve been hit hard by employment problems, you’re not alone.

From reduced hours to total joblessness, you may find yourself struggling to make ends meet. But financial difficulties can affect more than your pocketbook—they can also wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.

Stress Drives Stress

Worrying about your job status and finances often leads to increased stress and anxiety, which can negatively affect your health in many ways, including:

  • Unhealthy coping behaviors such as drinking, smoking, and overeating
  • Sleep problems  which can lead to moodiness, other health issues like obesity and depression, and difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • Less time and money for self-care including a reduced focus on diet and exercise and fewer trips to the doctor for checkups

As bad as these behaviors are, they have a nasty tendency to lead to further unhealthy choices and negatively impact your overall health. The end result is a downward spiral of more stress, more destructive decisions, and more bad outcomes.

Learning to Cope

To avoid putting yourself on a destructive path, it’s very important to recognize the signs of stress early. Doing so will help you turn a source of anxiety into an opportunity for growth.

Here is a list of DOs and DON’Ts that you can use to help protect your health and make the best of difficult and uncertain financial situations:

  • DO create a budget and take an active role in your financial planning.
  • DON’T cut out healthcare or visits to your doctor to save money—this could cost you more in the end.
  • DO find healthy outlets for stress such as exercise and community service.
  • DON’T fall back on unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking.
  • DO practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.
  • DON’T dwell on the negative aspects of job cutbacks or furloughs. Instead, use the extra time for self-discovery and improvement such as exploring a new hobby, volunteering, nurturing relationships with family members or friends.
  • DO visit and use resources such as:

— Financial counseling and advice for service members and Veterans through efforts such as the Army Financial Readiness Program, VeteransPlus, and Military OneSource.
— Information about managing financial stress provided by trustworthy organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA).
— Professional counseling and support to address short-term stress through Military OneSource and Military Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (8255). Counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you, and all calls are confidential.

If you find yourself in a stressful situation as a result of changes in your job or your finances, remember that you’re not alone. There are many resources available to you to help you cope with the situation and to continue to take care of yourself and your family.