Even if we have escaped the horrors of serious symptoms thus far, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down. For millions of people living in the US, one of the Coronavirus’ major impacts, is losing their job. The New York Times reports that the current unemployment rate is literally off the charts. More than 20 million jobs in the United States were lost in April, bringing the unemployment rate close to 15 percent. In line with other countries, the economy has taken one of its biggest hits in modern history.
The vice-chair of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York’s Zucker Hillside Hospital, Dr. Victor Fornari, noted, “Everyone is affected by the pandemic in one way or another. Everyone knows someone who’s been furloughed, laid off, or lost their position. I think people are impacted both directly from the virus as well as indirectly through the economic fallout”
Facing the Unwelcome Facts
New York’s Weill-Cornell School of Medicine’s professor of psychiatry, Dr. Gail Saltz, remarked “There’s real uncertainty. And if you lose your job, how will you get another job in the current situation.” A particularly good question, bearing in mind the colossal losses of both large and small corporations, not to mention pending bankruptcies.
Adding her take, NYC’s Lenox Hill Hospital’s, senior neuropsychologist, Brittany LeMonda, noted, “With work, we feel a greater sense of self-esteem, advocacy, and a sense of purpose. There are monetary reasons and financial reasons for working, but it’s also a way to feel connected to others. So, job loss has a huge impact on several fronts.”
Dealing with Our Anxiety
LeMonda wants those who have been made redundant, to look at how they can draw the line between expressing their anxiety and giving themselves a break. She advocates that allowing ourselves to feel whatever those feelings are; frustration, anxiety or sadness, it is important, but it’s also vital to come to terms with accepting that this is the situation that we’re in right now.
Saltz, on the other hand, recommends distinguishing between productive and unproductive thoughts. One path of worry, while it may cause anxiety, can also lead to problem solving. That’s productive worry, if you will. “I would advise people to think creatively about how to manage their situation.” She does however, caution that productive worry can also veer into stress that’s unproductive.
Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel
And if we continually watch and read about all the gloom and doom of Covid-19 across the planet, then psychologically, it is extremely negative. To that end, restrict watching or reading about Covid-19 news to once or twice per day, and preferably not the last thing at night before you go to bed. Make sure to get your information from reputable sources, as even now, after all these months, confusion still abounds.