Panic-Proof Your Job (Or Lack Thereof)

Finding a job or keeping the one you have depends greatly on your emotional health. That's tough to hear for many job-hunters, who are seeing psychologists more and more. Why? Going to work used to be stressful, but now having no work at all is worse.

Psychologist Nancy Molitor said she's seeing anxiety, panic and even terror in her unemployed clients. "If they have a job, they're having difficulty concentrating on the job," she said. "Anticipatory anxiety is interfering with their ability do deliver the goods, to stay focused."

Jobless or not, Molitor says you have to be vigilant for worried thoughts.

  • "Be mindful that is happening to stop yourself as quickly as you can. Literally, what's helpful is to take a deep breath."
  • Once you divert that cascade of fear, the next step is to stop thinking about yesterday or tomorrow, and focus on what's in front of you.
  • If you have pessimistic colleagues, work on being the opposite. Be the first to stay that extra hour or two. And now more than ever, have a plan B.

Single mom Jenna Eyberger was jobless for four months. She resorted to extreme measures. "I thought it was a sure thing, that you always need accountant, but it didn't turn out that way," she said. "[Now] I do a lot of baby sitting. I've donated plasma. I've been an egg donor."

Cheryl Green and her husband both lost their jobs late last year. He finally found lower paying work, but not before they dipped into their retirement and savings accounts. She's still looking for a job. "I'm in and out of bouts of sadness," she said.

Six weeks ago, Barbara Maldonado was in their shoes, worrying about paying her rent, car payment and other bills.

Mike Kelahan is pursuing plan B. His job vanished six months ago. "For nearly 30 years, I had a career in the real estate business," he said. No more. But he still has a sense of humor and remains hopeful and persistent in his job hunt. "In business, sometimes you're the bug and sometimes you're the windshield," he said.

How are they coping?

  • Kelahan stays focused with a daily schedule, lining out tasks that include a certain amount of time at the computer.
  • Cheryl, meanwhile, has picked up her needle again, volunteering to make tablecloths for her son's school in-between sending out resumes.
  • And Jenna's become the troop leader for her daughter's girl scouts.
  • A daily routine, volunteering and networking -- it worked for Barbara Maldonado. She now has a job for the company that used to walk her dog. "If it all goes well, it'll go full time," she said.
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