How to Cope with Being Furloughed (And the Prospect of Redundancy)
By Dr Becky Spelman
The concept of being furloughed is a term that many people are only just becoming acquainted with, but it has been used in the United States for many years and even existed in the UK for several decades. However, it’s only now that it’s being brought into effect such are the circumstances that we’re facing at the moment. To be furloughed is essentially an involuntary leave of absence while still receiving 80% of your wage being subsidised by the government. It doesn’t appear to be a negative situation on the at first glance. But there are aspects of coping with being furloughed that can cause mental and emotional instability in what’s already challenging situation to navigate.
The economy is in a precarious position at the moment. And despite many companies offering their employees furlough pay, their future is far from certain. There’s no telling if many employers will be around come the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. It creates a lot of stress at all levels of the company – particularly in those in entry-level roles who might not have savings to fall back on. For some, there may not be a company to go back to let alone the position they once held. In effect, their future is completely out of their hands. It’s this sense of decreased personal control that can hit the hardest, which often leads to anxiety and depression once reality sets in. This can be further exacerbated if you’ve been laid off completely. Not only are you required to wait out the virus, but the safety net of furlough you thought you would receive had now been taken away from you.
The financial aspect of the virus has been one of the hardest to negotiate. The government has been doing their best to put systems in place. But it’s taking a while to set up the specialised departments needed to accommodate the torrent of incoming requests for support. This is obviously the best course of action to take to take to meet your immediate physical needs such as food and accommodation. You should take advantage of whatever benefits you can and not be too proud to take them. They’re available for a reason.
But what about the mental and emotional aspect of your health? It may be a little unrealistic to expect everyone to dive headfirst in the realm of self-improvement. The loss of a job and hence your security can take a heavy toll and come with a certain element of grief attached to it. Before you’re able to do anything that might be considered ‘productive,’ you first need to improve your mood. Focus on yourself. Take the time you have at your disposal to do things that please you – whatever they are – and more than anything, try and keep yourself occupied.
It’s important to have some perspective during the down period you may be experiencing. You’re safe. You’re not being asked to work on frontlines in essential services such as the NHS or supermarkets. And that should at least provide a modicum of comfort. What is also worth highlighting is the tendency to self-medicate. It’s understandable that some people may want to unwind and alleviate stress with a drink or two at the best of time. But over the long-term, it not advisable to suppress your emotions with any kind of substances. A tough as it may be, we all have to face our reality.
It’s at times like this when it pays to acknowledge the things you do have in your life. Gratitude is an often-overused sentiment within self-improvement. But it’s a cliché for a reason. It holds a lot of value. As much as you may be restricted at the moment, there is always someone worse off than yourself. And as long as you’re reading this article, you remain free of the terrible effects of the virus itself, which has to be worth more than any amount of money.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
***If you’re struggling with the stress of being furloughed during the COVID-19 outbreak and think you might benefit from speaking to someone, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here.
Psychology Today. (30th May 2010) Life on Furlough: Can your life go on if you don’t show up?. Retrieved on 21st April, 2020 from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/nz/blog/because-im-the-mom/201005/life-furlough-can-your-life-go-if-you-don-t-show?amp
Mental Health UK. (2018) Supporting Employees on Furlough Retrieved on 21st April, 2020 from, https://mentalhealth-uk.org/blog/supporting-employees-on-furlough/
Working Families. (16th Apr 2020) Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Furlough and redundancy. Retrieved on 21st April, 2020 from, https://workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/coronavirus-furlough/
How to Cope with Being Furloughed (And the Prospect of Redundancy) was last modified: January 7th, 2021 by Dr Becky Spelman
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