Spring 2009 
 Mind Your Health
 Information for Healthy Living
In This Issue
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I hope you find the following articles helpful. To read similar articles visit the APA Help Center. APA's Help Center is your online resource for brochures, tips and articles on the psychological issues that affect your physical and emotional well-being, as well as information about referrals.

 Staying Hopeful After a Job Loss

Layoff stress Beyond providing us with an income, jobs can serve multiple roles in our lives, such as providing us with a sense of identity and purpose. In these challenging economic times, those who are laid off or facing a potential job loss can find themselves feeling significant stress. In fact, according to an April 2009 poll by the American Psychological Association, 82 percent of American workers whose employers have instituted layoffs report that their stress has increased in the past year as a result of employment changes in their household.

Those who lose their job may feel shocked, sad, angry and fearful, asking themselves anxiously, "What do I do next?" It's a good question to ask-especially with a hopeful, positive attitude. Staying open to new opportunities is one way to lessen worries and move on with your job search, psychologists recommend. Whether you've worked with an employer for less than a year or more than 20 years, change is a constant in life and workplace change is no exception.

It may seem frightening to make a fresh start. But accepting a new job, switching to a different industry, returning to school or starting your own business doesn't have to mean an overhaul of your identity. Rather, you are finding a new setting in which your skills and strengths are valued and useful. Here are some things you can do to get through the hardship of losing a job and looking for a new one:

Take action right away. It may be tempting to consider a layoff a mini vacation and initially enjoy watching daytime television in your pajamas. After all, it can be a struggle to build the motivation needed to look for a new job. But some research has found that people who wait ultimately have regrets. Those who are successful are the ones who start planning and searching immediately after their final day of work, if not before.

Connect with those around you. It could be tempting to sit at a computer for hours, zapping off your resume to every job opening you can find. But most people find their jobs through a network of people they know. Keep in touch with former co-workers, classmates and friends-anyone who cares about the outcome of your job search. Online social networks can be a valuable way to connect and let people know of your job search. Such a network might serve as both the link to your next job and a critical source of support along the way.

Keep your eyes-and mind-open to new opportunities. Be curious and engage the world around you. Talk to friends about the work they do, attend free seminars and workshops in your community, volunteer for a few hours a week for a cause that means something to you. Sometimes a job opportunity will find you when you aren't looking. And you may discover you'd enjoy work that is different than what you've done previously.

Take care of yourself. You may not feel like doing much of anything. Or you want to spend every moment pouring over job listings. Give yourself a break from the search-go for a walk, meet up with a friend, read a book. Pay attention to how you are managing your stress-some people are more likely to relieve stress by turning to unhealthy activities like smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating. Be alert to these behaviors.

Ask for professional support. Job placement agencies and college career offices are two services available to help you find a new job. If you continue to be overwhelmed by stress or find it increasingly difficult to cope with your feelings about job loss, you may want to talk with a psychologist who can help you address your concerns and manage life's changes.

Special thanks to APA member Dr. Chris Ebberwein for help with this article. Updated May 2009


 Parenting: Being Supermom Stressing You Out?

super mom Mothers are the world's best jugglers: family, work, money-they seem to do it all. However, all that responsibility can often leave moms feeling overstretched and stressed out. According to a 2006 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), women are more affected by stress than men and report engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as comfort eating, poor diet choices, smoking, and inactivity to help deal with stress. The same survey showed women report feeling the effects of stress on their physical health more than men. With Mother's Day fast approaching, it's a good time for moms and their families to recognize the importance of addressing stress and managing it in healthy ways.

"How a mother manages stress is often a model for the rest of the family," says APA psychologist Lynn Bufka, Ph.D. "Other family members will imitate her unhealthy behavior."

Women are also more likely to take on the high- anxiety role of health care manager for the family. APA 2006 survey results indicate that stress is higher among family health care decision makers-17 percent of people who report being the primary health care decision makers are very concerned about stress versus 11 percent of those whose spouse or partner takes care of these matters-and that women disproportionately serve that role for their families (73 percent versus 40 percent of men).

"It's particularly stressful to be the family's health manager, making health care decisions for yourself, your children, and possibly aging parents," says Bufka. "People who handle stress in unhealthy ways may alleviate symptoms of stress in the short term, but end up creating significant health problems over time, and, ironically, more stress."

APA offers these strategies to help mothers manage stress:

  • Understand how you experience stress - Everyone experiences stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed? How are your thoughts or behaviors different from times when you do not feel stressed?
  • Identify stressors - What events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to your children, family health, financial decisions, work, relationships or something else?
  • Recognize how you deal with stress -Determine if you are using unhealthy behaviors to cope with the stress of motherhood. Is this a routine behavior, or is it specific to certain events or situations? Do you make unhealthy choices as a result of feeling rushed and overwhelmed, such as stopping for fast food while running errands or picking up your kids? Put things in perspective-make time for what's really important. Prioritize and delegate responsibilities. Identify ways your family and friends can lessen your load so that you can take a break. Delay or say no to less important tasks.
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress - Consider healthy, stress- reducing activities-taking a short walk, exercising, or talking things out with friends or family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Don't take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time.
  • Ask for professional support - Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to persevere during stressful times. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist who can help you manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.

"Mothers often put their family needs first and neglect their own," says Bufka. "It's okay to relax your standards-don't put a lot of pressure on yourself to have the "perfect" house or be the "perfect" mother. No one expects you to be Superwoman."

American Psychological Association - Copyright 2007


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Dr. Given
Dennis Given, Psy.D. - Psychologist & Director
Psychology Associates of Chester County

phone: (610) 873-4748
fax: (610) 873-4715
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