Coping with job loss and uncertainty

Relaxation and meditation are excellent tools for reassessment and gathering strength in times of uncertainty.

by Dalena Watson — 

In these times of economic uncertainty and widespread job loss, many of us who normally cope well with the stressors of life are beginning to suffer from anxiety and/or depression. While you may not have had a choice in leaving your job or taking a reduction in pay, there are some areas you can control. It is important to reassess your situation, gather strength, make a plan to move forward and sustain your enthusiasm to implement the plan.

Relaxation and meditation are excellent tools for reassessment and gathering strength in times of uncertainty. To train yourself in relaxation, it is beneficial to try different strategies, adapt them to fit your style and interests, then put them to use, even when you feel calm. Also remember that one size does not fit all, so keep at it to see which plan will suit you best.

The following are excellent options for relaxation and meditation.

Use deep breathing (natural breathing/belling breathing): This allows the diaphragm to drop (creating a vacuum in the lungs) and pushes the belly area out during inhalation. It may help to learn this lying down with your hands on your abdomen. Imagine filling your lungs from the bottom up and feeling your abdomen expanding. On exhalation, the abdomen relaxes. Try this for 10 breaths. Increase to 10 minutes.

Use a word/breath meditation: Choose any two words that have special meaning for you (example: love and peace). As you breathe in, mentally repeat the first word, exhale and mentally repeat the second word.

Meditative movement such as yoga, tai chi and chi gong are all excellent methods of becoming more focused and self-aware, and these practices will instill a sense of well-being. Look for classes, books or DVDs to help learn these practices.

Benefits of relaxation include:

  • Responding to events with decreased stress and anxiety
  • Thinking more clearly
  • Accessing insights
  • Reassessing your situation
  • Increasing productivity

These strategies can be effective even when used only a few minutes a day. It is always better to do some than none at all. Happy relaxing.


Dalena Watson is a licensed professional counselor and board-certified music therapist, in Chandler, Ariz. She assists people with life transitions, healing past hurts and wholeness and teaches in the forensic psychology program at Argosy University. 602-686-3723 or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 2, Apr/May 2009.

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