February 25, 2009

Naked man startles all of us

Posted in Between Us column, Employment, Women at 2:51 am by dinaheng

My friend Scott and I were walking back to his car after seeing a movie at a popular  shopping center. As we approached the car, we saw a police car parked next to his, which was surrounded by uniformed officers and mall security. On the ground was a man’s shoe, and on the trunk was a cell phone or pager.

We found out that security had spotted a naked man trying to open the door of the car, claiming it was his. Looking over at the squad car, we could see that police had managed to help the guy get dressed, except for his shoes.

“He’s not drunk,” the security chief said, indicating that the fellow might have had a mental breakdown.

Many things are breaking down as we deal with an economy that has forced all of us to cut back on expenses and look at what’s really important in our lives. Every day, thousands of people are being laid off across the country, and those still with jobs are worried about whether they’ll lose them.

As we see more people grappling with being on the edge financially, we’re likely to   see more anxiety-driven behavior. Whether it’s an increase in road rage, or a naked man trying to get into your car, the behavior is likely to be startling.

Prof. Kristin Byron, who teaches at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, specializes in work-life balance issues, and says the uncertainty of these economic times is likely to cause spillover  anxiety from work into the home, and from home into the office.

“The key is to concentrate on what you can control,” Byron says. “You can’t control not being laid off, but you can start thinking about what you can do if it happens. Make contingency plans. Think about what you’ll do if you have to take a salary reduction. A lot of people hole up and ignore the problem. But these situations require being pro-active.”

Byron advises working out a budget to see what expenses can be cut. Don’t take on new debt, and make sure that people at work know your accomplishments. Whatever your job title, she suggests putting yourself in a role where the company would be hurt if you were let go.

“Be a good team player,” she says. “If you have to work more and spend less at work, do it without complaining. It will set you apart from other employees in a positive way. If you fear for your employment, look at next steps. Is it retraining, moving to another industry, or starting your own business?”

When people are laid off, those who remain often have a sense of loss that their colleagues are gone, along with some guilt that they still have a job.

“There’s the fear that maybe ‘my time’ will be next.,” Byron says. “It’s normal to feel all this. Change is tremendously difficult, and being in a firm that’s laying off employees in these economic times is very stressful.”

So don’t ignore any stress that you may be feeling. Talk to people who can provide emotional support. Take control of anxious moments by channeling them into conscious efforts to exercise more, eat healthier food, and get enough rest.

When you stay healthier, you can deal better with whatever comes your way. Most of all, have faith that things will get better, because they will. The economy will recover.  We just have to get past the fear and the politics, and start putting people back to work.

And that’s the naked truth.

–Published by Gannett News Service

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: