Taboo Topic Among Unemployed? We're Really Angry
I haven't seen too many articles about anger in connection with unemployment, especially long-term unemployment. So I thought I'd write one.
Now and then, I do feel angry. Angry that I was laid off, angry that I can't find my "dream" job no matter what I do, angry that my chances of finding a job diminish with every passing day, angry that I'm forced to spend now what I'd put away for my retirement, angry that I can't replace it, angry that I need to think two or three times before I make a significant purchase. I'm not normally the kind of person who likes to acknowledge feeling angry. It's too strong of an emotion. Instead, I might say that something makes me "mad." But anger? That suggests an out-of-control rage to me; "anger" feels upsetting and a little scary. So while I occasionally recognize feelings of anger in myself, I usually try to channel them into more positive, productive activities. It's good to acknowledge anger, but not useful to dwell on it.
There's no question, though, that there's a powerful undercurrent of anger out here among us un- and underemployed people. And we all deal with it differently. The sad thing is, the anger may end up only hurting us more. When I did a search for articles about anger and unemployment, the information I did find was pretty bad.
One article on the Everyday Health website notes that "Long-term unemployment brings depression, anger, stress, and a lack of self-confidence.... Over time, it can produce self-destructive habits such as drinking, smoking, drug use, and relationship problems."
It may also lead to the self-destructive habit of overeating, according to an article on the Psychology Today website. "Research has shown that anxiety, defeat, anger and depression are common in the jobless," it notes. "These are symptoms of 'threat stress'... constant exposure to threat stress can release a flood of hormones that have the potential to alter body shape and eating habits."
All this stress can trigger an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can make us crave sweet, fatty, high-calorie foods. While these foods make us feel better, temporarily, because they increase the production of what the article calls "reward" chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, too much of these foods can cause weight gain, which can adversely affect our physical health in many ways.
How do we deal with all of this? We can watch out for "emotional eating" when we're not really hungry. It helps if we exercise more, which increases opioids -- feel-good chemicals -- and decreases cortisol production. In general, we need to find healthy ways to reduce our stress, like massage, yoga or meditation. (Of course, good jobs would help even more.)
So anger is a very real part of this unreal unemployment mess. It wasn't supposed to be this way for us baby boomers, you know? At one time, we had it all. I think that's what makes this that much harder for us to accept.
Too many boomers have been hurt terribly by prolonged unemployment and, frankly, I wish this were a lot more obvious to the rest of America. I encounter these people every day at the online discussion boards, where we "gather" to share our stories.
I think that one of our stories, about the actual negative impact of chronic unemployment on one real person's life, should be told on the network news every single night.
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More From Fran Hopkins
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- Is 8 Percent Unemployment The New 'Normal'?
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Fran Hopkins is a lifelong NJ resident and Baby Boomer who’s been searching for full-time work since losing her job in a January 2010 layoff. While “between jobs,” she’s earned an MS degree in Health Communication, does freelance writing and public relations, and is actively involved in the NJ chapter of the Association for Women in Communications. Her household includes a college-age son and an assortment of pets.
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