Keeping a calm demeanor at work on Wall Street may be rather difficult these days, especially when the depressing news of layoffs is coming fast and furious. And, if you're one of the unlucky ones now pounding the pavement in the midst of the downturn, it can be a rather humbling experience, especially for those accustomed to better and more lucrative times.
According to Alden Cass, a licensed clinical psychologist, performance coach, and co-author of Bullish Thinking-The Advisors Guide to Surviving and Thriving on Wall Street, his NYC practice is busier than ever dealing with Wall Street professionals. "I'm at the point of holding Skype sessions during late night hours," he tells eFinancialCareers.
While the influx of financial execs seeking counseling might be taken as a negative by some, Cass says the move is a smart strategy and a much different move than what happened in the last big downturn.
Living in an emotionally fragile state isn't always the best policy, he notes. "People are much more prepared than they were in the 2008 meltdown," says Cass. "Back then, people didn't really seek out help. They were just too terrified. Now there's an influx of patients. These are people who are saying 'I want to be prepared and have the right attitude and survive'."
So, just what does the 'right attitude' mean for a troubled Wall Streeter?
1. Consider the Bigger Picture...The old adage that 'misery loves company' might sound counterintuitive right now, but according to Deborah Brown-Volkman, a professional career and life coach, it sometimes does help to realize you're not alone. "Not only are widespread layoffs impacting those in finance, the job market is just as, if not tougher, for those outside the space," she reminds.
2. Give into the Pain, For a Little While...It's okay to acknowledge the pain and stress of fearing for one's job, says Brown-Volkman. But don't get frozen. She acknowledges that stress is a big part of Wall Street anyway, even in the good times. Then, she says, "It's best to get to the point where you can focus on the good aspects of your specific job."
3. Take Lemons, Make Lemonade..."Make a plan before you need one," she notes. "Get your power back and don't isolate yourself." Brown-Volkman notes that it's best to keep busy, be proactive and not get to the point where you need to "read the writing on the wall". Avoid the cycle of eating more and being inactive.
4 Seek Help. It's fine to be angry, sad and upset by the tumult in the job market. But it might be time to seek professional help if you're experiencing a "significant impairment in social and occupational functioning", says Cass. He recommends that professionals keep a watch out for signs of depression. "It's a departure from the normal interest in activities. It's a sense of worthlessness and hopelessness for the future." It might be a loss of appetite or an inability to get out of bed. Certainly, moderate to severe symptoms, as well as self-destructive thoughts, are a clear sign that clinical help is needed, says Cass.