Virtuous Circle Counselling

Navigating Uncertainty

Cope with Job Insecurity and Workplace Stress

Many people in Calgary and Alberta have faced unemployment and uncertainty due to the pandemic.

According to the Alberta government, the unemployment rate in December 2020, when seasonally adjusted, was 11%. That’s as compared to 7% at the same time in 2019.

What this means is that many are still struggling with uncertainty because of no fault of their own.

If this sounds like you, there are solutions for navigating this period of uncertainty in your life. These solutions are centered around what you can and cannot control.

When You Lose Your Job

If you lost your job because of the pandemic, there is still much that you can do that’s in your control. For example:


  • Before leaving, secure recommendations from supervisors and coworkers to aid in your job search. This will help you with future applications.
  • Leave with dignity and your head held high. Remember you had no control; it was all circumstantial.
  • Ensure you have the necessary information to file for EI benefits, if applicable. This might also be a good time to swallow your pride a little.


Even if your last day was not the best… There’s still a lot you can do that’s still within your control despite the situation.

Job Insecurity: How to Cope

Even though it might sound extremely cliché, breathing exercises might be a good idea for starting to heal and for coping. This is most likely the last thing you are thinking about after you have lost your job or if the future seems uncertain.

Doing breathing exercises is more than simply taking in extra oxygen. It’s more about slowing down and taking time to literally stop and take a breath.

For many, when they lose their job because of forces outside of their control, it’s easy to think: “What am I going to do?”

Deep breathing can actually help you steer clear of the “fight-or-flight” response that usually happens in your body when you’re in a stressful situation. Stress sends your body’s automatic systems into high alert which makes your heartbeat faster and increases your breathing rate.

This leads to spiraling that makes you more stressed and anxious which does not help at all with taking productive steps towards addressing the problem. But slowing down by practicing mindfulness can help.

The good news is that once you become consciously aware of the way in which your breathing speeds up you can take control. By doing deep breathing exercises you can attempt to regulate the rate at which your heart beats as well as the rate of your breathing. This will help to lower the chances of you spiraling into an anxiety attack.

Deep breathing can help to prevent you from feeling like you’re short of breath by preventing the air in your lungs from getting trapped. This way you can breathe in more fresh air.

To practice deep breathing you need to do the following:

  • Take some quiet time alone to breathe in and exhale.
  • Allow your mind to clear.
  • If you notice an anxious thought arising, acknowledge it, but then let it go.
  • Try to relax with some light stretching or other body movements.Then once you’re ready you can follow these steps:
  • Sit down with your chest bending slightly backward to allow it to expand more fully.
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose.
  • Hold your breath for about 5 counts.
  • Then release the air slowly by exhaling strongly until you feel like all the air has been fully released.

Alternative Relaxation Exercise Techniques

While deep breathing is a wonderful way to improve anxiety, there are other techniques you can try to ease the stress. These include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Body scan

It’s also important to note that losing your job can cause grief. Take some time to mourn that loss. This allows you to acknowledge what happened, and to create some closure. You might not be able to control what happened to you, but you can control what you do next.

Taking the Next Steps

Once you’re ready, it’s time to begin a new job search. But with the economic situation as it is, you might struggle to find work in the same field and that’s a really disempowering feeling. However, remember that there are things you can control. For example:

  • Applying for any open positions in your field or another field your skills are fit for.
  • Enhancing your skills through supplemental training or education.
  • Having your resume reviewed and revised.
  • Participating in coaching to brush up on your interviewing skills.

When You Still Have a Job, but Also Have Workplace Stress

Maybe you still have your job. Yet, the workplace stress feels unbearable. There’s anxiety over whether the company will be able to continue in the near future and people gossiping or texting each other to vent doesn’t really help. If you consider how much of your time you actually spend at work, it’s also no wonder that some people can get under your skin and it can be a real struggle.

So, what can you do? Keeping in mind that certain things are going to be out of your control is a good place to start. For instance, you can’t control how others react to a situation. The only thing you truly have control over is your own reaction.

Here are some tips for navigating stressful situations at work during these trying times:

  • Always take responsibility for your own actions and words.
  • Try to stay away from conversations centered around social or religious beliefs.
  • Focus on the things you find important at work..
  • Leave your personal life at home.

Most people are going to do their own thing anyway so rather focus on your work to ensure that you are doing your best at work. Always remember that you have control over what you do and say, and this doesn’t mean that you’re ignoring reality. It just means that you are taking control to help yourself cope.

If you’re stressed out about the future of the company you work for or if you feel other stresses are too much to cope with, it might be a good idea to start doing research for new opportunities. This is especially necessary if you believe your current work situation will not last.

Job loss or workplace stress can be very difficult to handle. If you are struggling with employment stress, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out today to learn how anxiety counselling can help.

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We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.