Workplace Survivor Syndrome: What It Is and How to Cope

Mental health is the foundation of everyday existence on par with physical health. Any mental impairment immediately affects the quality of life, relationships, plans, and prospects. Most people go through layoffs, restructurings, and job cuts that are psychologically traumatic. There are ways to resolve conflicts on the job, but not every conflict can be resolved, resulting in trauma.  One such trauma is workplace survivor syndrome. You need to know symptoms and treatment techniques to cope with workplace survivor syndrome.

What is workplace survivor syndrome?

Workplace survivor syndrome is characterized by the oppressive emotional tension that occurs in survivors of layoffs, restructurings, job cuts, or resignations. It includes shame, guilt, and regret that the survivor gets to work in the company while others lose work. Particularly severe stress is experienced by those who lose their best colleagues or watch their suffering from the sidelines, unable to change anything.

Why do people experience feelings of guilt? It is the result of not fully experiencing loss or stress. People wonder if they did the right in layoffs, restructurings, and job cuts. They wonder if they did everything they could for themselves and those who were hurt worse. Feelings of guilt grow, returning to the past in thoughts, memories, and dreams, forcing one to relive the painful experience.

Professor Stephen Joseph notes that guilt is a warning signal that indicates that one has violated some social norm. It is a feeling that makes us sensitive and considerate of others but emotionally crushing. To preserve the psyche and survive trauma, guilt syndrome must be dealt with.

Among the reasons that lead to this kind of psychological trauma, experts noted the following: 

  • Living in an atmosphere of constant layoffs, restructurings, job cuts, or resignations
  • Physical and mental exhaustion
  • The constant fear of layoffs, restructurings, and job cuts
  • Powerlessness and defenselessness
  • Undermining of mental health by bullying, suspicion, accusations, and slander without the possibility of legal recourse

As a result of all these factors, workers experience workplace survivor syndrome even if working from home

Symptoms and ways to get rid of workplace survivor syndrome 

Workplace survivor syndrome manifests itself through depression, apathy, and anxiety, which entails psychosomatic illness, insomnia, intellectual disturbances, mood swings, and social withdrawal. The person loses his bearings in life. His social circle and his plans for the future are destroyed. He hurts himself and the people around him, shows anger and aggression, and refuses food and medical treatment

Someone who has experienced layoffs, restructurings, and job cuts must live through the aftermath. In the grieving loss, there are five basic stages of grief, formulated and described by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969: 

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

The manifestation of the workplace survivor syndrome aggravates a person’s habitual behavior and mental attitude. As a result, a person feels chronic guilt, devalues their successes, and loses meaning and quality of life.

How to cope with workplace survivor syndrome

What to do about workplace survivor syndrome? Since the syndrome destroys the personality and leads to disastrous consequences, it is necessary to look for ways to heal. One must recognize the cause of the problem and want to get rid of it with the help of professional counseling and constant work on oneself.

How to get rid of workplace survivor syndrome? Accepting your emotions, looking at the situation soberly, and analyzing the factors that triggered the syndrome can help. It is necessary to recognize the normality of the feelings experienced and get support from loved ones or professionals who will apply cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Here are the most popular and effective methods of getting rid of workplace survivor syndrome on your own: 

  • To relieve self-blame, realize that the causes of workplace survivor syndrome are external. It is essential to talk to yourself in moment of guilt, just as you would if you were talking to someone you love. Consider what you would say to someone struggling with workplace survivor syndrome to support them. Apply the same to yourself.
  • Instead of suppressing emotions, allow yourself to be both sad and happy. We often don’t allow ourselves to experience weakness, but an essential part of dealing with emotions is to live and feel them. Survivors’ guilt is an emotion associated with grief. Therefore, taking the time and strength within yourself is essential to work through your grief.
  • Doing things for others makes it easier to get over workplace survivor syndrome. Volunteering and doing quality work is an excellent ways to heal
  • Connecting with people who have had similar experiences will alleviate feelings of loneliness and abandonment, and sharing information on how to cope with workplace survivor syndrome will empower you to eventually move on without that guilt..
  • Accept that there may be no answers. We all want to know why something happened this way and not that way. What is the hidden meaning behind it? We torture our minds trying to figure it out. But unfortunately, sometimes the answers just aren’t there. You may never know why your favorite colleague is fired or may never be able to understand why the worst employees still work at their positions.
  • Make time to step back, clear your mind, and take care of your physical health. Go for long walks, take up running or begin a workout program. If you feel overwhelmed with this, a personal trainer can guide you. A trainer can use personal trainer software to guide you through fitness programs, manage your goals, and prove meal plans.

Each person takes a different amount of time to recover. Some people’s symptoms improve significantly or disappear within the month, while others’ symptoms persist for longer. Strategies for coping with workplace survivor syndrome always require the help and support of family and friends.

Conclusion

Workplace survivor syndrome is a shame, confusion, and fear that arise for reasons beyond a person’s control. This socio-psychological phenomenon leads people to severe problems, from adrenaline to alcohol addiction. Living with workplace survivor syndrome normally is impossible, so all affected people come to the need to get rid of it. 

Many experience workplace survivor syndrome after layoffs, restructurings, and resignations. It is important not to close yourself off but to realize the nature of your condition and work through the problem with a specialist and on your own. Healing will bring back the quality of life and work and fill it with new meaning.

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