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"Truer Words Cannot Be Said"

“It’s not that the load takes you down, it’s the way you carry it” (Lou Holtz).

A man rides an arrow to jump over the word stress symbolizing the conquering of stressful anxiety with techniques that achieve inner peace and tranquility

Truer words cannot be said about the job seekers at Daily Work and the ways they cope with and manage stress.

Physiologist Walter Cannon came up with the idea that there are three types of stress responses in animals, including humans: fight, flight, or freeze. Further research has shown that no matter what the stressors, humans experience one of Cannon’s three responses, also known as the “generalized stress response.” These responses are coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.

As a case manager at Daily Work, I can see the impact of stress in so many of the people I help. For example, one of my job seekers, I’ll call him “Daniel”, is currently living in a homeless shelter. This causes him a lot of stress: he often talks about how he doesn’t feel safe at night, he worries about where he will get his next meal, and he is very worried about if anyone will hire him if they know more about him.

This toxic stress is making it really hard for Daniel to find a job. Not only does he have a tremendous amount of actual barriers, such as not having his basic needs met, he is in constant crisis due to his stressors. At Daily Work, Daniel typically seems to have a “flight” response, which he exhibits with a variety of behaviors, mostly in the “flight” response category.

For example, when he’s stressed, Daniel comes to Daily Work without an appointment, and talks about his fears while pacing back and forth. He moves his hands a lot, his voice gets frantic-sounding, and he has very intense eye contact…his eyes even seem to grow as he talks.

Daniel is in such crisis, that he often seems unaware of his behaviors. He also seems unable to control when and how he expresses his emotions. Right now, Daniel probably needs more help getting his physical and emotional needs met; without that, he may not have the stability he needs to be able to hold a job.

Another job seeker I am working with is experiencing crisis, too, but is coping very differently than Daniel. “Lucy” has been displaced due to an injury that has made her unable to continue working in her previous profession because it is too physically strenuous. Lucy currently has no income or support from any other sources.

I have observed Lucy coping with her stress by withdrawing, or “freezing.” Lucy often misses appointments or calls to cancel at the last-minute. She is very quiet and does not share much about herself or her situation. She does not appear to be very confident: she looks down a lot and she speaks very softly, making it hard to hear her. While it is difficult for me to know, Lucy may also be experiencing depression and anxiety due to the stress of having no income.

Job seekers at Daily Work come because they need employment-related assistance: resumes, cover letters, and job applications. However, they are often unaware of how other things in their lives, especially their own behaviors and actions, might be impacting their job search success.

As a case manager at Daily Work, I strive to meet job seekers where they are and understand why they might be angry, sad, nervous, late or unreliable. My goal is to help them become aware of the obstacles affecting them and provide them with resources and ideas that can mitigate or eliminate those obstacles and escape the state of crisis.

Our job seekers carry a heavy load…and your support of Daily Work helps them carry it.

By Hannah Van Alstine, Daily Work Case Management Internhannah-pic

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