Have you gone through a traumatic event where others died and you survived? A car accident, a family tragedy, downsizing of your company, or even a pandemic…
I am sure you could relate to at least one of those seeing that we are still in the midst of our biggest challenge of this generation – the Global Covid-19 Pandemic.
Thinking about these massive events in our lives, did you, or are you feeling guilty, angry, anxious or depressed, difficulty to concentrate, withdrawing socially, difficulty sleeping and even losing the love for your favourite meal?
You might suffer from survivor syndrome. Yes, it is a real thing.
Survivor syndrome first made its appearance as a term during 1949 when Eddy de Wind, a Dutch psychiatrist, survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp, observed the behaviours and reactions of survivors of massive and horrible events. He called it “concentration camp syndrome”.
Over the years, it became part of the symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and recently surfaced again as a term “Survivor Syndrome”, that even Industrial Psychologists use to describe the behaviour and emotions of employees that go through downsizing or closing down of an organisation.
Survivor syndrome is used to explain your feelings experienced when you are part of the remaining workforce, or the lucky ones that survived. Survivor syndrome is described as a mess of emotions felt by employees that may include fear, insecurity, frustration, anger, resentment, sadness, depression, guilt, injustice, and betrayal. These psychological states can affect any survivors’ work behavior such as motivation, performance, satisfaction and commitment.
Don’t forget about your boss. Managers have lost some of their longtime colleagues and have to let go of trusted employees. They are trying to hold it together and have to deal with their own emotions as well as with those around them. Many managers shut down and don’t communicate with their teams. They face challenges we don’t always consider… doing more work with less people or people that have been given to them that don’t know anything yet. Be kind to each other.
It will become worse before it becomes better but here is some tips to help you cope:
- Give yourself time to grieve. It is like losing a loved one.
- To “avenge” lost coworkers will help nobody.
- Avoid the gossip about further cuts and who may go next.
- Focus instead on being positive and productive.
- Find opportunities. Use this time to ask for assignments that lead to professional growth and personal fulfillment.
- Take a mental break. Reconnect with friends and family. Take a trip. Putting physical distance between yourself and work.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Take each day as it comes.
If you think you might suffer from survivor syndrome, let us know how we can help you by connecting with us.