I had a chance to catch up with a good friend the other day. We talked about a lot of stuff like we used to. We were so happy to see each other again, but things took a sudden turn when I asked about her job. Sadly, her company is one of those who will undergo a mass layoff. As we talked more, it pained me to see my friend go through a range of emotions — anger, anxiety, guilt, and uncertainty about what would happen next.
Unfortunately, her story is one that too many people are experiencing all over the world. It’s a difficult reality that so many people face job loss, and the consequences of it can be devastating. The truth is losing a job can cause more than just financial struggles. The stress of job loss can also have a significant impact on a person’s overall mental and emotional well-being. It can leave a person questioning their self-worth and feeling like they’ve lost a piece of their identity.
It’s tough to be laid off unexpectedly, especially when you really love your job. And like my friend, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed with emotions and be uncertain about where to turn next.
If you find yourself in this situation, please know you’re not alone. Even though things may appear to be grim at the moment, it’s important to remember that there is hope. With the right mindset and strategies, you can survive the emotional impact of a job layoff and hopefully even thrive afterward. We’ve listed down a guide that can hopefully make this transition a little easier.
Recognize and Process Your Emotions
Grief is a natural human response to any great loss — including the loss of a job. And the grief goes beyond just losing your source of income. You may also feel a sense of loss and grief for the routine and relationships you had at work.
Our jobs also play a significant role in defining our identity and social status. For instance, when we meet someone new, one of the first questions we often ask is, “What do you do for work?” Good, bad or otherwise, our job titles often serve as an indication of who we are in the eyes of others.
So it’s natural to feel a sense of grief or loss when this is taken away from us unexpectedly. And it’s important to acknowledge these emotions and give yourself time and space to process them.
There’s no timeline for grief, and everyone processes things differently. While some people may turn to unhealthy habits like overeating, oversleeping, or drinking too much alcohol for comfort, these behaviors only provide temporary relief and can actually make you feel worse in the long run.
Instead of relying on these unhealthy coping mechanisms, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings, understand why you feel that way, and work through them in a healthy way.
For instance, you may feel sad because you’ll miss your officemates, or you may feel angry about the injustice of losing your job. Whatever it is, try to identify the root cause and work through it.
You could write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal to get a better understanding of what you’re going through. This can help you identify patterns and underlying issues that may be contributing to your current state of mind. Once you have a better understanding of the source of your feelings, you can take action where appropriate to alleviate your discomfort. For example, if you feel sad because you will miss your officemates, you can make efforts to form a relationship outside of work. Reach out to them personally or on social media to maintain a connection outside of the office. Don’t let shame or embarrassment stand in your way. Losing a job is something almost everyone will experience at some point in their life – it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Allow yourself the opportunity to take pride in how you are handling adversity.
Reframe Your Perspective
It can be easy to get stuck in negative thinking patterns when you feel vulnerable and helpless. If negative thoughts start to creep in, challenge them with more positive and realistic thoughts. Instead of thinking, “I’m a complete failure for getting laid off,” try to reframe it as “This is a setback, but I am still capable and can find new opportunities.”
You could also remind yourself that losing your job was not entirely within your control, given the current economic situation. Job loss can happen to anyone. It doesn’t reflect your worth as a person or employee.
Additionally, try to look for the silver lining in your situation. Losing your job might open up several opportunities, including the following:
- Having time on your hand to re-evaluate your goals and take stock of what you have and where you are.
- The chance to find a job better suited for you and your goals.
- The option to take courses that could help you land a more fulfilling job.
- The time to explore other interests and hobbies you may have overlooked while working.
- Having more time with family and friends.
- Explore new opportunities, such as starting a new business or going back to school.
No matter how hard it is, try to stay positive and use this experience as an opportunity for growth. Try to focus on what you have, your skills and strengths, and all the new possibilities that may come your way. Remind yourself of the bigger picture: that this experience is only temporary and doesn’t define your worth. Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember that no matter how dark things may seem at the moment, this too shall pass.
Maintain a Daily Routine
After a long time of working, it’s normal to miss the regular schedule and structure that work provides. The feeling of being a valued member of a team and having a sense of purpose can also be hard to let go of.
One strategy for managing these emotions is to establish a regular routine for yourself. When things are uncertain, a routine can be a dependable source of stability and structure. When you were working, you probably had a morning routine, from waking up to getting ready for the day, commuting to work, and so on. Now, you can recreate a new routine that works for you and gives you a sense of purpose.
You could start by setting small daily goals and challenging yourself to stick to them. This could involve waking up at the same time every day, eating healthy meals, getting regular exercise, and so on. It can also help to schedule activities that bring you joy, like reading a book or going for a walk. You could set aside a few hours each day to focus on job searching or use the extra time to learn something new.
Establishing a consistent routine will help restore some of the order and certainty that was taken away from your job. It can also help reframe your mindset and give you the motivation you need to keep going.
Focus on What You Can Control
When it comes to job loss, it’s important to remember that there are things you can and cannot control. You can’t control the fact that you lost your job or the current economic situation, but you can control how you respond to it and how you’ll get back up again.
Mitigate the Loss of Income
The loss of a regular monthly income can put a strain on your finances, but there are still ways to take control of the situation. Although you can no longer control your income, you do have control over your budget and spending habits.
Start by taking a closer look at your finances and figuring out how much money you have available. This can help you plan for the short term and make informed decisions about your spending. Look for ways to trim any unnecessary expenses, such as eating out or subscription services, and consider ways to save money, such as buying generic brands or shopping sales.
It’s also important to prioritize your bills and expenses to ensure you can pay for the essentials, such as housing and utilities. If you’re having trouble making payments, contact your creditors to see if they can offer any solutions. You could also look into government programs or other benefits that could help you make ends meet.
As you’re looking to land your next full-time job, consider taking on some side projects or freelance work to supplement your income in the meantime. This could involve anything from tutoring to doing odd jobs for neighbors or friends.
Upskill and Network
Take this opportunity to invest in yourself and your career by upskilling. Platforms like Coursera offer free or low-cost online courses in a variety of topics, from business to technology. You can also look for online workshops or webinars that can help you develop new skills or stay up to date with trends in your industry.
Networking can be another helpful way to get your foot in the door of potential job opportunities. Join professional groups on social media and attend virtual events related to your field. This can help you make connections, get advice from professionals, and stay informed about potential openings.
Start Exploring Job Opportunities
If you’re feeling ready to move on from your job loss, one way to start is by pursuing a new job. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by the process of job searching and applying, but taking some time to plan can help make it feel more manageable.
Start by reflecting on the type of job you want and what would be a good fit for you. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you can begin the search process. Create a list of potential employers and job openings that match your skills and interests, then research each one.
Creating a plan for your job search can help you keep on track and motivated. Consider setting a goal for the number of jobs you want to apply for each week or dedicating a specific amount of time each day to your search.
Finally, prepare for the job search process by brushing up on your resume, preparing a portfolio, and practicing interview questions.
And while you’re on it, always remember that finding a new job may take some time and effort, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find something right away. Take a step back to remind yourself of all the progress you’ve made and celebrate all your small wins.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Losing a job can be tough, but you don’t have to go through this alone. Reaching out to people you trust can make a huge difference. Your support network can provide you with all kinds of help, from offering encouragement and advice to sharing personal experiences that may help you understand and deal with your situation. They can teach you new skills, refer you to helpful resources, or just be a shoulder to lean on.
You can talk to your friends and family, look for support groups in your community, or consider seeking the guidance of a mental health professional. Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people can help you stay motivated and focused as you navigate this challenging time.
I’m glad my friend chose to open up to me. I know it takes a lot of courage to share about something so personal and vulnerable, and I’m proud of her for facing this challenge with strength and courage. My friend is a remarkable, accomplished person whose passion and drive have always inspired me, and that won’t change, no matter what her job status is.
Final Thoughts: Setback to Success
Remember, setbacks are only temporary, but your determination and drive can last a lifetime. So, don’t give up. Keep pushing forward, and use the lessons learned from this experience to propel yourself towards a brighter and more fulfilling future. Your next chapter may be even more remarkable than the one before. Stay strong, stay focused, and keep believing in yourself.