How to Cope with Job Loss
Losing a job can lead to negative feelings (inadequacy, embarrassment, insecurity and devastation). Recovery can take time, making it easy to become depressed or anxious. Learning how to cope with job loss is crucial for avoiding this. It can lead to an even better future, like undiscovered opportunities or a new career path that you may not have thought about otherwise!
7 Supportive Steps
1. Try not to panic or get overwhelmed. Realize this is an opportunity and move on.
2. Allow yourself to experience natural feelings of denial, anger and grief.
3. Accept what happened. It was just a job; now look to the future.
4. Embrace your forced vacation. Relax, do projects around the house you have been neglecting, visit family or volunteer.
5. Stop all unnecessary purchases. New clothes, eating out, movies and other little luxuries add up quickly!
6. Start thinking about your next career. Update your resume, network and take classes that refresh your skills or prepare you for a new career path.
7. Start your job search. Contact employment agencies, find recruiters, search the Internet, check the classifieds and let people know you are ready for work.
Channeling any negative energy into something positive really helps fight off stress. Here are some stress relievers to try. Do what you enjoy and what works for you:
Exercise, walk, do yoga or Pilates
Help others or volunteer
Get a massage
Go back to church, practice your faith
Talk with others
Write in a journal (like in your Career Journal!)
Meditate and breathe deep – try saying “woosah” with your eyes closed
Play games and laugh
Listen to your favorite music or relaxing music
Plant a garden
Eat a balanced, healthy diet
Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake
Do not procrastinate
Calming Down During a Panic or Anxiety Attack
One of the most effective methods is deep breathing. The following exercise physically and mentally calms you. Putting your focus on the breathing and taking it off the anxiety makes the anxiety go away:
Breathe through your nose for a slow 1-2-3 count.
Hold your breath for a slow 1-2-3 count.
Exhale for a slow 1-2-3 count. Do this as long as you want; it really helps.
Stop the anxious thought and replace it with a more calming thought (weekend plans, a family trip, etc.). Or focus on something else: count backwards from 100 by 3’s, say the alphabet backwards, focus on an object around you, etc.
If possible have someone you know/trust talk to you and comfort you.
Tense the various muscles in your body for a few seconds and then release, allowing yourself to relax.
If you are able to stand, get up and walk around slowly, while “slowly” deep breathing (change of focus).
Do not lock your jaws together; this worsens any nausea in your panic attack. Relaxing your face helps.
For most of us, job loss has a devastating emotional impact. You may experience some of the following emotions.
Rejection, failure, or a sense that you did a poor job
Embarrassment or weakened identity from no longer earning an income
Anger towards yourself, your former employer, the situation, the economy, etc.
Fear or anxiety about the future, your career, your ability to pay immediate financial needs and provide for your family
Depression, which can result in even more challenges for finding a new job (changes in eating/sleeping habits, low energy, avoiding people, neglecting hygiene and appearance)
Stress over any or all of the above emotions
Dealing with Negative Emotions
Any of these feelings are a normal response to job loss, but you must decide how to handle them. If you recently lost your job, you will come across people who recently lost theirs too, which can cause more stress. Job loss is always occurring, you just did not notice because it did not affect you personally. Ignore the fact that everyone around you is unemployed. Focus on yourself. Everyone has lost a job at some point, so do not take it personally. You are not the only one, although it may feel like it now.
You must make a choice when you lose a job: dwell on it or move on. Choose to move on! Feel the pain and then do something about it. Get yourself recharged and head out in full gear for the next lucky employer to see your value. You may realize one day, that this job loss is a blessing in disguise. Many times they are! Everything happens for a reason. So if you lose your job, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back out there!
If your job loss was because of performance, learn from it for your future employment. If it was a layoff, it was out of your control. Company reorganization can result in eliminated positions.
Acknowledge your emotions, do not hide them. Take a few days to relax, recover and regroup.
Get support from friends, family and professional colleagues. Maintain the human contact and interaction like you had at work. Do not isolate yourself.
Maintain a healthy diet and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Maintain a positive attitude and receive positive outcomes. It drives you to do better and go farther. Even if you did not get a job today, you may tomorrow!
Finding a job is your full-time job now. When do you get a job, keep looking once in awhile. Always keep your options open.
If you feel depressed, (increased anger, changes in sleeping/eating, hopelessness or sadness) for longer than a week, seek professional help.
Networking is emotionally satisfying and the most effective job search technique. Instead of dwelling on your job loss, you are actively eliminating the cause of your stress. Networking gives you face-to-face human interaction, new friends, new conversation, information and insight!
During your job hunt, keep a calendar with you daily schedule. This really helps you organize, focus and execute your job search. Anything on paper (or Yahoo calendar) is easier to follow than a schedule in your head. You will be prepared and looking forward to upcoming events and tasks.
Play to Your Strengths
Even during a recession, people still have needs to be met. Ask yourself, “What are my career strengths and how can they be helpful to others?” This may mean branching into a related field that requires the same skill-set, or perhaps learning a new set of skills for a related job. You may even start your own business.
If you experience difficulty in adjusting to unemployed life (job searching, cutting back expenses, etc.) or you feel lost in what direction to take your life, consider seeking the services of a professional life coach or psychotherapist. They can help you escape an emotional rut, and help you recognize your personal strengths and envision your true potential!