You've Lost a Job... Now What?
When we lose a job, we lose so much more than just a paycheck. Losing a job can cast us headlong into loss of purpose, loss of structure, and loss of meaning. We can experience a drop in self-esteem and energy, and we can experience confusion about our identity. But you can take control of the situation and this loss will only make you stronger. I’ve broken the process down into easy steps of recognition, acceptance, and action.
Your response to losing a job is natural.
You may beat yourself up for the grief and depression you feel, but remember that it’s a part of the process. It’s scary! Losing a job is a rapid change that can throw you off balance. Give yourself time to readjust. Don’t expect to be okay tomorrow, or even the next day. Take it a day at a time and be gentle with yourself.
It’s important to grieve in a healthy way. You might experience overwhelming anger and disappointment. Try not to turn that anger or disappointment inwards at yourself or outwards at the ones you love. Take care of yourself through this process and be easy on the people in your life. They’re rooting for you.
You’ve lost a job, but that isn’t the end of the story.
Try to think of your job loss as a temporary setback. In fact, most successful people have experienced this exact same setback at some point in their lives. You can’t erase it and you can’t ignore it, but you can learn from it. You can pick yourself up and try again.
It’s important in a time of extreme stress and disruptions to stick to a regular daily routine. It will help you feel comforted and in control. During the course of a day you might consider journaling, creating a job search plan, and listing positive things about yourself and your life to look back over when you’re feeling overwhelmed. When you’re ready, you can start taking action.
Reach out and rebuild your life.
You might want to hole yourself up and avoid everyone and everything during this time. Don’t! After losing a job, it can be the perfect time to make new friends and connections. Being social can actually help heal your stress. If you know someone who’s a good listener, reach out. You might worry about burdening others, or feel embarrassed. But you’d be surprised by ho`w much people want to support and help you.
Start networking. You can join a job club with other job seekers, you can start networking, or you can volunteer. Each of these will give you a sense of connection, purpose, and forward momentum. You might even meet the person who will help you get your next job.
If you’re in a family or relationship, accept that unemployment affects the ones you love the most. Open up to them. Listen to their fears and concerns about the future. Keep them in the loop about your job searches. And most importantly, make time for fun, stress-free activities. It’s a difficult time, but you can make it through together.
Finally, nourish your body. The stress of job loss can affect your health. Be sure to get plenty of sleep—it will make you more productive and improve your mood. Practice relaxation with deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Eat healthy—avoid sugar, heavy comfort foods that can make you crash. Try not to overdo it with alcohol or smoking. They can both feel good in the moment but can cause even greater stress when the effect wears off.
This isn’t the end of your story.
Give yourself time, lean on others, and stay positive. Take this time to build your relationships and reorient your goals. It might not feel like it now, but this loss will make you stronger and more ready to face life’s ups and downs.