It is a stressful world out there. There are hundreds of potential stressors in a person’s daily life including issues with family, friends, and society in general. Losing a job is one of the biggest stressors that many people will need to cope with at some point in their life.
Whether you got fired, were caught in a layoff, or the company you worked for closed, you aren’t alone. The vast majority of adult professionals in the world will cope, at least once in their lives, with professional insecurity and job uncertainty. Worse, unemployment and job instability can lead to anxiety and depression and an overall loss of satisfaction about one’s life. In short, a job loss is traumatic.
That is why it is so important to have some coping strategies ready, to help you navigate the potential stress-inducing life situations such as a job loss.
1) Acknowledge Your Feelings
It is not a bad thing to feel disappointment or other emotions. The fact is when something doesn’t turn out the way you expected or hoped you may be sad, angry, or feel depressed. The important thing to remember is that these are your feelings and you are entitled to them. But it is not healthy to blame others for your emotions. Also, don’t expect your friends or family to know and share exactly what you are feeling. Talk about your feelings but do not attack others for not sharing in those feelings.
In the immediate aftermath of a job loss, it can be hard to realize what has really been lost. Your immediate instinct may be to feel like this is a devastating blow to your career plans, but once you compose yourself you need to really look at the situation, put it in perspective.
Challenge your previously held beliefs, especially those that are no longer adaptive. Essentially, you need to realize that dwelling on a failure in one thing will hinder you from considering new and different options.
We can maintain perspective by appreciating what has happened and acknowledging that some aspects of the situation may be beneficial for us in the long run. Instead of focusing on negative aspects of the situation we can maintain hope for resolve in the future and see what parts of the present situation are positive.
A job loss is a knock to the ego. You are left feeling like you were not good enough for something or that you are a failure. But, a temporary job loss does not mean that you are worthless or that you won’t one day be able to achieve your goals.
When you allow self-doubt to consume you, you risk giving up on the things you want. Reassess the situation in the short term, and perhaps lower your expectations of yourself while you restart working toward achieving your goals. It is important, however, not to doubt yourself. You can get past this job loss and build back up to new career success.
Once you have reconciled that the job loss occurred and that it wasn’t world-ending, it will be time for you to move forward, and you need solutions. Even the process of engaging in problem-solving can be important in dealing with job loss stress.
So, start planning – what are your next steps? If your career path has stalled, what can you do to restart it or redirect it? You may not always be able to find a solution to achieve the exact goal you were originally aiming for in the short term, but you can find a way to use what you have to get back on track toward pursuing your goal within a longer timeframe.
5) Get Some Distance While You Adjust
Take some time off if you need it. It can be helpful to create distance from the cause of your stress, which is in this case, the loss of a job you enjoyed. Once your confidence is back and you have a new game plan to implement you can start working toward trying again.
6) Move Slowly When Making Changes
Are you thinking of using this opportunity to make a major change in your life? It is hard to make rational decisions when under stress, so if possible, take time to determine whether or not you really want to make the change you are thinking about. Begin by dipping your toes in the water and experimenting with change.
If you want to try a new career path, maybe you can begin by working part-time or start an apprenticeship in the field. If you want to move out of the country, or even to a new town, try visiting the new place and spending a few days or weeks there. Talk to locals, go out to eat, and take time to experience the new place. This is a good way to begin making changes slowly.
When we ask for help, we are empowering our strength of community and connecting with friends and mentors. When we can share what we are going through, we shed shame and can be open with our experiences. Often others are available to support us if we simply reach out.