If you’re like most folks, your job is not only your source of income, it’s also your identity, stability, and routine. It can also be something that you take pride in and have control over. A lot of weight is placed on our jobs. When you introduce yourself, you probably state your job position or title as who you are – “Hi, my name’s Ryan, I’m a Software Engineer”. You live your life around your job. Your routines fit around your job and you also connect with others through your job.
So it’s no surprise that when you get laid off it can take a huge mental & emotional toll. Suddenly someone has made a decision that has now impacted not only your financial situation, but your identity, daily structure & routines and even your social connections. When you lose your job it can feel like a huge loss. Going through this process can be challenging, but there are ways to nurture your emotional health while moving through this life change.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE EMOTIONS:
Losing a job unexpectedly can bring about a range of strong emotions. You might experience shock, anger, fear, overwhelm, confusion, depression, self-doubt and perhaps even excitement and relief.
Acknowledging these emotions as part of the process can help make your ability to heal & rebound that much easier. Denying your emotions only delays your progress. Honor your emotions, validate them as they are true to you. Take the time to accept and process each of them throughout your transition.
2. CHECK YOUR MINDSET:
Even though these emotions may be coming up, our mindset around them is far more powerful than the emotions themselves. It’s actually our thoughts that trigger the emotional response to occur. If your thought about being laid off was “Now I can finally find a new job that I’m actually excited about”, then the emotions that will most likely arise might be elation, joy, excitement, or relief.
Even if you enjoyed the job you lost, try reframing your mind and thoughts to those of new opportunities & experiences. How could you look forward to a new position and your contributions being supported in a new way?
The bottom line is that if you think something is terrible, most likely negative emotions will arise. If you think something is fantastic, positive emotions will follow. It’s important to notice your mindset and when your internal dialogue starts to get negative, you get to choose to shift those words to ones of positivity.
3. PRACTICE GRATITUDE:
It may seem impossible to feel grateful during a time of despair, but instead of just focusing your energy on the job that you’ve lost, try turning that attention to the things that you do have. If you still have a place to live, some savings, your family, your health, friends, good food, etc… these are all things you can be grateful for. Try cultivating a daily practice of recognizing all the things that you have in your life that are important to you. Write them down in a journal or list and allow the feeling of being grateful to really sink into your being. Doing a regular gratitude practice at least once a day helps to remind us that all is not dire, we have things in our lives that we can rely on and trust.
You may want to consider continuing this practice even after you become re-employed, as being grateful helps to feel grounded through life’s constant ups and downs.
4. ACCEPT CHANGE:
A distinguishing characteristic of successful individuals is the way they perceive change and their capacity for managing change. Know that change is an inevitable part of life. Being able to accept that can make a huge impact on your capacity to rebound and emerge stronger and wiser.
One way to make this process easier is to reflect on the past. Recall any major changes that you have previously faced in your life. Was the event voluntary or involuntary? How did you feel when faced with this change? How did you deal with the event? How did it change your life? What did you learn from it? This exercise can help identify your emotions and remind you just how resilient you are.
5. MAINTAIN PHYSICAL HEALTH:
Our physical health has a direct impact on our mental wellness. The activities you do and the food you eat affects overall emotional health. If your body feels good, your emotional state will naturally elevate. The same holds true if you start entering into couch potato territory, your emotional state soon follows and the possibility of depression rises the longer you stay on the couch.
If you had a regular exercise routine before your layoff, keep it going or consider carving out time to start a new one. Even just keeping up with daily routines & tasks can help. The bottom line is regular exercise & consistent healthy eating habits boosts how well your mind can process difficult emotions. So make sure to look after your physical health, your brain will thank you.
Nurturing your mental wellness after & during a layoff period is an important part of your transitional journey. And when you feel ready to start focusing on job searching, check out these articles:
Written by Christine Graham