Long long time ago, I can still remember
How that job offer used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
I can’t remember if I cried
When I hung up the call
But something touched me deep inside
The day I was laid off
When you lose your job, it can suddenly feel like you’ve been plunged 20,000 feet below sea level. You try to pull yourself back up, but the weight of what’s on top of you — financial anxiety, betrayal by your company, older wounds of personal inadequacy — can keep you stuck.
It’s normal to feel sad, angry, scared, and even jealous after getting fired or laid off, experts say. Safeguarding your mental health during a layoff is not always easy.
Although the U.S. economy added more than 500,000 jobs in January, companies continued to announce cuts in recent months, meaning an increasing number of people are not only out of work but dealing with the emotional aftermath of layoffs. “The impact of layoffs enacted on a nearly daily basis will have a long-term, detrimental impact on workers’ mental health and emotional well-being,” according to the American Psychological Association. Anxiety, depression, and loss of life satisfaction are just a few of the effects of unemployment, the APA adds.
Thus, it is essential to identify ways to cope when you lose your job.
Start by taking steps to combat the adverse emotional effects that layoffs can cause. Take a breath, and don’t take your release personally, " said Natasha Bowman, the Bowman Foundation for Workplace Equity and Mental Wellness founder.
Remember that a layoff isn’t a sign that you don’t have value, said Melissa Doman, an organizational psychologist and author of “Yes, You Can Talk About Mental Health at Work (Here’s Why And How To Do It Really Well).” Let yourself feel the feelings you are experiencing, Doman said, adding that suppressing them can cause those emotions to come out in ways you don’t want. “You don’t have to look on the bright side if you [don’t feel good],” Doman said. “If you don’t feel good after a layoff, there is a reason. Moving through those emotions and feeling them is entirely healthy and normal. And then you can pick [yourself] up by the bootstraps later.”
Remember to take the opportunity to reflect on what’s next. People sometimes make the mistake of jumping back into the job market, putting in all these applications simultaneously, and getting rejections. This could impact your mental health if all you hear is rejection, rejection, rejection. You’ve been rejected from your previous job and are now being rejected for future opportunities. So, instead of jumping right back into it, reflect on that last job.
Understand what you liked about your job, your value to the company, and what performance evaluations said you were good at. Focus on those things when you start your job search, and don’t be afraid to apply for work in industries you hadn’t considered before. Your layoff may be an opportunity to pursue your passion, purpose, or something different than what you were doing in your previous role.
Instead of spending all of your time submitting applications and job searching, map out time to look for new positions and make time for things you enjoy in your personal life. Take a day or two to take a break and recharge. I missed walking with my dogs, reading, being with friends, and finding new passions. Also, keep in mind that landing a new job can take time. Volunteer, give back to the community, and do things that make you feel valuable.
In addition, don’t be afraid to reveal your layoff to friends, family, and former colleagues. When you are ready, post on LinkedIn that you were recently affected by a layoff. Be clear about the roles you are interested in and the job sectors you want to work in. You never know who might see it. One connection can help you land a new role, provide the smile, boost confidence, or the note you need.