How to manage the emotional stress of losing your job

There are millions of people across the country who have lost their jobs recently. According to one recent report nearly 35 million Americans have filed for unemployment. However, what the numbers won’t show is the amount of stress those millions of people are living under. The stress that can come from losing your job, on top of everything else going on in the world, can be crippling for some. There is a strong consensus among psychologists that losing one’s job is one of the most stressful things anyone will experience in their life. That on top of the fact that we are in an economic recession and new job prospects remain uncertain, it can be even more stressful. Clearly there are massive amounts of emotional baggage many of us have to bear through this time. That can have drastic physical and mental health implications which we will cover, as well as how to manage those properly.

It’s not personal, it’s just business

It is very hard to separate our personal emotions from our work lives. Our jobs are where we spend the majority of our time and devote considerable amounts of our energy. Although most people are laid off due to business or economic reasons, we will always feel personal pain in these moments. A lot of our self-worth and identity is tied to what we do for a living. When you get fired or are laid off, you lose more than just your income, you lose a part of you.

After losing a job most people go through a range of emotions from anger and despair to self-loathing. Due to that strong link between self-esteem and one’s job, people can easily slip into depression. This is unfair for people to do to themselves as it usually wasn’t their fault why they were let go. However, being unemployed is a very vulnerable position to be in life and the pressure and the stress to provide for your family can drive people to very dark places emotionally. People need be reassured that this brief moment is not a true representation of their self-worth or abilities as professional.

Managing your reaction

The one thing that most people completely forget about when they lose their jobs is their health. Physical and mental health is usually not high on people’s priorities when they get such depressing news. Nonetheless, you need to take care of yourself. Between sleep, diet, and exercise, make sure you are sticking to a healthy routine. If you are going to re-emerge from this personal crisis, you will need to be at your peak. What people usually do is cope in unhealthy ways. They typically do one of three things, distract themselves from the problem, feel hopeless, or overwhelm themselves searching for a new job.

How would you respond? Everyone is different, and you might have periods of all three of these responses. The important thing is to determine what causes unhealthy stress and try to minimize or control those emotions. These emotions may be hard to control, but it is important that you try. Perhaps you have strong emotions from watching your own parents struggle with a job loss. Or maybe you were the victim of hard times financially and that causes you anxiety and fear. No matter what it is, stay on top of those emotions and don’t let them overtake you. As dim as things might appear, they will get better

You can only control so much

The main cause of stress is when people worry about things they cannot control. Focus on what you can control and focus on solutions, not problems. For instance, don’t focus on the fact that you don’t have an income, focus on what money you have and how long that will support your family. If you need to get assistance, focus on filing for unemployment or who you can turn to for help. You are ultimately in control of your attitude and how you approach the situation. If you focus on lessons learned, what you are grateful for, and solutions to problems in front of you, that is the best way to approach it. It is all about keeping a level head and not surrendering to anxiety. If you can do that, you’ll get out of your situation must faster and easier.

The right resources

One of the reasons people feel vulnerable when they are out of work is because they have to ask others for help. It is natural to start with your network by asking if a company is hiring or for a reference. If you don’t feel comfortable asking for help or if their company isn’t hiring, you could instead engage them in a meaningful discussion about the industry you are in. However, if you share your experience about your work situation and how you’re looking for a new position, most people will lend a hand.

The road ahead

When people lose their jobs, they most certainly take time to think about their current situation and the future head. It can also be an excellent time to make a positive change. Even if that change has nothing do to with work, you are at an inflection point where you are able to do whatever you want. Most people get onto a track in life with their career, family, and where they live, and they never get off of it. They keep doing the same routine because it feels safe and easy. Don’t feel like you have to go back to doing what you were before. If you had feelings of making a fundamental change in your life before losing your job. Now is the perfect time to make that change.

Bottom line

You are not alone. First, you have your family and your friends to lean on through this. There also millions of people experiencing what you are going through right now. Don’t feel like a failure or that you are not meeting your potential because this is just a short period in a long thriving life you have to live. Keep your head up and good things will come your way.