Going from a structured work environment to the unfamiliar territory of being unemployed can shake up your mind and body so much you feel shock and stress. This is to be expected and is part of the process of adapting to a major life change event.
Many people today coping with job loss have found some of these strategies to be very helpful.
First pause, to get your sense of stability back
It can take a couple of weeks to fully comprehend and accept the change in your circumstances and how it impacts your life. Unless you know immediately what to do next, allow yourself some breathing space to “get your bearings” and find your inner sense of stability, which can be available to you even when your outer circumstances are chaotic.
Create a new routine
Structure is important for our wellbeing, so create some new habits of using your time and activity in productive ways. Choose a time to rise every morning and get up at the same time every day. Have some regular actions such as daily exercise that refresh your mind with consistency, plus at least one daily activity that gives you a sense of completion and accomplishment. You need to reinvent the “feedback loop” so you are experiencing daily activities that reinforce your usefulness, capability and confidence.
Decide to have a constructive mindset
While a job loss may be entirely out of your control, the manner in which you react to the loss is completely in your control. If you are determined to bounce back and focus on the positive aspects of your situation, it is possible to transform your adversity into a thriving opportunity.
Avoid taking things too personally
One of the most damaging things that you can do after losing your job is to harbor any negative feelings against your employer, especially if you do not understand the reasoning behind the layoff. Even the most competent and hardworking staff members are sometimes casualties of downsizing. Businesses are always changing operations for one reason or another and during these instances, tough decisions have to be made to let great employees go.
Although it can be hard to remain positive after a job loss, holding on to any negative feelings can create further problems for you, which will consequently work against you. Hidden feelings of anger or resentment usually reveal themselves in conversations such as job interviews. Give yourself a fresh start without these heavy emotions.
If you deliberately prevent yourself from getting stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, any further disappointments which are likely to occur as part of your job search journey won’t become magnified. Some people choose to learn meditation, mindfulness or other types of relaxation techniques which still the mind and replace constant negative chatter.
Avoid bad mouthing
Although it can be tempting to speak ill of your former employers, especially if you feel that your job loss was unjustified, try as much as you can to resists the urge to bad mouth your old employers.
It does not matter why you may no longer be working for the organization; you should try and focus on the positive aspects of your former job and your experience there. You never know if your previous employer may re-open and invite you back.
It is important not to burn any bridges, particularly if you intend to continue working in the same circles, field or industry.
Reach out to someone that can understand
First and foremost, you should know that there is no right or wrong way to react to a sudden job loss. Over the next few days, weeks or months, you may go through a range of different emotions, which is totally expected and understandable. Your feelings may range from anger and frustration to bitterness and disillusionment. After some time, you may also start to feel anxious about the future.
Being fired or laid off can make you feel like a failure and if you do not reflect on the actions and mistakes that led to your failure, you are a lot more likely to carry on these mistakes into your next job, therefore creating a vicious cycle.
If you can, consider reaching out to a trusted individual who can understand where you are coming from, such as a colleague or friend, to help you uncover and make sense of your feelings. If after several weeks you are still feeling defeated, you may need to seek professional assistance from a counselor or therapist that will help you work through your various emotions.
Give yourself time to analyze your next plans
Before you rush into the job search process, try and give yourself time so that you can figure out your next moves and steps. Do not feel compelled to jump into the job search right away. You will need to give yourself time in order to process the shock and the loss until you are finally ready to jump back in.
Giving yourself some time to take it all in will help you explore new possibilities and discover some new prospects. During this time, you might even decide to focus on your own business or investigate further training.
Make use of your networks
Your network is a very valuable resource. The more people you know in your professional circles, the higher your chances of learning about possible positions that you can apply for. Your network can come in very handy during your job search so, ensure that you reach out to as many people as you can to enlist their support.
Try and keep up-to-date with what is happening in your industry or profession and be open to how you can help others too, by introducing contacts or passing along information. If you are seen as sincere and helpful, others will want to help you too.
Stay focused on your future
Losing a job can be a huge surprise, especially when the signs of being laid off are not imminent. After a job loss, it can be easy to feel lost, wounded and overwhelmed as you attempt to deal with the unexpected changes. It can be easy to get stuck in a cycle of self-pity but doing so will only perpetuate destructive emotions that will fuel and magnify your sense of hopelessness.
Instead of focusing on all the things that have gone wrong, try and concentrate on your future instead and on what you will need to set yourself up for success on the job front. As time goes by, you will start to notice your focus expanding, which will further help you to pursue and stay open to future opportunities.
Watch for industry trends
The number of skilled workers and trained professionals required in each industry is constantly changing. There are gaps developing in new markets that you may be well suited for with some extra training. If you are filling a need where there is a skill shortage, your age is a lot less important and your chances of being hired is a lot higher.
Prioritize caring for yourself
After a job loss, it can be very easy to neglect your needs. However, if you are to continue surviving and thriving, you will need mental and emotional resilience, which all starts with self-care. Try as much as you can to be intentional in your weekly schedule, which means doing everything in your power to remain strong and fit.
This also means taking part in activities that excite you and lift your spirits, whether this might involve gardening or going for a walk to the beach. Doing things that make you happy will help to get rid of any negative emotions and it will help you remain proactive during your job hunt.