It’s normal to feel hurt, vulnerable,
or angry after losing a job. The good news is
that despite the stress of job loss and unemployment,
there are many things you can do to take control
of the situation and maintain your spirits.
You can get
through this tough time by taking care of yourself,
reaching out to others, and focusing on your
goals. Losing your job can also be an opportunity
to take stock of your life, rethink your career
goals, and rediscover what truly makes you happy.
Losing a job is stressful
Our jobs are
much more than just the way we make a living.
They influence how we see ourselves, as well
as the way others see us. Our jobs give us structure,
purpose, and meaning. That’s why job loss
and unemployment is one of the most stressful
things you can experience.
loss of income, losing a job also comes with
other major losses, some of which may be even
more difficult to face:
• Loss of
your professional identity
• Loss of self-esteem and self-confidence
• Loss of your daily routine
• Loss of purposeful activity
• Loss of your work-based social network
• Loss of your sense of security
is normal after losing a job
Grief is a
natural response to loss, and that includes
the loss of a job. Losing your job takes forces
you to make rapid changes. You may feel angry,
hurt, panicked, rejected, and scared. What you
need to know is that these emotions are normal.
You have every right to be upset, so accept
your feelings and go easy on yourself.
that many, if not most, successful people have
experienced major failures in their careers.
But they’ve turned those failures around
by picking themselves up, learning from the
experience, and trying again. When bad things
happen to you— or going through unemployment—you
can grow stronger and more resilient in the
process of overcoming them.
with job loss and unemployment stress tip 1:
Face your feelings
and anxiety will make it harder to get back
on the job market, so it’s important to
actively deal with your feelings and find healthy
ways to grieve. Acknowledging your feelings
and challenging your negative thoughts will
help you deal with the loss and move on.
the emotional roller coaster of unemployment
and job loss
about your feelings. Express everything
you feel about being laid off or unemployed,
including things you wish you had said (or hadn’t
said) to your former boss. This is especially
cathartic if your layoff or termination was
handled in an insensitive way.
Accept reality. While it’s important
to acknowledge how difficult job loss and unemployment
can be, it’s equally important to avoid
wallowing. Rather than dwelling on your job
loss—how unfair it is; how poorly it was
handled; things you could have done to prevent
it; how much better life would be if it hadn’t
happened—try to accept the situation.
The sooner you do, the sooner you can get on
with the next phase in your life.
Don’t beat yourself up. It’s
easy to start criticizing or blaming yourself
when you’ve lost your job and are unemployed.
But it’s important to avoid putting yourself
down. You’ll need your self-confidence
intact as you’re looking for a new job.
Challenge every negative thought that goes through
your head. If you start to think, “I’m
a loser,” write down evidence to the contrary
(“I lost my job because of the recession,
not because I was bad at my job.”).
for the silver lining. Losing a job
is easier to accept if you can find the lesson
in your loss. What can you learn from the experience?
Maybe your job loss and unemployment has given
you a chance to reflect on what you want out
of life and rethink your career priorities.
Maybe it’s made you stronger. If you look,
you’re sure to find something of value.
• Taking refuge in your “cave”
may provide temporary comfort, but is little
help if your time spent there is not constructive.
Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive
family and friends may better help your self-esteem.
• Venting your anger and frustrations
may only make you feel worse if you find yourself
in the middle of a “pity party.”
There are people who actually enjoy misery and
the misfortune of others.
• Drinking is at best a temporary relief,
and for some people, can lead to a crippling
Coping with job loss and unemployment
stress tip 2: Reach out
underestimate the importance of other people
when you’re faced with job loss and unemployment.
Be proactive. Let people know that you lost
your job and are looking for work.
will help you feel more in control of your situation—and
you never know what opportunities will arise.
Plus, the outpouring of support you receive
may pleasantly surprise you. Simple words of
sympathy and encouragement can be a huge boost
in this difficult time.
to people you trust for support
Share what you’re
going through with the people you love and trust.
Ask for the support you need. Don’t try
to shoulder the stress of job loss and unemployment
alone. Your natural reaction may be to withdraw
out of embarrassment and shame or to resist
asking for help out of pride. But avoid the
tendency to isolate! You will only feel worse.
or start a job club
Other job seekers
can be invaluable sources of encouragement,
support, and job leads. You can tap into this
resource by joining or starting a job club.
Being around other job seekers can be energizing
and motivating, and help keep you on track during
your job search.
To find a job
club in your area, check out:
• Your local public library
• College and university career centers
• Professional networking sites
• The classifieds or career section of
connected through networking
The vast majority
of job openings are never advertised; they’re
filled by word of mouth. That’s why networking
is the best way to find a job. Unfortunately,
many job seekers are hesitant to take advantage
of networking because they’re afraid of
being seen as pushy, annoying, or self-serving.
But networking isn’t about using other
people or aggressively promoting yourself—it’s
about building relationships. As you look for
a new job, these relationships can provide much-needed
feedback, advice, and support.
is much easier than you think
Networking may sound intimidating or difficult—especially
when it comes to finding a job or asking for
help—but it doesn’t have to be.
Networking can be rewarding and fun, even if
you’re shy or you feel like you don’t
know many people.
Read: Job Networking Tips: How to Find a Job
By Building Relationships
with job loss and unemployment stress tip 3:
Involve your family
affects the whole family, so keep the lines
of communication open. Tell your family what’s
going on and involve them in major decisions.
Keeping your job loss or your unemployment a
secret will only make the situation worse. Working
together as a family will help you survive and
thrive, even in this difficult time.
Keep your family in the loop. Tell
them about your job search plans, let them know
how you’re spending your time, update
them on promising developments, and let them
know how they can support you while you’re
to their concerns. Your family members
are worried about you, as well as their own
stability and future. Give them a chance to
talk about their concerns and offer suggestions
regarding your job loss and unemployment.
time for family fun. Set aside regular
family fun time where you can enjoy each others’
company, let off steam, and forget about your
job loss and unemployment troubles. This will
help the whole family stay positive.
Children Cope with a Parent’s Unemployment
may be deeply affected by a parent's unemployment.
It is important for them to know what has happened
and how it will affect the family. However,
try not to overburden them with the responsibility
of too many of the emotional or financial details.
Keep an open dialogue with your children. Letting
them know what is really going on is vital.
Children have a way of imagining the worst when
they write their own "scripts," so
the facts can actually be far less devastating
than what they envision.
Make sure your children know it's not anybody's
fault. Children may not understand about job
loss and immediately think that you did something
wrong to cause it. Or, they may feel that somehow
they are responsible or financially burdensome.
They need reassurance in these matters, regardless
of their age.
Children need to feel they are helping. They
want to help and having them do something like
taking a cut in allowance, deferring expensive
purchases, or getting an after-school job can
make them feel as if they are part of the team.
with job loss and unemployment stress tip 4:
Take care of yourself
of job loss and unemployment can take a toll
on your health. Now more than ever, it’s
important to take care of yourself. That means
looking after your emotional and physical needs
and making stress management a priority.
for managing unemployment stress:
balance in your life. Don’t let
your job search consume you. Make time for fun,
rest, and relaxation—whatever revitalizes
you. Your job search will be more effective
if you are mentally, emotionally, and physically
at your best.
time for regular exercise. Exercise
can be a great outlet for stress and worry while
you’re unemployed and looking for work.
It is also a powerful mood and energy booster.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most
days of the week.
plenty of sleep. Sleep has a huge influence
on your mood and productivity. Make sure you’re
getting between 7 to 8 hours of sleep every
night. It will help you keep your stress levels
under control and maintain your focus throughout
your job search...
relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques
such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga
are a powerful antidote to stress. They also
boost your feelings of serenity and joy and
teach you how to stay calm and collected in
challenging situations—including job loss
positive during a long job search
A long job search can wear on your attitude
and outlook, especially if you’re unemployed.
If it’s taking you longer than anticipated
to find work, the following tips can help you
stay focused and upbeat.
a regular daily routine. When you no
longer have a job to report to every day, you
can easily lose motivation. Treat your job search
like a regular job, with a daily “start”
and “end” time. Following a set
schedule will help you be more efficient and
productive while you’re unemployed.
a job search plan. Avoid getting overwhelmed
by breaking big goals into small, manageable
steps. Instead of trying to do everything at
once, set priorities. If you’re not having
luck in your job search, take some time to rethink
your positives. Make a list of all
the things you like about yourself, including
skills, personality traits, accomplishments,
and successes. Write down projects you’re
proud of, situations where you excelled, and
things you’re good at. Revisit this list
often to remind yourself of your strengths.
Unemployment and job loss can wear on your self-esteem
and make you feel useless. Volunteering helps
you maintain a sense of value and purpose. And
helping others is an instantaneous mood booster.
Volunteering can also provide career experience,
social support, and networking opportunities.
Focus on the things you can control.
You can’t control how quickly a potential
employer calls you back or whether or not they
decide to hire you. Rather than wasting your
precious energy on things that are out of your
hands, turn your attention to things you can
control during your unemployment,, such as writing
a great cover letter and resume tailored to
the company you want to work for and setting
up meetings with your networking contacts.