How to Deal with the Stress of Losing a Job

Monday, April 10 2023

It’s something no one wants to go through — losing a job. But 40% of Americans go through it every year. Being let go or laid off can be extremely stressful and disruptive to your life. In addition to causing financial woes, losing a job can affect you mentally and emotionally. 

Here, we’ll dive into what some of these effects are and what you can do to best cope with a job loss so you can build back your confidence and thrive in your next opportunity. 

The emotional and psychological effects of losing a job 

There are reasons why losing a job is often so devastating. Beyond helping us make a living, jobs can also provide our lives with structure, help us build relationships, give us a sense of pride and purpose, and even feel part of our identity. So it makes sense to not only feel stress over losing a job, but to also grieve this loss.  

Finding a new job can alleviate some or all of these negative emotions. However, if you find yourself struggling to find another job, feel a lingering sense of self-doubt even with a new job, or fear you’ll lose your job again, you may be at risk of experiencing a mental health concern such as depression, an anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Shame or embarrassment from job loss can lead to depression

Suffering from job loss may make you less likely to socialize with friends and family because you feel shame or embarrassment, which can lead to depression and more isolation. Studies have shown that unemployment is also highly linked to suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help right away. Call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or find other suicide prevention resources here

Fear and uncertainty can lead to an anxiety disorder 

Feeling anxiety over a job loss can become a problem if it leads you to pay more attention to all the uncertain aspects of your life and begins to impair your ability to function. 

Trauma from job loss can cause PTSD 

Losing a job can be traumatic — both psychologically and financially, especially if you’ve been unemployed for a long period of time. This can lead to PTSD. Symptoms include poor sleep, anxiety, depression, emotional numbness, guardedness, and heightened reactions. PTSD can make it difficult to feel safe and secure and make it challenging to find and thrive in a new job. 

Job loss coping tips: How to get back on your feet 

Losing a job is a difficult experience for anyone. You may be wondering how to best deal with this new stress and what you can do to put yourself in the best position to find a new job and get back that sense of security. Rest assured, losing a job doesn’t automatically mean a long period of stress and turmoil. Here’s what you can do to best take care of yourself so you can get back on your feet: 

1. Take a moment to reflect  

If you’ve recently been laid off or let go, your first instinct may be to apply to every job you feel qualified for in order to land your next opportunity. However, it’s important to take the time you need to acknowledge and process your feelings, and to consider what you really want for yourself in your next career opportunity. Taking a moment for yourself before starting your job search will help you avoid the risk of rushing into any new opportunities that may not be the right fit for you or what you really want. 

2. Create a plan

There’s a lot you can’t control when going through a job loss, but what you can control is what you do next. Creating both a financial and job search plan can help you feel purposeful in your actions and confident that you’re doing all you can to best manage a difficult situation. 

Creating a financial plan may mean looking at your budget and making adjustments as needed, speaking with a financial advisor, applying for unemployment, and looking into temporary insurance if needed. Creating a job search plan may mean updating your resume, carving out a set time each day to search and apply for jobs, and practicing your interviewing skills. 

3. Lean on others for support 

At first, the idea of reaching out to others to let them know that you’re looking for a new job may feel embarrassing or shameful. But remember, job loss can happen to anyone, and turning to your network for opportunities can go a long way in helping you land a new job faster. Ask your former colleagues if they know of any jobs opening up at their company, and update your LinkedIn or online profile to show that you’re open to work. Don’t be afraid to ask former colleagues if they’re willing to be a reference for you, especially if you worked closely with them and they can speak to your skills and reliability. Just talking to former colleagues who can remind you of your talents can help you regain your confidence as you look for new jobs. 

Remember, you don’t have to go through the stresses of losing a job alone. Lean on your friends and family for support, too. Staying social and avoiding isolation is key to helping you cope with stress and avoiding negative impacts to your mental health. 

4. Maintain a routine 

Change is hard, especially when it’s unexpected. Keeping a routine can help you cope with the sudden change of losing a job. This is because routines create structure and help us keep balance in our daily lives, which can help get you through the unpredictability and uncertainty of temporary unemployment. Your new routine may mean waking up and going to bed at the same time each day (even without the responsibility of getting to a job on time), spending each morning searching and applying for jobs, and taking an hour or two each day to practice some self-care, like exercising. Your routine can include whatever activities you find helpful, enjoyable, and maintainable. Just remember that consistency is key to seeing the benefits.   

5. Consider professional help 

If the stress of losing a job is starting to impact your ability to function or causing mental health concerns, seeking support from a mental health professional can help. Working one-on-one with a licensed therapist can help you develop coping skills so you can best deal with the psychological and emotional effects of losing a job. This can help you build back your confidence and put you on the best path forward to help you find success and joy in both your professional and personal life. If you’re interested in seeking therapy to help you get through the stress of losing a job, SonderMind can help connect you with a licensed therapist who’s right for your needs. 

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