Shift your focus from looking at things that are out of your control to what is in your control after losing your job, advises Dr Shefalika Sahai.
Losing your job can be particularly stressful for individuals who associate a strong sense of identity with their work.
Losing their job is almost synonymous with being stripped out of their identity and this feeling may even be magnified when a large part of their life revolves around work.
Not knowing what to do next or where one would land up again, not only leads to uncertainty, which in itself can be quite frightening, but the financial loss, stress associated with finding another job, pressures of going through interviews again amongst many others can be equally daunting.
If an organisation has decided to lay you off, it does not mean there is something wrong with you or you are not good enough.
While it is okay to feel sad or helpless at times, but we've got to rekindle that inner strength and bounce back!
Here are some steps that you can take to fight back and take charge of your mental health:
1. Pause & Acknowledge the loss
Emotions are typically at their highest right after a layoff.
Even if you are a victim of a wider wave of layoffs, you could experience a mixture of shock, anger, disbelief, betrayal, and embarrassment.
Take time to process your feelings, instead of dismissing your feelings or hurrying up or bottling up your emotions.
It's important to ask yourself questions like 'How am I feeling?' 'What do I need immediately?' and 'What should be my plan for the next X days?' to process your feelings and make an action plan for the immediate future.
2. Recreate Daily Routines
Remember, for a few days, there is no shame in using this time to sleep in till late and binge watch a series.
But completely throwing away your routine out of the window might not be the best plan and may not be necessarily helpful!
Adding some structure to this routine won't harm you.
Hou et al, (2020) reported that regularising routines can cushion one from the negative effects of stress.
Routines act as a buffer to stress and can safeguard us by giving us a sense of control which we may have lost in the aftermath of the layoff.
Not sure where and how to start? Don't overthink it.
Creating simple routines such as waking up at a similar time as before, enjoying your morning coffee/tea, reading the newspaper, taking some time out to tweak your resume a bit can provide us with the necessary support and improve our mood.
3. Set boundaries for your job hunt
You may feel the pressure to immediately start off looking for a new job, however, it is important that we give ourselves some time and space to recover from this hit.
Devoting all or most of your time for a job hunt can be stressful and frustrating.
Dedicate specific times of the day for doing your research instead of going at it with full force in one go. This will allow you to be more productive and attentive in your search.
Also, take out time to do other things including learning a new skill so you feel a sense of accomplishment and feel at par with others.
4. Sphere of Influence: Focus On What You Can Control
We often cannot always control what happens to us, what we can instead control is how we can handle what happened to us.
Shift your focus from looking at things that are out of your control to what IS in your control after losing your job.
You may not have control over your income at this point of time, but you have control over how you spend your remaining money effectively.
5. Tame your Monkey Mind: Stop The Spiral Of Self-doubt
"Can I really do this?" Or "I don't know maybe" or even "Are you sure?".
Our mind is like a little monkey jumping from one branch to another.
It usually starts with a single doubt and it can make you think twice and question everything you've been thinking or planning to do.
Self-doubt is more jeopardising than we realise. And if you suffer from imposter syndrome, the lay off and the self-doubt will confirm all your underlying insecurities.
Don't fall in the trap of this spiral.
- Focus on your language: What you say to yourself. Resist the urge to kick yourself down and instead support yourself by offering a hand of self-compassion.
- Turn your Inner Critic into your Inner Ally. Instead of saying 'I can't do this', say, 'I'll give it my best shot.'
- Reframe your mindset: Instead of questioning your skills and abilities, remind yourself of your strengths.
- Say something positive to yourself: This too shall pass. Believe in yourself. This self-talk is critical in rebuilding your confidence
Don't let your self-doubt plague and defeat you!
6. Relax your nerves
If you are feeling overwhelmed, try a few minutes of deep breathing exercises or any form of relaxation to ground yourself in the present moment when your mind is juggling around between various thoughts, thereby, reducing stress and allowing you to cope better.
Sit comfortably on a chair with your shoulders and neck supported against the back of the chair or lie down on your back on the bed or floor with your head supported with a pillow.
Take a deep breath through your nose and then exhale through your mouth. Begin with at least 3 counts of breath and continue till you feel slightly better.
7. Self-Care & Love
In the rush of things, we often forget to take care of ourselves.
When we were working, we did not have time. And now when we have the time, we are chasing new opportunities.
When we feel down and low, we need to be kinder to ourselves. It is important to also take care of oneself physically and emotionally.
Take time out for yourself to do something you love. It could be picking up an old, inexpensive hobby, savouring a cup of tea or coffee or simply hugging yourself- anything you love to do!
8. Talk it out
Sharing your emotions helps you process things that have happened and will allow you to move forward.
Don't hesitate to ask your friends for help. They may not always be able to provide you with a solution, but they surely will be able to offer a listening ear and support you during these difficult times.
And who knows it might even open a door for an opportunity!
If your challenges persist and managing your emotions seems difficult, take professional help to cope with this phase of your life.
Dr Shefalika Sahai, MPhil (Clinical Psychology), is a clinical psychologist at Even Healthcare.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com