Advise Me

How To Handle The Stress Of Losing A Job

It’s not a situation anyone wants to be in: you’ve lost your job. What do you do now?

“There is no ideal way to navigate a sudden, unexpected change in your life circumstances, like losing a job,” Scott Bartlett said. Bartlett is a licensed clinical social worker and Behavioral Health Case Management Services Director for Banner Behavioral Health Hospital.

Having intense feelings is normal, according to Bartlett. “For some people, taking action quickly can help alleviate uncomfortable feelings. For others, taking time to acknowledge the feelings associated with this significant loss is needed before they can move forward,” Bartlett said.

Feelings After Job Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while each person – and their response to change and loss – can be different, some possible mental and physical signs of stress you may feel after losing your job include:

  • Nervousness or restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite or emotional eating/overeating
  • Panic
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Tearfulness
  • Anger, blame and/or resentment toward your former employer
  • Feeling incompetent or self-blame
  • Worry, uncertainty or fear of the future
  • Feeling immobilized and unable to take any action
  • Feeling vulnerable, worthless or a sense of hopelessness

According to Bartlett, it’s important to process these feelings and realistically assess the circumstances surrounding your job loss. “If your employer made it clear that the decision had nothing to do with your skills and abilities to perform the job, be sure you keep this information vivid in your thoughts,” Bartlett said. This can help you combat feelings of self-doubt. On the other hand, Bartlett said, “If your employer cites your job performance, start to identify how you can accept this painful feedback and use it to make positive decisions for your future.”

Processing the Loss

When it comes to feelings of loss, there is no “right” way to move forward; each person experiences life changes in their own way. No matter how you process, Bartlett offers these coping tips to consider:

Identify what you can control: As you move through your own emotional response, focus on what remains firmly within your control: your daily thoughts; what you choose to read, believe, and focus on; and how and with whom you spend your time.

Clean your emotional house: Identify any personal habits or behaviors that are harmful or not supportive of your professional and personal growth and work on changing those.

Take care of yourself: Pay attention to your diet and exercise and engage or re-engage in any helpful spiritual practice. Allow your friends and family to support and encourage you.

Make a daily schedule: Write down how you plan to spend each day and do your best to stick to it. The sudden change from no free time to too much can create problems later.

Tap into your creativity: Having a creative or expressive outlet can provide relief and new-found energy to support you in this transition.

“It’s important to gather the facts surrounding your job loss and make a good assessment of what has just happened before charting the course to seek new employment,” Bartlett said.

Moving Forward

Once you feel ready, Bartlett suggests these steps to prepare you for finding your next job:

  • Determine if you need to learn a new skill: Look ahead at the job you seek and determine if there’s a tangible skill you could improve upon with additional training or a brush-up course to sharpen a skill you already have.
  • Review your resume: Be sure your resume includes your most recently acquired skills and tasks performed. If writing isn’t your strongest skill, consider hiring a resume writer to help make you shine on paper.
  • Practice writing a cover letter: Prepare a cover letter summarizing your career activities and aspirations, as well as any recent successes and accomplishments you would like to highlight. Read and re-read what you have written, letting it sink in, so you accept and believe what you’re writing.
  • Work your contacts: Let your professional network know you’re in the job market.

Experiencing job loss is never easy. For help in dealing with this unpleasant experience, contact Banner Behavioral Health.

Behavioral Health Stress