Keep your chin up amid job loss

You didn't see it coming. Whilst we all have ups and downs at work, you thought things were going smoothly enough. And then that fateful message landed in your inbox. The subject line read, "Meeting with HR" and a knot in your stomach instantly formed.

That was the beginning of the end and you soon found yourself officially unemployed. It was an undeniable shock. If you're not sure how to handle the emotional turmoil that comes with losing your job, here's everything you need to know to get back on your feet.

Let yourself grieve

Nobody died, but you may still need to grieve; a loss is a loss, after all. According to the well-known Kübler-Ross model, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There's a good chance that you will experience some ‒ or even all ‒ of these emotions when you first lose your job. And that's perfectly OK.

Losing your job is no small life change and nor should you treat it like one. Experts from the University of Michigan argue that job loss marks a difficult transition in life and can have an impact on your social life as well as your immediate resources, i.e. your finances. What's more, the experts also state that job loss can affect your sense of identity. Put simply, it's natural that you experience a roller coaster of emotions in the wake of being let go. It will take time to mentally adjust to this new phase and move forward.

It's a lot to process and you're unlikely to mentally unpack it all overnight. However, by giving yourself some time and being kind to yourself, you can weather this period.

Boost your self-care routine

Let's take a moment to talk about your self-care. As you've just had a shock, you need to up your self-care routine and ensure that you're supporting your mental wellness. That means taking the time to relax and be mindful of your emotions.

Your gut reaction to losing your job may be to apply, apply, and apply some more for new roles. However, burning yourself out isn't necessarily the best way forward. The secret ingredient here is balance. Schedule your days so that you allocate time for different things. You can set aside some time for job hunting as well as down-time for reading, exercising, meditating ‒ basically doing anything that helps you to unwind and switch off. Some suggestions include:

Spending some time outdoors

In the wake of losing your job, you may be tempted to spend your days sitting on the sofa or even under the duvet in bed. However, hibernating and avoiding the outside world won't do you any favours in the long run.

Simply having a walk outside could make a massive difference in how you feel. Research published in Frontiers Journal suggests that spending 20 minutes in nature significantly lowers levels of stress hormones. Even if you're feeling ready to start your job search, taking breaks to get out for a while is still a smart move.

Asking for help

Losing your job can be lonely, but you don't have to go through it alone. Your gut may tell you to hide away (preferably beneath your duvet!) until it all blows over. However, doing so will further isolate you and, ultimately, make you feel worse. Instead, you need to ask for help from the people around you. Whether it's your family, friends, or even some former co-workers, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you reach out and ask for help.

If you feel that you're floundering, speak to the people closest to you and let them know what's going on. You might want to arrange a catch up over the phone or meet them for a quick chat over some tea. Get things off your chest by simply telling someone how you're feeling and ‒ in all honesty ‒ how difficult things have been. Plus, the people you speak to may be able to help you in your job search.

Exercising regularly

Pull on your trainers! While you may not feel like heading out for a run or cycle, doing so is a step in the right direction for self-care. If you're feeling down after losing your job, a quick session could help. One study suggests that aerobic exercise can boost your mood and help you to feel less sad.

It doesn't end there either. Research published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment Journal suggests that exercising can boost your self-esteem. With that in mind, committing to a regular workout routine could help you improve your confidence levels ahead of finding a new role. Dedicating time to getting active and focusing on yourself is key.

Reflect on the experience

When considering how to handle losing your job, there's one thing that we can't overlook: you have to learn from the experience. That's not to say that this situation was your fault. However, you need to look at things objectively and consider what caused it to happen. Perhaps you were not well-suited for the role at hand. Perhaps you needed to further develop your skill set. Perhaps you were overqualified for the job. Perhaps the company was making mass redundancies. 

Whatever the reason for your dismissal, it's important to acknowledge it and use that information to move forward. If you want a real insight into the cause of the issue, you can ask your former employer for some constructive feedback. It's a brave move, but it will help you to develop yourself professionally for future roles.

Establish a routine

When you're unemployed, you will suddenly have way more free time on your hands. Though you'll use some of this time to apply for new jobs and sign up to agencies, you'll struggle to do so all day, every day. Therefore, ensure that you make the most of this period. Here are some ideas that will help you to productively fill your time:

  • Develop new skills online

  • Volunteer to gain extra experience

  • Cultivate new friendships by joining a new social activity or the gym

  • Network and go for professional coffee dates, also known as informational interviews

Refresh your CV and get applying

Of course, whilst you're making these moves to take care of your mental health, getting back on the job-search horse is the only way to get yourself out of unemployment limbo and back to work. Thus, this period is a good time to refresh your CV and add the experience and skills you've gained since your last hunt. You can even take the pressure off yourself by enlisting the help of a professional CV writer who will rework your document for you ‒ and make it better.

Focus on getting through your job loss ‒ we'll take care of your CV. Learn more about working with a professional CV writer.

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