Managing the Stress of a Job Loss

Losing a job is one of the most stressful events that you can experience. The amount of grief, anger, sadness, and anxiety that comes with it can be overwhelming. It’s natural to feel this way, and it’s natural to even feel apathetic to the situation. It’s a process and you can experience a wide range of emotions during the first few weeks after you’ve left your job.

There are some simple and effective strategies to help you get through this challenging time and come out feeling more confident.

First Things First

Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and be gentle with yourself. Even people that know their job is in jeopardy can feel a sense of disbelief when it happens. This is completely normal.

Take a Break

After you’ve found out that your position has been eliminated, the very best thing to do is pause and take a few days, even a couple of weeks if you are in a financial position to do so. This is not a luxury everyone has when they lose their job, but if the option is available to you, it’s a good idea to take it. You’ve left one enormous part of your life behind and you will need to figure out what you want to do next. Giving yourself some space can help you clear your mind and really identify what you want to do.

Your natural impulse when you first lose your job might be to jump in and start looking for another one. However, it’s best to let things settle and develop a clear vision of what you want to do next. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to rush out and tell everyone you know that you need a job. Letting your contacts know that you’re looking is something that is best done once you are crystal clear about your goals and how others can help.

Some things to consider: have you been thinking about a career change recently? What do you need to do to position yourself for that? What did you love about your job? What did you dislike? Take some time to write these things down and narrow in on what you truly love to do and what you do well. Getting clear on this will allow you to reposition yourself as you present yourself to potential new employers. In many instances the job you will go to next will be even better than the last job, provided you are clear on what you do and don’t want to do and what you need in terms of a compensation package.

Connect with Your Support System

It’s important to have a robust support system in your corner. That may be your spouse, other family members, sympathetic friends, or any other community organization that you may be a part of. Find someone you can share your concerns with and that can help keep your spirits lifted.
If you don’t feel that you have a good support system around you, this could be a great time to enlist the help of a therapist.

Shift Your Focus

Losing your job provides a perfect opportunity to tackle all of those projects you’ve been putting off. Have a home DIY project? Now’s the time. It’s also a great opportunity to read those books you’ve been wanting to read, spend time with your family, get more exercise and maybe even learn a new skill you’ve been wanting to learn.

If you’ve got insurance coverage paid for by your employer and you still have preventative visits to schedule, this is also an opportune time to check those off of your to-do list.

Balance Your Time

Once you embark on the new job search, it’s important to make sure you’re balancing job search time with other activities in your life. Searching for a new job can be a full-time job. Set up a daily routine and incorporate activities that you enjoy into your day. Perhaps you can dedicate your mornings to job searches and writing cover letters, then spend your afternoon working on home projects. Once you’re clear on what you want to do, incorporate some networking time into your week so you can continue to meet more people and make new connections that could lead to your next job.

In the meantime, focus on the positive wherever you can. Grab a journal and make a gratitude list on the days you’re struggling. Some professionals that are in between jobs find doing a daily gratitude list is a helpful practice to keep them in a positive mindset. Do the things you enjoy and cherish this time. Before you know it, you’ll be back to working again.


If you need extra help narrowing down the next steps to take in your job search, contact our Job Coach, Bonnie Brill and find out about our Job Search Consulting services.