7 Ways to Deal With the Emotional Blow of Losing Your Job

1. Acknowledge the loss and allow yourself to grieve.

It’s understandable that you may feel pressure to start your job search right away after being laid off, but it can be helpful to take some time to allow yourself to emotionally recover before jumping into the job hunt. Consider taking a day or two to focus on self-care and do things that bring you joy, such as going for a hike or engaging in a creative hobby. This can help you clear your mind and feel more rejuvenated before starting your job search. As Dr. Kim advises, “When possible, allow yourself a bit of a break…to take a breath and focus on taking care of yourself.”

2. Try to create a new routine that feels good to you.

If you’re not sure where to begin, try not to overthink it. Simply make a list of the things you’d like to accomplish and when you’d like to do them. For instance, you could include having your morning coffee and using that time to search job boards, scheduling a daily walk or workout, and setting aside a few hours each week to update your resume or apply for a job. Just start with a few small tasks and build from there.

3. Make a point to stay social.

It has been demonstrated through research that individuals who have experienced job loss often isolate themselves and feel lonely. Losing employment can remove the sense of community that is often gained from the workplace. Additionally, there is often a stigma surrounding unemployment, which can cause people to feel ashamed or like a failure, leading to further withdrawal. It is also known that those who have less social support, both personally and professionally, are more prone to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

4. Adopt a realistic mindset.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or fearful as you search for a new job, try to practice some self-compassion and remind yourself that it’s okay if it takes longer than you initially hoped to find a job that, (1) you’re excited about, and (2) meets most of your requirements for pay and benefits. No matter your work experience, that takes time, and acknowledging this can prevent you from getting discouraged. “It will turn out eventually, but it’s just a process,” Dr. Wanberg says. 

5. Reach out to a few people in your field.

Networking can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. According to Dr. Wanberg, reaching out to people in your industry, like former colleagues or acquaintances in your field, can help improve your job hunting strategy, provide feedback on your goals, and even just provide moral support. Engaging with your professional networks can also potentially help you find your next job faster. It’s important to remember that networking doesn’t have to be a constant, daily activity – it can be as simple as reaching out to a few people in your industry to check in and see how they are doing.

6. Spend some time thinking about what you want for your future.

She suggests using the extra time to get to know yourself better and discover what interests and passions make you unique. This could include trying new hobbies, taking a course related to your career goals or skills you want to develop, or revisiting activities and plans that you may have put on hold due to work commitments. Consider going back to school, volunteering with a nonprofit organization, or resuming a side project that you previously abandoned.

7. If you start to panic, engage your vagus nerve.

If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed due to being laid off, it can be helpful to try a few minutes of deep breathing exercises. These exercises can stimulate the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and promotes a feeling of calmness and relaxation. “This process is your key to instant stress reduction,” according to Dr. Kim. By taking some deep breaths, you can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and better cope with the challenges of unemployment.