Regardless of the reason, losing a job is one of life’s most stressful experiences. Our work is often more than just about earning a living: it affects how we see ourselves and how others see us. No matter what our job is, it defines our social status and gives our life structure, a goal, and meaning.
Understanding the stress around job loss
That is why, beyond the stress brought on by a drop in income, job loss also has significant repercussions on mental health.
The impact can vary from one person to the next depending on circumstances, the length of the compensation package and the person’s capacity to provide for their needs and those of their dependents. Each person experiences a wide range of emotions. However, many experience a similar emotional pattern, describing an “emotional roller coaster” that throws them off balance and prevents them from regaining self-confidence.
Suddenly finding yourself without a job can give rise to emotions such as anger, frustration, and sometimes even shame.
The resulting stress can be overwhelming. But with time and good adjustment techniques, we learn how to overcome this setback, reduce our stress and anxiety and resume our professional lives.
Accepting the stages of job loss
The stages of acceptance after losing a job are often similar to the stages of grief: shock, denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. To move forward and start the process of returning to work, you have to go through these stages, the length of which can vary from person to person.
Consider your job loss as a temporary setback and put in place simple strategies that will allow you to move towards your next job at your speed.
Accept that your feelings are normal. This is already the first step. For example, you can write down your feelings. This will help put your emotions in words, and you can observe their evolution over time.
Talk about this with others:
Your natural reaction during this difficult period of job loss might be to distance yourself from friends and family out of shame or embarrassment. However, don’t underestimate the importance of your circle of acquaintances when you’re dealing with the stress of losing a job and being jobless. This way, your loved ones can support you, and you might even rebound more easily because of their help.
Remember that the people you’re confiding in don’t have to offer solutions; they simply have to know how to listen attentively, without judgment.
Continue with your other activities, or expand your horizons and try new things:
Establish a bit of a schedule, starting with one activity per day, to help you remain active, while setting aside some time for reflection.
Anything that allows you to take care of yourself and maintain balance in your life is good. Above all else, focus on the things you can control.
Recognize also that self-esteem is connected to confidence in your skills, not to the continuity of income. So even if a job is an important marker of identity, you can find other ways to define yourself by:
- Pursuing or discovering activities that give you a purpose and joy, like a physical or artistic activity
- Exploring new training or updating your skills, so that you have additional skills for your new job
- Volunteering! Not only will this keep you active and help you maintain social ties, as an added benefit, you will also gain experience that will be valued on a professional level.
The job search action plan
Finally, when you feel ready, you can start to think about your back-to-work plan.
To start, it’s important to engage in personal introspection and set a clear objective of your steps. Asking for free professional guidance to help you in this process will help you rediscover your skills and strengths, all while identifying your weaknesses and addressing them.
What you can also do:
- Network: A network is very important when looking for work. Reaching out to your contacts and making use of your professional relationships by tapping into social networks or attending networking events, for example, can open doors.
- Talk to a mentor: Obtaining the support of a mentor can be essential to maintaining ties with your professional environment.
- Enrol in a job search support program: Emotional support, a work team, dedicated guidance counsellors: looking for a job can also be a time of self-fulfilment and self-discovery.
During this time, continue to take time for yourself
You can’t spend 8 hours a day looking for work. Spend time with family and friends, and take the time for your favourite activities. This will help you pass the time and recharge your batteries to be ready to face the challenges of looking for work.
Was this article helpful? Do you want to find out more about job loss coping ? Do you want help returning to work?
The YWCA is there for you.
Want to know more about our three employment preparation programs? Have a question or are need information?
Do not hesitate to contact us.
By phone : 514 866-9941, #416 or by filling out the form below. We will contact you shortly.