Layoffs are already the buzzword and hashtag of the season. As tech giants Meta, Twitter, Disney and Amazon, among many other big and small fish in the business ecosystem, undertake a firing spree, they are leaving several employees emotionally and mentally wounded. For some, the financial anxiety of losing a job is the real pinch. But for most, the emotional upheaval that a layoff brings, is the deeper wound that takes time to heal. So, the question is, how to deal with layoffs?
Losing a job, which not just pays off one’s bills but is a means to fulfill one’s passion, can crumble one’s confidence, lead to stress, anxiety, depression and anger. It may be normal to feel helpless, hapless and hopeless, all at the same time. But you’ve got to find inner strength to rebuild your confidence after a layoff, and bounce back!
According to psychotherapist and life coach Dr Chandni Tugnait, losing a job can be one of the most stressful life events a person can experience. And the side effects of stress aren’t good for anybody!
“Job loss is said to be the second in life stressors, after the death of a spouse or child. And it’s not just the loss of income that can be so damaging; it’s also the loss of status, routine, and a sense of purpose,” Dr Tugnait tells Health Shots.
The fear of being unemployed – suddenly – is legit! In addition to that comes the emotional impact which includes feelings of guilt, sadness, anger, betrayal, and shame. “All these factors can contribute to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” adds Dr Tugnait.
People can go through different emotional stages of being laid off. In mental health parlance, layoffs can trigger ‘cluster feelings’ which may be normal to experience.
The first step to handle being laid off is to acknowledge your feelings. It is also okay to seek social and professional support to start rebuilding your life and confidence after a layoff.
“For those who have been laid off, seeking help from a professional early on, you can minimize the long-term effects of being laid off on your mental health,” says Dr Tugnait.
It’s okay to feel like you’ve lost your identity in the process of losing your job. This may be accompanied by a feeling of failure – of yourself or your family. But hey, it’s normal and there’s a way to cope with this negative health effect of a job loss. There’s a way to move on from failure.
“It’s important to allow yourself to experience these emotions and to talk about them with someone who can understand and support you. Also, start journaling to release pent up emotions and to gain clarity on the path ahead,” advises Dr Tugnait.
If you’ve been a victim to mass layoffs, it’s natural to grieve. You may get sad, overthink about situations and get engulfed in self-doubt. But it’s okay.
“This is not a time to beat yourself up or try to immediately find another job. Instead, take some time for self-care (if you can). Exercise, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, and spend time with supportive people,” says Dr Tugnait.
The expert believes these will help you to cope with the stress of unemployment and lay the groundwork for finding your next job. Simultaneously, you should also rebuild your confidence to start afresh with zeal.
Give yourself time to handle the volley of emotions you may experience as you face a layoff. Follow these basic tips to survive the mental health effects of a layoff, suggests Dr Tugnait:
It’s normal to feel upset, scared and angry after a layoff. Don’t try to bottle up your emotions. Instead, allow yourself to grieve and process your emotions.
Lean on your friends and family for emotional support during this difficult time. Don’t underestimate the importance of a strong support system as you grapple with the mental health impact of losing a job.
Maintain a safe distance from alcohol or drugs. Instead of turning to these vices, opt for meditation or mindfulness as a healthy coping strategy.
Once you’ve had time to process your layoff, start thinking about what’s next – what are your goals and how can you achieve them?
If your emotions are proving to be too much to handle on your own, consider seeking counseling or therapy.
Eminent psychiatrist Dr Samir Parikh believes that while change is the only constant in life, and ups and downs are a part of the graph, you should never let an external circumstance question yourself.
Self-belief and self-confidence, will in fact, be your greatest strengths when you may feel your weakest.
“If a company has decided for some reason to layoff a percentage of people and you happen to be in that, does not mean you don’t have worth. Remember, it won’t take anything away from your skill set, your ability, your past success and your future. And that belief is an absolute must,” asserts Dr Parikh.
Dr Parikh suggests anyone has lost a job must focus on:
* Carry forward your learning
* Maintain relationships
* Believe in yourself
* Look for the next option
* Maintain a regular healthy routine till you find the next option
Layoff anxiety is something everyone can experience every now and then. But you’ve got to focus on what you can control – in this case, your thoughts!
“If you feel you are now going through distress which is continuous, and it is affecting your quality of life, you should probably talk to a mental health expert. But when it comes to rebuilding confidence, just look at your past success and remember your strengths. They can never be taken away from you,” shares Dr Parikh.
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