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5 Ways to Cope with Sudden Unemployment

The pandemic has taken your job - learn how to maintain your mental health.

Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash
Sudden job loss causes serious stress.
Source: Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

A second wave of job cuts is predicted to affect close to 6 million workers. While the first wave, during February and March, impacted more front line workers, the second wave will impact more managerial and supervisory workers. While the first wave of job cuts impacted workers in the hospitality, retail, and restaurant industries, the second wave will include people working in science-based jobs, finance, and marketing. People who thought they had job security, even through Covid-19, are suddenly finding that security was a myth.

What do you do when your world has just been turned upside down? How can you find some comfort when it feels like your source of stability is gone? Read on for how to maintain good mental health even when things are getting rough.

You Are Not Alone

More than 40 million applications for unemployment benefits have been filed since the middle of March. If there wasn't a pandemic, you would probably run into other people who have lost their jobs. There's a sense of "universality" when you realize other people are going through the same thing. You feel less alone. A large number of people are still staying at home due to Covid-19, so you are less likely to run into a friend at the grocery store who also lost their job. It can feel even more isolating when you don't have access to people in the same situation. Know that you do have many other people who are in the same situation as you. They felt pretty stable in their jobs, and now that is gone. There is comfort in knowing you are not alone.

Form a Support System

Since face-to-face contact isn't as likely right now, reach out for virtual ways to connect with others who have lost their jobs, and also reach out to resources of potential jobs. On Twitter every Monday at 9pm Eastern time there is a #jobhuntchat group that "meets." The group is run by a moderator, and participants discuss how they are feeling and also can reach out for advice. MeetUp may have groups in your community for people that have recently lost their jobs. If there isn't already a group, start one. Reach out to people on LinkedIn, and let people know that you are out of work. While it might feel uncomfortable, the more people that know you are looking for work, the more you may hear about available jobs. Remember, you are not alone.

Give Yourself Some Time

You may be thinking, "I don't have time. I have people I need to support." Giving yourself time to process what has happened is not the same thing as taking a break from a job search. (If you can afford to take some time off, you are ahead of the game.) Giving yourself some time is to spend a moment grieving what you have just been through. Not only are we experiencing a pandemic, but you have lost a part of your life that defined you. A job is more than a paycheck — it is how we identify ourselves and how we derive, at least in part, a sense of meaning. Give yourself time to feel angry, disappointed, frustrated, sad, and even panicked. When we try to block unpleasant feelings, they tend to come back with a vengeance — and that can affect how you interact with your loved ones and how you come across in interviews. Feel what you need to feel. And remember, feelings are temporary.

Get Enough Rest

Experiencing insomnia is common when you have lost your job. You may have already been experiencing anxiety due to the pandemic and anticipating a possible job loss. Now it has doubled. When we aren't getting enough sleep, it can cause decision-making and clear thinking to become very difficult. Try to keep yourself on a regular sleep schedule — get up at the same time each morning, and go to bed at the same time each night. Shut off electronics an hour before bed, and engage in a relaxing activity. If you have tried keeping up good sleep habits and are still having difficulties sleeping, see your prescriber. Medication can at least help you get through the initial difficulties with sleep. Sometimes once we are on a regular sleep pattern, our brain "learns" it, and it is easier to get to sleep.

Consider taking up meditation. It has been found to decrease stress and increase self-compassion. And you don't need any special equipment to do it. The meditation app Headspace is offering one year for free if you have lost your job due to Covid-19.

Keep a Routine

When you are out of work, the structure of your day is gone. We tell the passing of time by our schedule. With unstructured time, you may feel like you are aimlessly floating. It's time to set your own routine. Every morning, get right out of bed, take a shower, and get dressed. Just doing this can get your day off to a better start. Block out times on your schedule for job-seeking, meal times, and exercise. Exercise is especially important right now due to the positive benefits on your physical and emotional health, including strengthening your immune system and increasing dopamine in your brain. The more you can keep some "sameness" to your day, the better.

The author has no affiliation nor any financial arrangement with the companies listed in the article.

Copyright 2020 Sarkis Media LLC