Losing a job, or even fearing potential job loss, is a profoundly emotional and uncertain experience, laden with financial concerns and the anxiety of securing new employment.
Recent times have seen a surge in job insecurity, with 75 percent of Americans expressing worries about widespread job losses and 39 percent fearing their job loss, as per an April 2023 Morning Consult poll.
The impact of a layoff goes beyond financial stress, affecting individuals at a fundamental level. Dr. Dan Lieberman, Senior Vice President of Mental Health at Hims & Hers, emphasizes the psychological toll of losing one’s job. “Suddenly, all the things we take for granted, like being able to pay the rent, become a source of worry and stress,” he notes.
Beyond financial concerns, a job loss often intertwines with one’s identity and self-worth, making it crucial to safeguard mental health during this challenging period. Therapists offer valuable insights into coping mechanisms for those dealing with a layoff.
Understanding the Mental Health Impact of a Layoff
The emotional toll of a job loss is significant, with potential effects on mental health. Dr. Anisha Patel-Dunn, Chief Medical Officer at LifeStance Health, highlights that being laid off can induce stress, depression, and anxiety, especially for primary breadwinners or caregivers. Additionally, the upheaval can prompt self-worth questioning and concerns about plans.
Even the fear of potential layoffs can lead to anxiety, increased work hours, and disrupted sleep patterns, notes Nicole Erkfitz, Executive Director at AMFM Healthcare. Stress-related consequences may manifest as reduced family time, neglected healthy habits, irritability, and fixation on worst-case scenarios.
Should You Immediately Seek a New Job?
While financial constraints often necessitate an immediate job search, therapists advise setting boundaries to allow moments of self-care and reflection.
Dr. Patel-Dunn recommends incorporating activities like meditation, journaling or walks into the daily routine to maintain mental well-being amid the job search.
Emphasizing the transformative potential of a layoff, Dr. Lieberman encourages individuals to embrace the opportunity for self-reflection. Exploring hidden strengths can lead to new directions, even if time off isn’t feasible.
Caring for Your Mental Health During a Layoff: Expert Tips
After a job loss, according to experts, it is considered normal for individuals to go through various emotions, such as stress, anger, and uncertainty, including stress, anger, and uncertainty. Therapists provide practical tips for maintaining mental well-being during this challenging period:
- Take Time to Process:
- Adjusting to a new situation, whether expected or sudden, requires time. Avoid taking the layoff personally, recognizing that it is often linked to a company’s financial situation rather than individual performance.
- Lean on Your Support System:
- Inform friends and family promptly to receive emotional support. This ensures staying connected and having someone to check in with during the challenging period.
- Prioritize Self-Care:
- Engage in stress-management strategies, such as spending time with loved ones, increasing physical activity, taking walks, and practicing meditation.
- Stick to a Schedule:
- Maintaining a consistent daily schedule, including regular sleep patterns and balanced meals, helps provide structure and stability during the job search.
- Break Up the Job Search:
- Break it into smaller, manageable tasks rather than overwhelming yourself with the entire job search process. This approach fosters a sense of accomplishment as each task is completed.
When to Seek Mental Health Care:
- While feelings of sadness are normal, persistent loss of energy, motivation, isolation, or thoughts of self-harm may indicate depression. Seeking professional help is crucial in such cases.
Affordable mental health treatment resources, including sliding-scale therapists and public services, can be explored through insurance providers or platforms like FindTreatment.gov or the Mental Health Coalition’s Resource Library.
Prioritizing mental health during a layoff is essential for navigating this challenging period and fostering resilience for future endeavors.
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