Laid Off? Here are 4 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health
Layoffs have become a more common reality due to COVID-19. Since mid-March, more than 60 million Americans have filed for unemployment. As devastating as it is, for some, however, it can still come as an unwelcome surprise when it happens.
Along with the initial shock often comes a flood of other feelings, from anxiety, anger and sadness, to shame, irritability and plummeting self-esteem. You may be wondering how you’ll make ends meet, what you should do next and what people will say. It’s important to understand that these feelings are common, and it’s completely normal to go through a period of grieving after being laid off.
But a layoff can actually open up space for a new opportunity you never would’ve found otherwise, prompting you to make a career change or start a business. To rebound and find your new path, it’s important to protect your mental health so you can begin thinking about your future—whatever it may hold. How? Here are four steps you can take.
1. Optimize your finances
Much of the stress you feel after a layoff comes from losing financial security. When our food, shelter, or safety is at risk, it sets off alarms in both our conscious and unconscious minds. Furthermore, you may not be ready to sacrifice your standard of living. With this in mind, it’s important to take proactive steps to ensure your needs will be met.
Run lean, reduce expenses
An important first step is to analyze your full financial picture. Review your accounts and take note of income and expenses. Decide which of your expenses can be reduced or eliminated and which are non-negotiable.
Many people have several monthly subscriptions that they hardly use, if at all. If you find you aren’t using something, cancel it. Food costs are another common money vacuum. Think about how you can reduce costs by meal planning and eating at home.
You want to get your expenses as low as possible so that the money you have during this time goes further.
Build your savings, however modest
Next, factor a savings plan into your budget, no matter how small. It can help you feel better as financial security is tied to higher confidence levels and a greater sense of overall wellbeing. Commit to growing your savings account by a specific amount each month, so you have more of a safety cushion.
Once you have a plan, stick to it! If you have a partner or children, you can get everyone on board with the plan so you can work together and hold each other accountable. Make it a game and turn it into a learning experience.
2. Connect with other professionals
Stay connected and network. During this time, many professionals can’t network in-person, so they are diving into online platforms like LinkedIn and even Facebook. Take advantage of the opportunity and jump in, too. Make a profile that shows off your skill set and work history and start making connections. You may be surprised at the opportunities you find, or that find you!
3. Realign and focus on the future
Being laid off can be a blessing in disguise. It can open a door you’ve always wondered about but were too busy to explore. Take some time to digest the situation and think about what you really want to do for future work.
It may help to spend some time doing activities that bring you joy—whatever helps you gain clarity. Keep your focus on constructive thinking. What do you want to do next? What are the steps to get there?
4. Get support
Losing a job is never easy, even under normal circumstances. And, recovering after a layoff can be easier said than done. The resources and interactive planning tools on Living Confidently provides you with knowledge that can help you reach a greater state of financial and emotional well-being. Also, explore some of the resources available to make the journey easier for you and your family, and how you can protect yourself and your loved ones now for the future.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for a helping hand. If you continue to struggle with your mental health, you may want to consider reaching out to a mental health professional or doctor as they can offer specialized help in recovery.
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