Your mental health does not have to pay if you are laid off
By David Grauwiler
The impacts of job loss are far more than just a matter of lost income. For many people job loss generates anxiety and uncertainty that can impact their mental health.
When laid off, feelings of frustration, worry, anxiety, anger, and grief are normal. It is easy to become consumed with the important work of finding work. While doing this, investing in your mental health will pay off because when you do find work, you will be more resilient and stronger.
The good news is that we can take steps to help maintain balance and move forward. Keep in mind that job loss during an economic downturn is part of the changing employment landscape, not a reflection of your work or worth.
Take positive action early as this will reduce anxiety and create hope
Here are some things you will need to do soon:
- Sign up for employment insurance. If you are in the US, you can click here to find the Unemployment Insurance office for your state. If you are in Canada, as soon as you have your record of employment (ROE) you should contact Service Canada. See this as your first step of self-care.
- Review your finances and your budget. It is tempting to set this important work aside. However, for your own peace of mind, help yourself by looking realistically at your budget and seeing where you can make changes. If you need help with consolidating your finances, you can contact an organization like Money Mentors or Consumer Credit.com for support. If you don’t have a severance package, aren’t eligible for Unemployment Insurance and have no other resources, such as family support, investments or savings, you can apply for Income Support through Service Canada or through the US Welfare system.
- Prepare your resume and prepare yourself. Gather reference letters, work with someone to refresh your resume and focus on the job you want, not the one you lost.
While you are looking for work
- Focus on supportive and healthy relationships. You have some time to reconnect with those who mean the most to you. Connect with caring and supportive people. While looking for work can be challenging you don’t have to do it alone.
- Get moving and take action. While you are unemployed take time to go outside, exercise and enjoy physical activity. It is good for your body and your brain to get moving and connect with your community. Connect with helpful people, access government programs and network with others in your profession. Using online job listings and social media resources such as LinkedIn can augment your reach in the job market.
- Take care of yourself. Let yourself feel sadness, anger, or whatever you need to feel. Besides exercise try to think of a variety of ways you can be good to yourself. Take time each day to reflect on the good things in your life and focus your energy toward your most important relationships. Eat good food, get the rest you need and don’t be hard on yourself.
- Beware of negative self-talk. It will be tempting to fall into a pattern of blame and shame. Remember you did not have control over someone else’s decision to lay you off. You do have control over your approach to your future. Try and maintain a hopeful outlook and if despair comes front-of-mind talk with someone about it.
- Reach out for help. Feeling tense and sad and not being able to sleep well are normal after a layoff. If they are persistent consider speaking to your doctor or a mental health professional to get their opinion.
- If you are still in the process of getting laid off, see this article What to Do if You Are Laid Off by the US News.
Many communities offer walk-in counselling at low or no cost. In the US, contact MentalHealth.gov. In Canada, you can contact your local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association if you need help. www.mymentalhealth.ca offers resource listings to help you maintain your mental health.
Tips for supporting a loved one experiencing a job loss
- Ask your loved one what they need, and regularly remind them that you’re there for support.
- Talk about the layoff. It’s common to want to avoid the topic, but it is healthy to discuss it, however don’t make it all consuming. Remember to set aside regular time with your loved one that doesn’t involve discussions about their layoff.
- Include your loved one in social activities. Even if they often decline, it’s important to show that they are still an important member of your community.
- Help your loved one connect with support services if they experience a lot of difficulties.
- Take care of your own well-being and seek extra help for yourself if you need it.
- If suicide is a possibility,call 911
- In the US you can locate a Mental Health Hotline by clicking here. In Canada, The Kids Help Phone is for youth and teens and you can locate an adult crisis line through Suicide Prevention.ca.
Originally published on Linkedin by: David Grauwiler, Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association – Alberta Division
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Photo credit: James Lee