The loss of a job is one of the most difficult challenges we can experience and impacts all aspects of our lives. Whatever the circumstances of our job loss, we may feel shocked and blame ourselves or others.


This is one major life challenge we can least afford to let break us. It comes with an imperative to pick ourselves up, get back in the saddle and start all over again. But it isn’t that easy. We need time to absorb what has happened. What can we do to keep perspective and get back some control?


Acknowledge feelings

Many feelings go with the loss of a job—grief, shock, hurt, anger, shame, humiliation, depression, powerlessness and fears about the future. We don’t have to understand our feelings, instead, we should acknowledge and experience them without fear or judgement. This helps “digest” the loss and move on with life. Beware of self-pity or engaging in destructive behaviours that in the short term might seem to help us get by. These behaviours can become ways to make us feel worse.


Don't take it personally

One of the most difficult challenges is to not take job loss personally. Job loss can happen to any of us and may be driven by circumstances beyond our control such as economic realities, office politics or pandemics. It helps if we can accept the uncertainty of life and focus on the things we can control. If your company has given an explanation that seems to stack up to about why your role has ended, let yourself accept that. Don't spend time suspecting other, more targeted messages about you.


Reach out to others, network and skill up

After the loss of a job, we may want to withdraw out of shame or embarrassment. And yet, good company of others helps us to express our fears and feelings, get perspective and new opportunities might come our way. Spend time doing some online courses to refresh your skills. Even if they repeat things you know, they will reassure you that your skillset is sound and contemporary. When applying for jobs you want to tell a productive story about your job search period.


Routine, structure and self-care

A regular daily routine and structure can help us to feel productive and prevent boredom and depression. Get up at the same time each day and set priorities and goals for your job search along with time for exercise, rest and networking. Being unemployed is no reason to let our health go to rack and ruin. Exercise, diet, sleep and relaxation have a huge effect on our energy levels and mood. It is easier to preserve our self-confidence when we are in good physical shape. It also makes us more mentally alert and feels more in control of ourselves and our situation.

Job loss is challenging, support from your friendship and family network can help you get through the experience. You can also consider a career coach to talk through professional options, and an experienced counsellor to help with motivation, optimism, focus and resilience.


This article was originally written by Elisabeth Shaw, CEO of Relationships Australia NSW.

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