Note: This article first appeared in Grayson Magazine.
The current pandemic we are living through has taken a toll on people across the planet. Millions have lost their jobs, lost their business income or been furloughed with no indication of when they can return to work. While we share this struggle with many, looking across the globe doesn’t necessarily help lessen your own struggle day to day. The very obvious stress of being uncertain about how to pay bills and keep food on the table is one thing, but there is also the lesser seen stress on the inside that can take a heavy toll on our mental and emotional health as well as our closest relationships.
Jobs are often a big part of how we define ourselves and they influence how we see ourselves as well as the way others see us. HelpGuide authors Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Lawrence Robinson have noted our jobs tend to be so much more than just the way we make a living. Our workplaces often give a structure, purpose, and meaning to our lives and sometimes even a social outlet for community. Losing a "work family" can leave us feeling hurt, angry, or depressed. There is a painful loss that takes place and with that comes very real stages of grief to move through.
Time and healthy coping techniques, however, can help us to come to terms with where we are, reduce stress and anxiety, and move on with the next phase of your working life. Allow yourself time to move through this grieving process. It is a natural response to the loss of a job. Being out of work also comes with other major losses, some of which may be just as difficult to face: A feeling of control over your life, your professional identity, self-esteem and self-confidence, a daily routine, purposeful activity, friendships and a work-based social network.
While everyone grieves differently, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to mourn the loss of your job. It can be easy to turn to habits such as drinking too much or bingeing on junk food for comfort. But these will only provide fleeting relief and in the long-term will make you feel even worse. Acknowledging your feelings and challenging your negative thoughts will serve you best to help you deal with the loss and more easily move on.
Give yourself time to adjust. Grieving the loss of your job and adjusting to unemployment can take time. Go easy on yourself and don’t attempt to bottle up your feelings. If you allow yourself to feel what you feel, even the most unpleasant, negative feelings will pass.
Accept the reality of what has happened without permitting yourself to wallow in it. Rather than dwelling on the negative situation or the unfairness or how poorly it was handled, try to accept the situation. The sooner you do so, the sooner you can get on with the next phase of your life. Finally, try to avoid beating yourself up by criticizing or blaming yourself. It’s important to avoid putting yourself down. You’ll need your self-confidence to remain intact as you’re looking for a new job.
Bill Mory is a Texoma-based licensed therapist in private practice who is a strong community-building advocate and a provider of workplace training on a variety of topics. Andrea Mory is a human resources and management professional who has collaborated over the last 20 years with the private practice MoryTherapy to develop training and education programs related to behavioral health. Learn more at www.morytherapy.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Texoma Marketing and Media Group.