Life was pretty normal. A good social life, a job that was bearable. And now, not only are you unable to leave the house and see friends, but you’ve just found out you’ve been made redundant.
How can you cope with pandemic and losing work?
1. Allow yourself to mourn.
Losing your job can be a disorientating change that affects your identity and sense of a future. And it is a serious mental concern — the NHS quotes a study which found one in five suicides globally is connected to unemployment.
Losing a job in the middle of a global pandemic when our future already feels uncertain can feel a blow when you are already down.
Being made redundant, if it’s a job you had for a long time, can also trigger the stages of grief (which some of are already in due to the pandemic). This can look like:
- denial (I’m fine, whatever, who cares, I hated that job anyway)
- anger (how dare they do this to me)
- bargaining (this isn’t fair, I refuse to care about anything until I get a job back)
- depression (I can’t do this, it’s hopeless)
- acceptance (I guess this is how it is is, something else will come along).
The trick is to realise it that you will run through all sorts of thoughts and emotions. It won’t be logic, or necessarily pretty, or easy. And that that is ok.
2. Don’t assume you know how others will react.
Part of the blow of losing your job can be feeling like you are letting those who depend on you down, if a partner relies on you economically, or you are supporting older parents or children.
Shame leads us to negative thought loops full of ‘cognitive distortions‘, thoughts that seem real to us at the time, but are not reality. And we end up making assumptions about how others will or won’t react.
Reach out to your loved ones and talk to them. Give them the chance to respond before assuming you know how they will. They might be more supportive than you think, or more able to help with short-term solutions than you realise.
If there is someone you are really sure won’t take it well, such as a still overbearing parent, talk to them when you are feeling calm, and stick to necessary facts. If it really feels too much for you at this time, there is nothing wrong with getting someone else to tell them.
3. Get help with options and practicals.
The hopelessness that losing our job can make us feel means we can assume we don’t have options.
Someone starts to tell us we might be eligible for government funding and we cut them off, convinced we aren’t. Right when we need to be open to possibilities, we shut down.
And when we are anxious and depressed things that should be easy can be a challenge. Our thinking gets foggy and we are tired. At the moment many of us are already feeling this way, given the world situation.
So it is essential to recognise it’s not the time to be proud and try to do everything by yourself. This is a period where we need to reach out and help each other.
Ask a partner, friend, or family member to help you investigate your options, such as current government assistance during Covid-19, and to help you with things like organising your budget to get your through and seeking other work possibilities.
4. Recognise who you are outside of your job.
Losing your job is a surefire way to learn if you have over-identified with it along.
None of us are just what we do for a living. We have relationships, interests, and values that also make us who we are.
And this time, pandemic works in your favour. It makes you realise what relationships matter. Who your real friends are. What you really want to do with your time. What actually interests you when all the distractions and obligations fall away.
And if you don’t like or aren’t sure of what you are discovering? If you aren’t the ambitious person you thought, if you don’t like the relationships you have?
See this as a time of reckoning to recognise what needs to change, and start focussing on what you do want and how you can get there (a counsellor or coach can be a great help here).
5. Help Others.
A large part of the anxiety and depression around being made redundant is not losing the job itself, but feeling useless.
You are not useless. You still have all the skills and resources you had when working, as well as others that you might not have yet recognised.
Using them to help others, such as by volunteering? Not only helps you stop feeling so useless, it is shown by research to lift moods. A study at Yale University School of Medicine found that, “helping behaviour seemed to buffer the negative effects of stress on well-being.”
Or better yet, find a volunteer job for one day a week. A meta-analysis of nine years worth of data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study found that we only need to work eight hours a week to have the same mental health benefits as someone who works five days.
6. Break through your comfort zone.
If we’ve been in a job long enough, it can be such a comfort zone that it’s been a long time since we’ve done anything that stretched our limits. And yet you are, not only in a pandemic that is stretching everyone’s comfort zone, but now jobless, another new experience.
Instead of panicking and numbing out on distractions, or trying to force your way back into your comfort zone, consider riding out the ‘new zone’ energy.
Try a hobby you haven’t before, like drawing or learning a language. Do something you know you will be bad at, like a livestream dance class.
The more we realise we can fail, and be bad at things, the more resilient we become. And the more we try new things, the braver we become and the more we learn about ourselves. All great things to foster when it comes to finding new work in the coming economic climate.
And at the very least you will remind yourself that despite tough times, there is still so much to learn and experience and be here for. You’ve got this. Keep going.
7. Recognise you are not alone.
Big life changes like being made redundant can leave us feeling different than others and alone. But this global crisis has led to many people being made redundant. If it helps, reach out to others going through similar, such as on forums and social media if you you don’t know anyone personally also made redundant.
Really want unbiased support or just someone who gets how stressed you are right now? Our roster of top London therapists are available by Skype. Or find an online talk therapist from across the UK on our booking platform.
Have your own tip for our readers about handling being made redundant in a world in meltdown? Use the comment box below.