5 Emotional Survival Tips After Getting Laid Off

Mike’s Story:

I know that for me, keeping busy doing something was very helpful. I felt bad about myself and my situation when I sat around, and watched tv, or just sat there. Going for a walk, talking to random strangers at the coffee place, working out, making dinner….all these and more made me feel good again. So, keep busy at least part of the day. And get out of bed before 9, or 8…..and feel productive somehow.

1. Don’t Play the Blame Game

It’s easy to blame yourself in this situation. I started asking all kinds of questions about my work product, whether or not people liked me, did my move to Portland hurt me, and more. A lot of people I’ve talked to start with blaming themselves for something. But, the stories (when you talk to companies) and data are clear. Layoffs aren’t really about the individual, they are about the company. Maybe it merged with another company, and there are duplicate positions. Maybe the company wants to cut costs. Who knows the real reasons? What we do know from years of data is that it most likely had nothing to do with your performance or personality or whatever else you may think about yourself right now. It’s about the company.

It’s also easy to blame your boss, or HR, or some random VP. Sure, anything is possible, but again, most of these people didn’t make the decision to lay people off. They’re just doing their jobs as best they can. Anger is acceptable, but make it anger about the situation, not the people, if possible. Publicly blaming HR or your boss will make it harder to get back into the company, if you want, or to get a recommendation.

When I got laid off, it turns out that more than 1000 others lost their job that day. It wasn’t about me, it was about the company.

2. Grieve Your Loss

Make no mistake, for the vast majority of people, losing your job is an emotional event. I was certain I did not have my ego/life defined by my job. Then, I got laid off. Turns out more of my life was defined by my work than I thought. Losing that identity, those friends, that sense of being important to something…..those are all real losses that affected me more than I thought they would. There is a lot of good advice for handling your grief on the internet. This is a great article.

3. Exercise

Exercise is a great tool for managing stress. Plus, a lot of people stop exercising when they get laid off, which is too bad. They get depressed, or otherwise unmotivated. This is one time to get motivated. Even a thirty minute walk is great at this stage. But, if you have a gym membership, this is the perfect time to go. You have time, and you get out of the house, and you might talk to people. Oh, and exercise is very good for your body and your mind at times like this.

4. Talk to Friends

Research is very clear, those of us that spend time with friends, even just talking to them, live happier, longer, lives. I know that when I finally started reaching out to friends, that most of them were supportive, and helpful. Even those that just listened to me talk, and didn’t ask hard questions were helpful. Humans, even introverts, need support from other humans. Now is a good time for you to use your support system.

5. Find Positivity in the World

Watch your favorite “cheer me up” videos on YouTube or wherever you listen to music. Talk to positive friends. Watch your favorite comedy. Think about how positivity and negativity are like a feedback loop….

It made me nervous when people asked me how I’d pay the bills or how I’d spend my time. I felt angry when I talked to a friend who had also been caught in the same layoff as me. We started to have a very negative conversation, feeding off of each other’s frustrations and fears.

On the other hand, when I reached out to positive people, especially friends that I knew had been through this before, the conversations turned into positive experiences. I felt more motivated to workout, or cook, or look for work. Everything about my mood was different. It also helped that I went to the wine bar I enjoyed (in the days immediately after the layoff), and talked to people about stuff that wasn’t work related, just fun stuff.

And, that continues today. My energy waxes and wanes partly based on who I surround myself with, or what tv show I watch, or what music I listen to. It’s the reason Laid Off Better Off has a positivity section, called Today’s Happy.

That’s just some simple (in concept, not always simple to actually do) advice I have received in the last few months, and given to others. I hope it helps.

About the Author:

Mike Sixel is the founder of Laid Off Better Off. Based in Portland, OR, he has first-hand experience in being unexpectedly laid off. He's made it his mission to provide support, resources and advice to others who are out of work.

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