The day after was worse for me:

For me, the day after being laid off was worse, emotionally, than the day I was laid off. How do I know? Well, I took someone’s advice, and I took notes about my feelings and experiences for a few days. Keeping notes, or a journal, is a good idea. But, do it in a journal you don’t normally use, this is a special journal to capture your journey and feelings about getting laid off.

What made that day harder? Here is an excerpt from my notes:

I can’t stop thinking about money, work, but mostly the great people I will miss. One of my sons is a bit nervous about money. I reassured him, as I had been doing myself, that we had many years of money saved up, but it was clear I was trying to convince myself, as well as him, not to worry. I went to a coffee shop that was having a sale, but was unable to enjoy the coffee or the moment.

Looking back, I think it’s funny I picked a coffee shop that was having a sale….and yet, that’s part of the advice I would give you. You’ll need to change your spending habits, most likely, so you may as well start right away.

What Advice is There for That First Day?

The Internet is filled with advice on what to do when you get laid off, not surprisingly. Here are 7 things I’d consider doing if I was you. I didn’t do them all, but that’s another story….

  1. File for Unemployment – this is pretty much the only thing I’d make sure I did today or the next, everything else is optional
  2. Find someone to do something with
  3. If you have documents you need to sign, start reading them (maybe find a lawyer)
  4. Read any other documents you got, but mostly look for important dates. This is no time to get too wrapped up in other details.
  5. If this job was how you got health insurance, figure out how long it continues, and look for information on COBRA from your company.
  6. Write down as many positive things about you and your last job as you can.
  7. Exercise. Lots of people let their health go at this point, but research is clear, exercise helps, in many ways.

Find Someone to Do Something With
I’d say this is the top advice on the internet, and the top advice I’d give. If you can, get out and do something with someone. Now, I’m newish to Portland, so I don’t know many people. So, I just went to a coffee shop and talked to a random person. It’s something I like doing, but even if you don’t, this might be a good day to try it. But, really, it’s best if you do something with someone you like, and who is a positive person in your life. One of the best things we can do for ourselves when we suffer a loss is to surround ourselves with positivity (check out Today’s Happy if you want).

Documents, Lots of Documents
Odds are, you got some documents the day you were laid off, or emails, or something. If you did not get a lay off letter, ask for one! You might need this for a lot of different reasons, including filing for unemployment compensation. Figure out what all the documents are. Find the ones with dates and required signatures. Those are the critical ones to pay attention to.

If there is a severance letter or other legal document you need to sign, you may as well look at it today. If you have the money, this might be a good time to have a lawyer look at anything you need to sign. I did, even though the company that laid me off is practiced in layoffs, and even though the document was pretty straight forward. He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but he did reassure me that I understood my rights correctly. Note: If you feel you’ve been discriminated against, you definitely want to talk to a lawyer sooner rather than later.

Health Insurance
If you live in the US, odds are good that you got your health insurance through this job. Don’t give up hope, though, there are things you can do to keep yourself insured.

First, it’s likely, though not always true, that you are insured through the end of the month. You and the company have likely paid for it through the end of the month, so you are probably covered that long. Hopefully you asked this question in the meeting/call where you were informed you no longer had a job. If not, now is a good time to reach out and ask HR. If you have documents, it’s probably in there too, so check.

There is an entire section on health insurance on Laid Off Better Off, you may want to check there for information. (note, if you are reading this in late 2018, there isn’t such a section yet, but will be.)

A good option might be moving to your spouse/partner’s insurance, though not always. Since you now have a change in circumstances, most of the time you can get added. This is one way your partner can support you, by asking their employer. But don’t sign up right away, check prices and coverage first.

Another option is COBRA.

Write Down Positive Things!
A really good piece of advice I got, and I’ve seen on the internet over and over, is to begin writing down positive things from your last job. This does two things:

  1. Positive thoughts are good for us in general, they literally rewire our brains to be more positive. They are especially important at a time like this.
  2. It’s a really good idea to have a list of things you accomplished and you did well on your last job. The more accomplishments you can list, the more stories you have to tell in job interviews later.

I recommend a positivity practice in general. But I especially recommend starting a routine of writing down 1-3 positive things about your work at your last job until you feel you have a nice, long, list.

I think every single person I talked to recommended that I exercise more/now. Here’s one of the reasons the Mayo Clinic suggests you exercise:

Exercise improves mood
Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.

You might not be ready to exercise from day one, but getting started makes it easier to keep it going…even a thirty minute walk is a good idea if you don’t normally exercise. I know I have gone on more, longer, walks these past few months than at any time in my life. And, they help.

So, that’s about it for day one. There are a lot of other suggestions, but mostly they can wait. Filing for Unemployment Compensation cannot wait. Making sure you have talked to any close relatives should probably not wait. And, that stack of paperwork at least needs a look at…..