By Everald Melbourne
The Caribbean Globe Financial Writer
Topic: Survive & Thrive
Move Ahead Financially After Losing Your Job
Mental & Emotional
It probably feels like you just got kicked in the gut. That might hurt—making it difficult to breathe? The problems you are facing are likely far more than just financial. You are almost certainly feeling major emotional stress and confusion, and that is just as important as money issues.
You are not alone. To start with, realize that feelings of depression, panic, self-doubt and helplessness are normal in your situation. The majority of people who are going through job loss have similar feelings. It’s absolutely natural. In fact, the grieving process you are going through right now is similar to that of a divorce or the death of a loved one.
Regrettably, there are no free provincial or territorial outplacement services that often include psychological counseling that will help you through this difficult time. However, there are ways to find help that won’t cost you a penny.
It is possible that your union may have general outplacement services that include professionals who you can speak with about your feelings.
Human Resources Department
If you are not in a union, consider getting in touch with your ex-company’s HR department to see if they have services that can help you.
Health Benefits at Work
If you had benefits at work, it is possible that you could still be covered for psychological counseling. In some cases, employers might extend these benefits for perhaps a month or more after an employee has left the company.
If none of the above is an option, consider setting up an appointment with your family physician. He or she should be able to assess your situation and refer you to a mental health specialist if needed. In most cases, those costs should be covered by your provincial or territorial health plan.
Letter of Termination
If you received a written termination offer, which is fairly standard for all white-collar jobs, read it to see if outplacement support is included. This is often done by an external firm that specializes in transitioning employees to a new job and often includes psychological counseling. If outplacement support is not included in the termination letter, ask that it be added.
How to Get Back on Your Feet
Remember that you are exactly the same person, with the same skills and experiences, as you were before this happened, and you are still valuable to another potential employer. Many very successful people have experienced major setbacks in their careers and have come back stronger by learning from their experiences.
The key is to try to keep yourself busy. Of course, you should spend a lot of time looking for a new job, but remember to seek balance in your life. Don’t just sit and watch television. Get out of the house and get active.
It is normal to withdraw from friends and family out of a sense of shame or embarrassment, but don’t ignore the importance of interacting with other people to relieve anxiety and self-doubt. Nothing is better at calming your nervous system than talking one-on-one with another person. Try to find a good listener, they don’t have to provide answers for you, all they have to do is listen. Most people will not see this as a burden. Many will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them.
Unemployment affects the whole family, so you shouldn’t try to keep it a secret from them. Now is the time to lean on those who love you, for support. Keep them in the loop about your job search and tell them how they can support you. Give them a chance to voice their concerns and offer suggestions about your employment search.
Exercising is a great way to keep yourself in shape and get your mind off things. Perhaps previous work commitments may have prevented you from getting regular exercise. Now is the time to focus on your physical health. Regular exercise is one of the best things to relieve stress. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. If that’s too much, start with 10 minutes. Even a brisk walk is better than sitting at home watching TV, because it forces you to focus on your body and how it feels rather than focusing on your thoughts.
Examine Your Diet
It is natural to let your eating habits slide and succumb to the call of junk food. What you eat has a significant effect on how much energy you have and how positive you feel.
Get Enough Sleep
Aim to get enough sleep each night, as a good night’s sleep has a huge influence on your mood and productivity the next day. This will help to keep your stress levels under control and maintain your focus for your job search.
Techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation can do wonders to reduce stress. They boost your feelings of serenity and joy and teach you how to stay calm and collected during stressful situations, including job interviews.
Volunteering at a non-profit organization can help foster a sense of value and purpose—and for many people, results in an overall mood boost. Remember that no matter what your situation, there are people much worse off than you and it is always good to give back.