According to one frequently-cited health survey, job loss is one of the most stressful life events that a person experiences, and is a significant contributor to a potential health breakdown.
Maybe you saw the writing on the wall before a layoff. Usually, job loss comes unexpectedly with little warning. You show up for work one day, are summoned to the HR office, and before you know it, Security escorts you out the door carrying a box with your belongings.
Your feelings of shock, denial, anger, fear and grief are valid. Friends and family members will empathize but urge you to, “Go get another job.” These suggestions are well-meant, but not always very helpful.
That said, if you are among the three out of four Americans living paycheck to paycheck, sooner rather than later your family will need to replace your lost income. You will have to get a job.
Which means, you will have to quickly get through the grief cycle to Acceptance of your current reality.
This helped me:
1) Establish a schedule. Just because you are not working does not mean you are on vacation. Your full-time job is “job search.” Treat it as such. Go to bed at a decent hour, wake up early, get dressed, and get your day started.
2) Eat right and exercise. Avoid the temptation of stress-induced overeating — make a point to bring home more vegetables and fruits and fewer cookies and cupcakes. Cook at home more often; why not try out a new recipe? Maybe now is the time to train for that half-marathon, or to finally use that exercise DVD you bought last year (or found for free from the library). Take care of yourself.
3) Devote time to hobbies. Find something that you enjoy and can occupy your mind. Finish that book(s) sitting next to your bed, or write the one you always wanted to. Dust off the guitar in the closet, or spend more time in your garden. CAUTION: Remember that while you cannot do it 24/7, your current full-time job is job search. I do not recommend as a goal that you catch up with all seven seasons of your favorite TV show on DVD.
4) Volunteer. Find something that you are passionate about (pets, children, the poor, the environment, your faith, whatever), and go do it. It gives you a reason to leave the house. It allows you to experience accomplishments, which helps rebuild your confidence during a depressing time. And it just feels good to give back to society.
More practically, Volunteering occupies your time and provides an answer to the question, “What have you been doing since your last job?” It can give you additional skills and accomplishments to include on a resume. And, volunteering is an excellent way to broaden your personal network.
Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.