Workers in every industry are feeling the COVID-19 crunch. More than 30 million people have filed unemployment claims since March—almost a quarter of the American workforce. Regardless of whether you still have your job, employment changes can bring up difficult emotions. It’s important to be patient with yourself and preserve your mental health. Here are some helpful tips for coping during this difficult time.
How to cope with ‘layoff survivor’s guilt’ and get back to normal
“Survivor’s guilt” occurs when people survive something many others don’t. Survivors of life-threatening events often experience this, but researchers have also seen it in people kept after a round of layoffs. If you weren’t let go, you may experience thoughts like, “Why did they choose me?” You may even feel personally responsible for your co-workers losing their jobs. These thoughts can be confusing, but try to stay grounded and realistic.
Remember: it’s not about you.
It’s important to remember that your co-worker’s layoff wasn’t related to their performance. It also isn’t a sign of your value in relation to theirs. Layoffs are strictly business decisions that are out of your control, especially during COVID-19. You can feel empathy, but remember that feelings of personal responsibility or self-blame aren’t useful. Layoffs are about much more than one person.
It may also be a good time to take stock of where you’re at in your career trajectory. Is this the right job for you at this moment? If so, what kind of growth opportunities will these layoffs create for you, such as new projects, or managerial opportunities you didn’t have before the crisis? Try to find the silver lining in this situation and make the most of it.
Reach out for help.
You also don’t have to navigate these feelings by yourself. Talk therapy is a helpful resource in making sense of layoff survivor’s guilt. Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs, which offer counseling benefits. It may be worth reviewing your current benefits package to see if these resources are available. If not, don’t hesitate to reach out to close friends and family to help process your emotions.
Try to keep a healthy routine and lifestyle during this stressful time. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercise, water, and nutritious food. Also, get outdoors when you can. Remember that this crisis will pass, and your friends who lost their jobs will recover.
Preserving mental health during unemployment
If you’ve recently lost your job, it’s natural to feel your mind racing and switching into survival mode. Try to slow your thinking and focus on preserving your mental health. There are several strategies that can keep you centered during this challenging time.
Keep your cool.
It’s important to stay calm after a layoff. Avoid jumping into a frenzied job search. Focus on mindfulness and being in the moment. Go for a long walk or run in your neighborhood. Bake something delicious. Spend a weekend in the wilderness. Whatever you need to do to unplug and reset will help set you up for success.
Tend to your emotions.
Researchers have found that tending to your emotions after a layoff is more effective than jumping into job searching right away. You’ll have plenty of time to refresh your resume and reach out to LinkedIn contacts when you’re ready. Putting your emotions on the back burner and searching for a new job out of panic may not get you the results you’re looking for. Take time to process.
Again, it’s not about you.
Just like for those experiencing layoff survivor’s guilt, remember that this decision wasn’t about you. Your manager took many different factors into consideration. They don’t think any less of you or your contributions. Your job loss also doesn’t mean you have less value than your co-workers who kept their jobs. Their jobs may fill more urgent needs for the business’s survival right now, but that has no bearing on your value as a person. Take solace in knowing that this pandemic was out of your control and that you can rely on your experience to land another great position.
Trust the process.
After you’ve recharged and connected with your emotions, jump into the job hunt—with a healthy dose of patience and trust. COVID-19 is still affecting many businesses, and there are record numbers of unemployed workers. Remember that millions of people are in your exact position, and the best thing you can do is stay confident and persistent. You may experience rejection along the way, and that’s okay. Don’t lose sight of your value and worth as an employee, and trust that you’ll emerge from this layoff just fine.
How ZOOM+Care can help.
If you’ve recently lost your job, or you’re feeling layoff survivor’s guilt, ZOOM+Care can help. Set up a visit with one of our on-demand mental health specialists today. We also offer virtual visits through VideoCare™ if an in-person visit isn’t the best fit for you.
ZOOM+Care’s on-demand mental health specialists give great guidance and help you plug back into your life, giving you tools to feel better on your own. They can also help with medication management, and give counseling referrals if needed.