Losing a job is primarily a professional setback but it can have a lasting impact on an individual’s mental and social wellbeing. For many people, a job is just a job. But for many others, it could be their life’s calling, their passion, providing them with a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
Losing it could very well leave them without a defined purpose and goal, impacting their happiness and health in the long run. Additionally, some feel like they have not only lost their identity but are also worried about their financial future.
Prakriti Poddar, Global Head, Mental Health and Wellbeing, RoundGlass, a wholistic wellbeing organisation, says it is important to note that losing a job can cause a sense of loss of identity, as well as financial difficulties compounded by uncertainty about the future.
The fear of being laid off can also create a negative work environment, causing employees to feel insecure, stressed and disengaged. In addition, employees who survive layoffs often experience increased workloads, decreased morale and motivation, and strained relationships with colleagues.
“Take time to process your feelings and be assured this is not the end of the world. While your layoff may impact your current level of confidence — and finances — it is in no way a commentary about you as an individual and a professional. In the long course of professional and personal lives, this is but a bump on the road.”
Ways to calm your anxiety
It can be difficult to focus or enjoy life when you’re feeling anxious.
Poddar, however, says wellbeing practices can help quiet a racing mind — both instantly and over the long term.
She suggests five quick ways to calm your mind:
1. Accept your feelings: Allow space to experience all the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Give yourself space to process your own feelings. Be gentle towards yourself.
2. Seek social connections: Speak to someone who can support you emotionally. This will help you process your feelings better and help you regain confidence.
3. Practice self-care: Here are some simple ways to practice self-care:
Repeat an affirmation: Repeating a few positive phrases to yourself during a stressful moment or before you start your day can help you reset, refocus, and celebrate life every day. You can try repeating the following phrases to ease your mind instantly: “I feel calm, safe and at peace”; “I believe in myself and my capabilities”; “My anxieties are melting away, leaving my body.”
Do a few rounds of box breathing: It is a deep, paced breathing exercise that can help you relax in stressful situations
Inhale to a count of 4
Hold your breath in for a count of 4
Exhale to a count of 4
Hold your breath out for a count of 4
Use the STOP method: The next time you are caught in a cycle of overthinking:
S: Stop whatever you are doing
T: Take a few deep breaths
O: Observe what’s happening within and around you
P: Proceed to feel more present and aware
4. Try a visualisation: Visualising nature is a powerful way to relax and clear your mind. Whenever your mind is clouded by worries, try this visualisation to feel more at peace almost instantly: “Imagine sitting by a stream. Place each thought on a leaf and let it float away.”
5. Scan your body: A body scan is a practice that trains your attention to focus on just one thing at a time. It helps you get out of your anxious mind and focus on the sensations of the body instead. All you have to do is to notice the sensations in your body, one area at a time.
How can employees survive the mental health effects of layoffs?
Poddar says incorporating simple wellbeing habits and practices into your daily routine can help you navigate these challenges with grace and enhance your wellbeing. You may benefit from following these simple tips:
Acknowledge and identify the setback and use it as a stepping stone towards growth. Listen to your inner voice, follow your courage, and act with conviction even when the going gets tough.
Build a routine: At a time when uncertainty is your biggest challenge, the dull predictability of a routine can be refreshingly reassuring and provide you with an emotional anchor. Set an intention for each day and maintain a routine as you followed at work. This will help you stay mentally engaged and keep your energies focused on figuring out your next steps.
Stay connected: As you go through this difficult phase, staying connected to people who matter and are close to you is crucial. Don’t shy away from leaning on them for emotional support.
Move and stay physically active: Mental and physical wellbeing go hand in hand. Stay active throughout the day – by exercising or doing chores – to reduce anxiety and maintain a positive outlook.
Eat healthy: You may want to binge on chocolates and ice cream to feel better but taking care of your physical health by eating mindfully will help you stay fit and mentally sharp.
Try meditation and mindfulness: Adopting and learning something new may sound overwhelming at such a time but these time-tested practices make you less reactive, and more resilient and will help you to bounce back.
Use this experience to get off autopilot mode and actively start drawing the roadmap to your next destination. Take a step back and look at the big picture to understand what worked and what didn’t. And how you can apply the learnings to secure and enhance your professional and financial wellbeing today and in future.