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Coping With Job and Income Loss

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It’s not easy to lose a job or a source of income, regardless if it’s due to the pandemic or not. Aside from the obvious financial strain that unemployment brings, it can also affect your mood, relationships, and overall mental and emotional well-being.

Job loss is one of life’s most stressful experiences that many people face. If you are one of the many workers who have been laid off, forced to take early retirement, or reduced in working hours, it's okay to not feel okay. You may feel depressed or helpless during this challenging time. Feelings of uncertainty and anxiety are also uncommon.

However, you can get out of the unfortunate situation fast by developing a healthy mindset and a smart plan of action.

Here are some tips to help you cope with unemployment stress and regain control of your life:

Acknowledge your loss

Grief is a natural response to loss—Losing a job is something to be grievous about, especially if you’ve built your identity around it and dedicated many years of your life to it.

Aside from losing your source of income, job loss also brings with it many other kinds of losses, such as the loss of sense of purpose, sense of security, control over your life, professional identity, friendship and connections at work, and even your daily routine.

The unemployment may have come to you in a shock, or you may have felt “betrayed” by your employer by letting you go after many long years of service, but hey, s*** happens. The first step towards recovering from your negative state of mind is to acknowledge your unfortunate experience.

Allow yourself to grieve over your loss, but instead of mourning over it by drinking too much or bingeing on comfort food, choose the healthy way. Cry yourself out, vent out on social media (but avoid trash-talking your ex-company as it could ruin your professional image and hurt your future employment prospects), or talk about it with a confidante.

While emotional resilience differs from one person to another, it can be developed by consciously adopting a positive mindset.

Manage your stress

You know you’re sad, so what are you going to do about it? Once you acknowledge your loss, it becomes easier to “help” yourself by doing activities that will keep yourself busy and entertained. How about watching that Netflix series or doing that DIY woodworking project you’ve been meaning to start since the start of the year?

Now is also the time to prioritise self-care, practice mindfulness, and reduce stress in your daily life:

Get adequate sleep. You may have lost some good night’s sleep on the first week of unemployment and that’s okay, but the grief will eventually subside and once it does, you need to get adequate sleep to recharge your system. It will also help you feel less depressed. Without a job to structure your days, you have all the time in the world to sleep, but hey, don’t also overdo it. Sleeping too much can make you feel sluggish all day and can only worsen your depression.

Move those muscles. Regular exercise, whether it’s going to the gym or walking in the park or jogging around your neighbourhood or dancing in your room or doing gardening, helps you stay fit. Physical activities also release endorphins that will help you feel better.

Eat and drink well. You won’t have to skip breakfast to arrive at work on time or skip lunch just to finish a report, so there is no reason to do so. Eat regular meals, especially breakfast, and have lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Don’t forget to drink lots of water; You don’t have to binge-drink coffee now, too.

Feeling great already? Schedule job search activities and let the job hunt begin!

Manage your time

No longer bound to a nine-hour day at work, you have all the time in the world to do whatever you want to do. This, however, puts you at risk of addictive behaviours or wasting your time for nothing. To start getting things done, organise a daily schedule.

Make time to do the household chores and have fun with your family and friends. You have only lost a job, but you still have your life and your friends and family around and they need your time as well.

Sure, you can do the things you enjoy, but don’t forget that you still need to find a new stable source of income. Make your day productive by updating your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio on online job sites. Once done, start job searching and completing job applications.

While waiting for an interview invitation, attend workshops or learn a new skill that can enhance your professional credibility.

Pro Tip:

Check out what job skills are in-demand today and in the near future. Developing these skills will not only increase your prospects of landing a high-paying job, it will also make you a highly valued member of the company.

Be proactive in your job searches

While you’re unemployed, treat job hunting as your full-time job.

Do not limit your job searches and applications to online job sites. Also, spend time targeting various employers you would like to work for. Visit their websites for any job vacancies in the position you desire, send your resumé, and set up informational interviews.

Remember to follow up after a job interview, too.

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Budget carefully

Good money management will help you deal with the financial stress that’s related to loss of income. You may need to adjust your budget to avoid depleting your savings while you’re searching for a new job.

Prioritise your essential needs. Cut out subscription services that require monthly payments. Refrain from paying for luxury services while you’re unemployed. No Starbucks and fancy massage places for now.

Also, unemployment is not the time to succumb to drinking and other vices that need money to sustain. Without a source of income, you will run out of cash in no time if you just keep on spending without a care in the world.

Get a “side job”

Technically, it won’t be a side hustle or side gig because you don’t have a primary job, to begin with. But you get the idea. Common side hustles, like babysitting and bar work, can help you pay for your daily essential needs while actively looking for a new stable job.

If you have a knack for writing or a technical skill like coding or web design, you can also find many copywriting and digital marketing jobs that require your know-how and capabilities online.

Take the entrepreneurial leap

“When one door closes, another opens,” so goes the saying. Perhaps losing your job is the right time to reassess your career and finally consider starting that grocery store or plumbing business you’ve been meaning to do.

You can use your severance pay as capital for your business endeavour. If that is not enough, you can also take out a startup loan to get adequate funds.

Reach out to others

This period in your life highlights the importance of relationships. Use it to spend time with family and friends.

Don’t keep your problems to yourself. Share what you’re going through with others, not to seek pity but to have an emotional release. It will also let people know that you are looking for work, which can lead to job opportunities. It's nice to share, right?

If you feel alone, reach out to a crisis line. If you need financial assistance, ask your community centre about available resources.

Be optimistic and hopeful

No matter how big the life challenges that are thrown at you, they become manageable as long you believe in yourself and focus on your possibilities rather than your fears.

If, for instance, you were applying for a new job but got rejected, try to see what you can improve in your next interviews instead of drowning yourself in self-pity.

As you go about your day, don’t forget to laugh and have fun. Laughter reduces stress and attracts positive energy. Remember, nobody can bring a jobless but positive person down.

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