5 Tips To Take Care Of Your Mental Health After Being Laid Off

As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever. Unfortunately, losing a job by being laid off, let go, or deciding that the role is no longer a good fit for you can leave you feeling down and likely confused about what your next step will be. Especially now that inflation is on the rise and a recession is looming, layoffs in the workplace are a concern that many people have at the moment. Knowing what to do to protect your mental health after being laid off is extremely important because implementing healthy habits from the start can help you bounce back and start your new professional chapter with gusto. 

Losing a job is a difficult emotional experience, particularly since we spend so much of the week in the workspace and often have connections with colleagues. Job loss comes with grief, which is a completely normal emotion to feel. The way you respond to the grief of job loss can either protect your mental health or make you more susceptible to further stress and strain on your mental well-being. In the immediate aftermath of being laid off, constructing a routine and committing to activities that get you out of the house, socializing with others, and encouraging you to physically move for a change of scenery and the benefits of exercise can set up a foundation for protecting your mental health.Here's how you can protect your mental health after being laid off.

Take care of your body

At all times, taking care of your well-being is something that should be at the top of your priorities, but ensuring that the needs of your body, mind and emotional health are being met is especially imperative during times of stress and change. If you've recently been laid off, you may need a bit of time to cry it out over a Netflix binge and ice cream, but don't allow those indulgences to become habits. 

Ohio State University Extension states that during times of immense stress, or if you're experiencing low-to-mid levels of chronic stress, one of the best things you can do to take care of yourself is to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. After you've been laid off, make a trip to the grocery store and ensure that your refrigerator is stocked with whole grains, plant proteins like seeds and nuts, lean meats, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Remember that everything you put into your body nourishes your brain, so the foods you eat can directly affect hormones, brain health, and neurosomatic functions. When you eat well, particularly first thing in the morning, you'll feel better and you will be better able to tackle tasks throughout the day. When you begin your new job search and interview with potential employers, the essential nutrients and vitamins that fruits, vegetables, and plant proteins provide will give you a boost of balanced energy to put your best foot forward.

Don't internalize the situation

Refraining from internalizing or personalizing job loss is usually far more easily said than done, but it's a key aspect of taking care of your mental health after you've been laid off. As your routine changes and you find yourself in the midst of significant change, trying to find stability and rationalize what has happened is a natural reaction. However, blaming yourself or dwelling on the negative aspects of being laid off can take a toll on your mental health and increase your risk of getting sucked into an unhealthy spiral of rumination and perseveration. A 2013 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that internalizing behaviors, like when a person absorbs blame or fault for a situation without offering themselves self-compassion, can lead to isolation, loneliness, sleep disruptions, anger, insecurity, and difficulties with interpersonal interactions. The biggest detriment caused by internalization is damaged self-esteem, which can prevent a person from bouncing back after difficult or stressful situations and hold them back from moving forward with new opportunities.

To combat the internalization of being laid off, find ways to remind yourself that matters of business aren't necessarily personal. As it's said, business is business. Especially when you're feeling sad, it's easy to personalize a situation and concoct a false narrative about what occurred. Instead of drawing conclusions that make you feel even worse, remind yourself that only you can define yourself and find ways to remain rooted in your own power and self-esteem.

Practice mindfulness and affirming habits

To support you in refraining from internalizing and personalizing being laid off, and to help protect your mental health during this time, there are several proven habits that you can weave into your daily routine to keep your head held high and your confidence uplifted. With a fridge stocked with healthy food choices to keep your body nourished, the next step is to nourish your emotional, mental, and psychological well-being. Mindfulness is a trendy word in the wellness world, but understanding what it is can lead to tremendous positive benefits when you're going through a difficult time. Mindfulness emphasizes getting to know your inner voice and eliminating extraneous thoughts that keep your mind full of emotional and mental processes that can inhibit your well-being. The focus on diffusing a mind full of conflicting thoughts is perhaps counterintuitive to the term itself, though cultivating a clear mind through mindfulness techniques can lead to decreased stress, anxiety, and depression, and provide positive benefits including increased self-esteem, confidence, and even better outcomes when it comes to physical health.

A 2001 study published in Anxiety, Stress, and Coping determined that people who practiced reaffirming habits after being laid off were better able to protect their self-integrity, personal identity, and self-esteem. Try practicing mindfulness techniques like deep breathing and repeating empowering affirmations to yourself when you feel down or stressed. Yoga, meditation, and journaling are other mindfulness habits that can keep you grounded and focused on your strengths.

Lean on your support system

Whether you just want to vent, need advice, or could use someone to remind you of your amazing talents, leaning on your support system is one of the best things you can do for your mental health after being laid off because you'll be reassured that you aren't alone at a time when things can feel overwhelming. Support systems can include friends, family members, neighbors, mentors, and clinicians. After being laid off, reaching out to your support system and letting them know about your experience can provide you with a community to ease the emotional fallout of job loss. Your support system can check in on you to make certain that you're taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, including eating well and staying active, and they can hold you accountable in committing to the positive affirmations and mindfulness habits you find helpful as you plan your next professional chapter. If you find that you're experiencing symptoms of depression, grief, or other difficult emotional responses to the loss of your job, reaching out to a trained mental health counselor or therapist is highly recommended.

Since loneliness and isolation frequently occur after a job loss, having support can prevent these negative occurrences and instead keep your focus on positively encouraging yourself rather than internalizing, personalizing, and criticizing yourself. Being laid off can make you feel vulnerable and insecure, but having a support system can remind you that others are rooting for you and things will work out.

Focus on fun and exciting opportunities

Through a combination of reaffirming habits, healthy eating, exercise, and supportive loved ones, looking toward your next professional chapter should feel exciting and obtainable. This isn't to say that the experience of being laid off is easy just because these pillars of support are in place, but having grounding habits and a support system around you can encourage you to seek out new opportunities that make you feel energized and inspired. 

Job loss comes with grief, which you should allow yourself to experience, as well as space for new endeavors. Having something to be excited about and look forward to can protect your mental health by keeping you from falling into a cycle of dwelling on your loss. Instead of lamenting the job you've lost, this is the time to explore the possibility of a new career, applying for your dream position, or trying things you've always aspired to take on. Protecting your mental health following job loss depends largely on how you respond to being laid off or let go, and focusing on a mindset of excitement instead of dread when thinking about the future can set you up for success moving forward. Reframing the situation is a useful tool to put a positive spin on things, so use this experience as a time to try a new hobby like painting, photography, or learning how to code. You may even make new social connections or find a new career path in the process.