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  • Dr. Bernadette P. Smith

How To Survive a Layoff


We all deal with setbacks and we all handle them differently. But many of us may not know exactly how to handle being laid off, how to speak to our families and friends about what we are going through, how to process the experience internally or how to deal with the inevitable uncertainty of what comes next.

One of the hardest things about being laid off is just not knowing what is going to happen next. While we can't see into the future, we do know there are some things that you can do in your present to help manage all of the complex thoughts, feelings, and emotions you may be experiencing.


Stay positive. This is easier said than done, but it's important to try and stay positive throughout the process. Remember that a layoff doesn't define you as a person or an employee. Focus on the positive things in your life and don't dwell on the negative; find ways to make yourself feel better about what has happened. Thought stopping and cognitive redirection are some great counseling techniques that can help with negative thoughts. It's okay to be upset about losing your job, but don't blame yourself for it happening or beat yourself up over what could've been done differently. Instead, remain accountable and proactive in your job search so that you're ready when another opportunity comes around. You may even decide that this time should be spent pursuing something new entirely!


Breath . Once you've taken a deep breath and calmed down, it's time to make a plan. What are your financial goals? What are your career goals? What are your plans for if/when you're laid off?


When creating these plans, it's important to be proactive rather than reactive. Don't wait for things to happen. If you notice your company is experiencing financial difficulties, reduced hours, pay cuts, or a hiring freeze, it may be wise to start making a plan just in case. Brush up your resume, update your LinkedIn, and talk in confidence to other trusted professionals about possible job opportunities.


Additionally, review your financial plan and goals. Reevaluate needs versus wants and desires, to assist in implementing an alternative financial plan if needed.


Seek Support. When you're going through this rough time, it's okay to let people know. You need help and support, so don't be afraid to ask for it. Letting others know that you're going through a difficult time will give them the opportunity to reach out and offer their help. They may not offer any advice or suggestions at first, but they'll most certainly be willing to listen.

It's important to note that you can set boundaries. For example, if you don't want to talk about being laid off and just want to enjoy the company of your family or friends, you could say, "I know you are asking because you care, but what I need right now is to not dwell on that and enjoy the company of people I love." It is also not uncommon for some people to prefer talking to their trusted licensed counselor, during times like this. Whatever you decide, the most important thing is that you don't bottle everything up.


Don't blame yourself. It is not uncommon for you to blame yourself for getting laid off, but this will not help you recover. Instead, take control of the situation by being proactive and setting goals around what YOU can control in this moment.


Remember, this experience doesn't define who you are or limits your potential.


Take Care of Yourself. During times of stress, it's important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.


This may sound obvious, but it's easy to forget when you're overwhelmed. Make sure you have enough energy by eating well and getting plenty of sleep each night. You'll feel more alert and better able to focus on tasks if you're getting enough rest and eating—and this is especially true during stressful periods like layoffs or other life disruptions.


Again, forgetting to eat during stressful times is common, so you may find it helpful to keep healthy snacks close by, drink smoothies, or set a reminder to eat.


This can be a very tough time, but remember, so long as you are not harming others, there is no right or wrong way to process the complex feelings and emotions that you are experiencing as a result of being laid off.


Aspen Counseling & Wellness is here to support you. We understand that life can be stressful, and we're here to help you manage life's concerns.


If you're ready to take the first step towards creating healing, balance andl wellness, contact Aspen Counseling & Wellness today.