It’s a well-known fact that job loss—whether it’s from layoffs, downsizing, or any other reason—is one of the top life stressors people experience. And saying, “it’s just business” doesn’t really apply. What we do for work is deeply emotional and centered in who we are as humans. When you lose a job, you also lose colleagues, friendships, dreams and often your identity.

Losing a job can—paradoxically—be a lot of hard work. Here are four basic things you can do to stay positive in the short term and position yourself for future success.

1 Rest

Losing a job feels like going from sixty…to zero. Making the transition to a reliable work routine to unscheduled time is a shock. Though the temptation is there to make finding a new job your full-time project, it’s important to balance that with good rest.

Sleep is often hard to get when you’re stressed. If there’s anything that keeps people up at night, it’s uncertainty. But it’s crucial to get good sleep. According to a report from Korn Ferry, sleep is understood as “biologically restorative," a time for replenishing the brain’s glycogen and other reparative, cleansing functions.

But rest isn’t just about sleep. Rest is also about refreshing yourself—body, mind and soul. Need a change of scenery? Book a trip to your happy place, wherever that may be. Been a while since you’ve seen some old friends? Give them a call and make plans. Make a point to engage in activities that help you feel good and get out of your head. 

2 Take care of yourself 

Grief after job loss is real. It’s vital to resist any impulse to minimize it. Taking adequate time to process your feelings is the first step to prioritizing your well-being. 

Look at it this way: you now have freedom to take self-care seriously. And that’s a necessity. According to a study from the Journal of Employment Counseling, "stress associated with job loss can have a host of negative effects on individuals that may hinder their ability to become re-employed."

Whether self-care for you means journaling, spending time on your hobbies, or just giving yourself space to think and breathe, it can provide you with much-needed positive feelings. Anything that builds human connection and promotes reflection will help you in the long run. 

And while you might be cost-conscious, think twice about cutting your gym membership or other fitness outlets. While it might seem like a game of hoops or a spin class is something you can do without, there’s decades of research on physical exercise as a proven stress reliever. 

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3 Consider more training and education 

Remember that while job loss is hard, the right perspective can really help. You didn’t choose this situation, but you can still use it to your own benefit. Now is the time to reflect on your current skills and experience. Are there any new tricks you’d like to learn? Skills you’ve meant to polish up? A degree program you’ve been putting off? 

Now is the time to take stock. Whether that’s formal education, an online course, or a professional certification is your call. Use this time to not just make yourself a more competitive candidate, but also meditate on what kind of work provides you with true purpose and fulfillment.  

4 Make a (wish)list 

Losing a job can leave you feeling disconnected. Try reframing the situation as an opportunity to pursue something truly meaningful. Now’s the time to explore companies and or industries that may not have been in existence since your last role and get more insight. 

To get started: 

  • Make a list of 30 organizations you’re curious about 
  • Check out reviews on GlassDoor or TrustPilot to gain more perspective 
  • Scour LinkedIn to see if you have any common connections within these organizations 
  • Set up time to chat or get coffee with people to talk more about their employee experience 

Moving from loss to opportunity 

Make no mistake—none of this is easy. New journeys never are. But there is freedom in your future and your past is behind you. It may take time to find what you want. Give yourself permission to be selective. Have patience to hold out for the right opportunity. Take care of yourself. Reflect. Rest. And know that the best is yet to come.  

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