Losing your job, for any reason, can be as stressful as losing a loved one. Here you can find different ideas to get you through this challenging time.
Having a job is, for most people, more than just being able to provide for ourselves and our families. It is a key part of our identity. It is where we usually spend most of our time and it has a unique meaning for each person. A job is also the way in which we contribute to our community and wider society.
Our employment is a big part of our self-image and being satisfied with it, has a great impact on our self-esteem and well being. It is safe to say that losing our job is overwhelming and challenging, in a way similar to a relationship breakdown, or an illness.
I have lost my job: is it ok to feel like this?
No one wishes to be unemployed – unless it is our decision, in which case we would call it a “sabbatical” - but sometimes we have to go through this situation, without expecting it.
As with any loss, when we lose our jobs we may feel:
- Strong waves of feelings: anger, sadness, anxiety, fear
- Like your goals and/or plans are being frustrated
- Stress and depression symptoms
- Changes in our body: increased blood pressure, cholesterol, weight gain or loss, sleep disorders
- Lack or purpose: we have no place to go every day, it breaks our routine
- Lonely or socially disconnected: our work environment is a source of support and connection to others.
Why is it so different for some people?
Grieving after any loss differs from person to person. How big the impact of losing our job would be for us, will depend on different factors. For example:
- Our support network: Who do we have around us that could help?
- Our self-esteem: People with a healthy self-esteem and who value themselves beyond their occupation, may feel more in control and may bounce back faster
- The moment in our life: Are we young and living with our parents? Are we young and living by ourselves? Are we in a relationship with no children, with young children, with older children? Single, but have children or family to support? Are we of a mature age with savings? etc. Each of these situations will present a different challenge for us.
- What kind of job was it? First job, temporary job, part time and do we have other jobs as well?
- How satisfied were we with the job?
- Do we have savings or other sources of income to depend on?
What can we do?
In any of those cases, it might be useful to come up with a plan to help you build resilience and regain control over the situation. Here are some useful tips:
- If you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed, look for a mental health professional who can help you deal with your feelings. Talking to someone can be useful
- Maintain a routine: Get up at a certain time every day, exercise
- Accept support from friends and family: It doesn’t need to be money, you will be surprised how incredibly useful is to have someone to take the children to the playground, or preparing a meal for the family, or offering to walk your dog. Having help with the little routine tasks will give you time to focus and plan for your next steps
- Work with someone – A Counsellor, a therapist - this can help you identify your skills that can be useful in a new field, so you can expand your job search
- Network with professionals in your area: online tools and websites such as Linkedin are useful for this
- Spend time meeting new people: Taking up volunteer work or joining a community group will help
- Make a financial plan and prioritise: Be realistic and stick to your budget, and organise your income to include a small amount of “leisure pocket money”. Remember this situation will be temporary, but you need to be money-wise at the same time as being optimistic.
Remember you have the option to see the positive in every challenge. For example, during the time between jobs you can:
- Spend more time with whānau and friends
- Learn new skills – even up-skill in your field, increasing your chances in the job search
- See the opportunity to evaluate your life and re-focus
- Be open to change: you will emerge a different person after this experience
- Start a savings plan, if you don’t have one.
Resources and Support
This experience, although it can be distressful and challenging, is not unusual. You are not alone, there are different organisations you can connect with that can support you in different ways:
Skylight Counselling and Resources: Support for you and/or your family while you go through the process of leaving your job, being unemployed and finding another job.
Citizen Advice Bureau: A free service that helps people know and understand their rights and obligations and how to use the information to get the best outcomes and gives them the confidence and support they need to take action.
Work and Income: Access to different benefits you can apply for while looking for another job.
New Zealand Now: Once you have full residency, you and your family can access the reassurance of the public welfare system that provides comprehensive support in a range of situations.