Losing your job is emotionally challenging at the best of times. But with the added pressures of a recession and global pandemic to deal with, it’s completely understandable if you find yourself struggling with your mental health as a result.
Although we’re always striving for a better work/life balance, our jobs play a big part in our identity, and so its only natural that being made redundant can leave us doubting ourselves and our plans for the future.
If you’re struggling with your mental health as a result of being made redundant, it’s important to remember that it’s OK to feel down and worried about the future – but there are things you can do to help yourself cope in both the short and long term.
Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at the mental health charity Mind, shared her advice with Stylist. “Redundancy can affect our mental health,” she explains. “For many of us, our work is not just a vital source of income but also an important part of our identity, helping us feel we are making a useful contribution. It can also provide us with a sense of purpose, a routine, and a way to meet new people.”
Mamo says that, whether or not your job loss was expected or sudden, it’s normal to experience a wide variety of feelings – and it’s important to give yourself some time to adjust.
“You may feel a range of emotions – shock, anger, resentment, relief and much more – all in a short period of time,” she explains. “The current economic situation means that, unfortunately, redundancies are unavoidable – try to remember that being made redundant is nothing to be ashamed of; you are not to blame.”
Mamo continues: “Make sure you give yourself space and time to express these feelings and talk to other people about what you are experiencing – support is available.”
On top of dealing with these difficult emotions, you may find yourself dealing with feelings of low self-esteem – especially if your work is an important part of your identity. To tackle this, Mamo says the most important thing you can do is spend some time reflecting on what you want from your next chapter.
“If your job has always been a big part of your life, being out of work might have a big impact on your self-esteem and sense of identity, and you may wonder who you are without it,” she says. “It’s also likely you’ll be spending a lot more time at home than you usually would, and you may be unsure how to fill your time if you aren’t in a position to find another job.”
Mamo continues: “Remember to be kind to yourself, practise some self-care, and spend some time reflecting on what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Perhaps you could write a list of all the skills and qualities you have, and take a moment to celebrate them.
“Depending on your trade, now might not be the ideal time to find a new job, but keeping yourself focused and setting yourself challenges can help to improve your self-esteem for when the right tole comes up. You could also consider volunteering or learning a new skill.”
Finally, Mamo recommends, make sure to focus on the things that are in your control. At a time of such uncertainty, dealing with redundancy may leave you feeling lost and overwhelmed – but there are things you can do to help yourself feel a bit more grounded.
“When we’re struggling with our mental health it can be hard to manage our finances, and if we’re worried about money it can make our mental health worse. Creating a budget can be a good first step if you’re not sure where to start.”
For more information on how redundancy can affect your wellbeing, including how to look after your mental health when you’re worried about money, you can check out the Mind website.