How to Deal With Your Mental Health After a Layoff - Public Goods Blog

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How to Deal With Your Mental Health After a Layoff

A job loss can have a significant emotional impact, as it is an abrupt change to your life.

man and woman embracing in a room

In this coronavirus pandemic economy, many individuals are mourning layoffs or furloughs. Know you are not alone in experiencing intense emotions like stress or anxiety, and it is OK to be grieving now.

I spoke to Dr. Nina Vasan, MD, MBA, founder of Silicon Valley Executive Psychiatry and Chief Medical Officer of Real, an on-demand therapy platform.

At Stanford University School of Medicine, she is also the Executive Director of Brainstorm: The Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation, the world’s first academic lab dedicated to mental health innovation and entrepreneurship.

Based on a combination of research and her insight, here are six tips to cope with the emotional impact of a layoff:

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

man in a red shirt with the collar pulled up over his mouth

“It is normal, expected, and healthy to feel sad,” said Dr. Vasan. “Give yourself time to mourn your loss. Your feelings are valid.”

It is normal to be feeling intense emotions like sadness or disappointment. Do not downplay or push away your emotions. Recognizing what you are feeling will help you process everything.

2. Be Kind to Yourself

table with fabric, scissors, flowers, glue, ruler, paper slicer, hot glue gun, graph paper, pen

This new situation can be a sudden shock, and it may take some time for you to overcome your grief. In the meantime, try little things everyday that make you feel good.

“Be kind to yourself by finding small things that bring you joy,” Vasan suggested. “Enjoy a warm bath, lighting a candle with a soothing scent like lavender or sandalwood, drawing or painting a piece for your home, or building something with your hands.”

3. Take Care of Your Body

a pair of grey shoes

Dr. Vasan recommended staying fit and healthy during this phase.

“Exercise — especially cardio — is the easiest way to decrease anxiety and improve mood,” she said.

In this tough time, please be mindful of your physical health. While you may be tempted to use addictive substances like alcohol or drugs, they have harmful effects that can lead to long-term stress and unhappiness. Eat healthy and sleep well to achieve mental wellness.

4. Find Silver Linings

black woman in a green shirt smiling

At this challenging time, you naturally see the negative of losing your job, but try focusing on the positive.

Dr. Vasan said, “It’s OK to let yourself be sad for a bit, but flip things around and think about what you can do now that you wouldn’t have in your regular life. Reframe this as an opportunity to be creative, try new things, and add something rich to your life.”

If you are not working, think of all the passion projects you always wanted to do but did not have time for!

5. Practice Mindfulness

white woman in a gray tank top doing a yoga pose

You may be worried about the future, but stay in the present moment. Mindfulness refers to a psychological state of awareness. This practice has been proven to improve concentration, mental clarity, and emotional intelligence. Dr. Vasan recommended activities like mindful breathing exercises and journaling as it helps with staying in the present moment.

6. Tap Into Your Supportive Network

white woman in a yellow and white striped top talking on the phone

Support and empathy is very helpful in moving through this tough time.

“Talking to friends and family about what happened can relieve stress,” Vasan said. “Do not hesitate in reaching out to loved ones when you need help. If you are noticing stress and anxiety that will not go away, seek professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist.”.

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