Laid off. Fired. Reduction in Force (RIF). Forced to resign. This one single act causes panic and fear for our financial well-being and how we are going to support ourselves and our family. As you are sorting everything out, take a deep breath. And if you’re laid off, do THIS first. Take care of yourself! Here are 10 ways to help you recover.
You’re Not Alone
I’ve been on both sides. In my 25 years of working in human resources and project management, there were “fortunately” only two times that I had to make this kind of call. The first was to move a “problem” employee to a better-suited position in another department. The second was to RIF a contract employee. Both broke my heart. It’s hands down one of the worst things that a manager has to do.
And then it happened to me. After being an overachiever and star employee, my health hit a crisis level, and my manager (illegally) rescinded my already approved FMLA and blocked any move to transfer out. I was basically forced to resign. I was making a comfortable 6-figure salary, and overnight, we lost half of our family’s income.
It was devastating.
It was devastating financially. I was too sick to work. How were we going to pay our bills?
It was devastating to my self-esteem. I felt like a complete failure.
Hitting rock bottom sucks.
The Experts Say…
The experts will tell you to update your resume, contact your network, start looking for jobs, tighten your budget, and maybe even go on unemployment.
Of course, you should do all of this. But there is one thing you may be forgetting about that the career experts don’t always discuss.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
Do This First!
Or at least at the same time as everything listed above.
You see, our body has what is called the autonomic nervous system which is divided between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. You are probably familiar with the term, “fight or flight.”
A significant stress event signals your sympathetic nervous system into fight or flight, which increases heart rate, causes shallow breathing, and inhibits your immune system (to name a few). This was helpful back in the day when we had to run from the saber-toothed tiger. But we live in modern times, and this kind of prolonged stress causes inflammation in your body, which helps to promote disease.
When you are laid off or lose your job, for whatever reason, this kind of stress is abundant. These are 10 activities you can do to help minimize the stress response, and pull your body back into the parasympathetic nervous system and normal functions. They will also help to change your mindset from the negative to the positive during a traumatic situation.
10 Activities to Help You Recover
Stop and breathe. Slow, deep breathing signals to your body that it is safe. There are several different breathing exercises to promote calm. The 4-7-8 breathing method is my favorite. Four-seconds deep breath in, seven-second pause, then eight-second exhale. When you are feeling the stress and the weight of the world on your shoulders, stop and breathe.
2. Meditate and/or Pray
Losing your job and being laid off feels like the foundation has been ripped from under you. It’s important now more than ever to feel grounded again. Find 10 minutes (or more!) every day to center and ground yourself. If you go to church or have a religious affiliation, make time every day to be quiet in prayer. If you enjoy meditating, do the same thing. Or hey… do both! I make it a practice every single morning to spend 10 minutes in meditation and 20 minutes in Bible study and prayer. It’s a beautiful way to begin my day.
3. Get Moving
Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. So get moving! Make time every day or as many days as you can to get outside and go for a walk and clear your head. Listen to some inspirational and uplifting music or a podcast, or just enjoy the quiet of the outdoors.
4. Be Creative
What is your hobby? What makes you happy? Carve out some extra time to be creative and enjoy the thing or things that really make you happy. Again, it’s all about clearing your head and opening up that space for creativity and new ideas.
5. Diffuse Essential Oils
This one may sound a little “woo woo” to some of you, but many enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. For times such as this, I enjoy diffusing essential oils such as ylang-ylang + clary sage or lime + clove. And don’t forget lavender at night to help you sleep!
6. Watch How You Speak to Yourself
Whether getting laid off is your fault or not, it’s so easy to beat yourself up about the situation and queue up the negative self-talk. Stop right there. Think about how you would speak to a baby, member of the clergy, or grandparent. It’s always in kind tones, and with respect, right? You deserve to speak to yourself the same way. You deserve to speak to yourself with respect and kindness. YOU ARE WORTHY.
7. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is the most perfect gift that you can give yourself. It’s a mindset and game-changer. It’s also scientifically proven that gratitude increases mental strength. I call this fortitude. Practicing gratitude puts your state of mind on a completely different level and helps you to really be present.
This one is hard. There’s the old Buddhist saying, “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” It’s especially difficult after losing your job. It’s easy to harbor resentment against yourself, your boss, your company, and even the situation. Forgiveness isn’t about letting that person off the hook, it’s about giving you space and freedom to move on. Betrayal hits to the core, and forgiveness is the key to your escape.
9. Learn Something New
This one is not just to learn something new, but also to take control of something. In times of trouble, when it feels like we are spinning out of control, it helps to grab onto something that you have some control over. Learning a new skill is just that. Whether it’s a work-related skill or learning to knit, it’s a great way to remind your brain that you’ve got this situation under control.
10. How is This a Gift?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2010. After a month of boo-hoo’s and woe-is-me’s, I felt a peace about the situation and knew deep down this was a gift. It was a peace that I needed. And a practice that I’ve carried with me ever since during the difficult times of life. Make a list of all of the reasons this situation is a gift. I know it’s hard. I know it is. But this shift in mindset in and of itself is a gift. Focus on the gift, and how this situation can be turned into something positive.
You’ve got this, my friend. You have confidence. You have fortitude. You have grit. I have faith in you. Now, go out there and turn this sh*t storm into something beautiful. Because you are worthy.
Are you Inspired?
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