What do you do when you are suddenly, unexpectedly unemployed? Losing a job devastates you. Surviving the emotional fallout and taking practical steps towards regaining your equilibrium takes positive thought, organization, and work. One day I was informed that my employer was eliminating my position. I did not expect it and hadn’t thought about what I would have to do if I no longer had a job. I felt angry, hurt, and unappreciated as well as afraid of what the future would bring. Suddenly, a steady paycheck and health insurance were both gone. Figuring out how to move forward, took courage, and work.
You can’t help but take being let go personally, but, in many cases, like mine, the employer made a logical decision for the good of the business. It took me a while to admit it, but losing my job was less about me than about how my employer could best survive the current economic crisis. Putting yourself in the shoes of the business owner, look at the choices he or she had. While I did not agree with my employer’s plan of action, it helped me admit that I lost my job due to economic conditions and not anything I did wrong. Let yourself feel the loss, talk to others about how you are feeling, and go through the mourning period needed to begin to look ahead, but remind yourself of your worth. It helped me emotionally to think about the successes I had in this job, about the good reviews, promotions, and raises. Losing my job did not mean failure. It meant change.
I started with a notebook but progressed to a spreadsheet to take stock of my financial situation. First, you talk to human resources or the business owner about exactly how much more money you will receive, when your insurance will run out, and how much it will cost to maintain that insurance through Cobra. When I filed for unemployment insurance online, I had no problems, but many people do. Commit to working a certain amount of time every day towards resolving any difficulties but try to put that worry “on a shelf” the rest of the time. For budgeting purposes, you can get an idea of how much you will receive by going to Nolo.com. Check requirements for receiving food stamps. If you don’t already have a household budget, make one. I had to adjust some things; I was not spending as much on gasoline and car maintenance, but my household utilities went up. Trim any unnecessary expenses and look for sources of cash. Hopefully, you have savings, but many do not. I already had an eBay account, so I was able to sell things I no longer wanted. Look around the house and garage for items to market online or through local selling platforms like:
Every little bit helps, and you meant to declutter anyway. While I hope never to have to borrow money, I did talk to family members less affected by the crisis. Not everyone has this option, but knowing I have someone to turn to as a last resort has helped me worry less.
During the first week, I stayed up late, slept late, ate whatever I felt like, and rarely moved from the couch. I felt like a depressed slug. The temptation to sleep late and watch lots of television leads to poor physical and mental health. Lack of quality sleep, exercise, and regular healthy meals damages your body and makes you less able to deal with the emotional repercussions of losing a job. Once I realized that, I set up a routine and tried to stick to it. I went back to going to bed at the same time every night and setting the alarm. I divide my day into twohour chunks dedicated to financial and budgeting tasks, household and yard chores, job hunting, and education. Adding education keeps my brain engaged and helps me build self-confidence. Additional training can only help your job prospects, and there are free and low-cost courses available online.
In the evenings, after my “workday,” I continue to do what I usually would do after work. For me, that means art projects, some exercise, a little TV, and recreational reading. A full-day routine helps you sleep. There is nothing worse than staring at the ceiling at night because you are not tired enough to sleep.
As hard as this time is for everyone, the optimist in me tried to see what positive could come out of a tough situation. One of my daughters was struggling financially due to a pandemic related pay cut. Since she was telecommuting anyway, we joined households to improve our financial situations. We enjoy each other’s company. Are there projects you have time now for like learning to knit or reading the entire Harry Potter series. I have now read them twice. Taking care of yourself means setting worry aside to do things like this. Maybe this is the time to think about doing what you have always wanted to do. I decided to change my career direction. While I have always been a writer, I haven’t earned my income with those skills since a few years after college. With educational websites and freelancing websites, I am working towards a goal.
Losing my job was a shock. I have committed myself to get through it. You should take care of the business of paying bills and getting a new job but take care of yourself, too.