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How to stay sane in the midst of widespread layoffs

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Laid off or laid back? You decide.

How to Stay Sane in the Midst of Massive Layoffs

With the economy looking like it's in perpetual Mercury retrograde, the world of massive layoffs has unfortunately become an all too familiar reality for many of us. The truth is, losing a job can be a blow to your self-esteem and your mental health. Whether you’ve recently been let go or you're bracing for impact, you might be wondering how you're going to keep your head from exploding. Take a deep breath because I've got your back! Here are some tips on how to keep your sanity during massive layoffs.

Ride The Emotional Rollercoaster

First things first– let's talk about feelings. Layoffs can leave even the most secure person feeling defeated, anxious, or even strangely relieved. It's a time that can also bring up insecurities that employment soothed. When I was laid off early in the pandemic, I was more scared than I had ever felt confident. I realized my fears encompassed a long history of insecurity with something that had zero to do with being laid off and was the very reason I was hired: my abilities. That revelation was transformative. So, take a moment to acknowledge whatever you're feeling and be curious about they're not so obvious origins.

To support his clients after a job loss, psychologist Adam Benson says it's helpful to “point out that they are actually going through a loss, and once they realize this, they can be more compassionate with themselves." Naming your emotions also allows you to process them - whether it's screaming into the pillow (or the void), crying to a curated playlist, cutting your bangs, or journaling. Remember, all your feelings are valid and bangs grow out.

Reach Out To Your Support System

Feeling the temptation to go into hermit mode is normal. We're used to presenting only the best versions of our lives. But one of the most crucial things you can do for yourself during this time is to reach out for support. With 40% of Americans having experienced a job loss in their lives, there's a good chance someone you know has lived to tell the tale. Talking to friends and family or seeking counseling are all solid ways to stay sane and keep things in perspective.

If you're worried about keeping the relationships you've built at work, reaching out to colleagues who have shared your experience is a great way to receive and share support. You're not alone in this - letting people in strengthens your resolve, network, and relationships.

Stay Active

One of the last things on your mind might be upping physical activity, especially if you're no longer being paid to move. My rousing endorsement for doing it for free? Stress without movement is a recipe for depression. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, regular exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in those who have been laid off.

A good diet, regular sleep, and moderate exercise not only help you feel better physically but have a positive impact on your mental health. Now has never been a more beneficial time to keep it moving!

Adopt A Routine

One of the better lessons of the pandemic was the importance of routine to battle days blurring into one another. When you're no longer working every day, that phenomenon is not far behind. That's why it's important to create a routine for yourself now that won't make going back to work a shock to the system. This might look like setting a schedule for finding a new job, making time for exercise and self-care, and setting aside time for hobbies you've been meaning to get started or get back to.

Stay Positive

It sounds cliche, but it’s important to stay optimistic. While silver linings are a matter of perspective, they're mostly found in hindsight. Remember, this could be an opportunity for growth and change. Maybe you'll find a new career path that inspires more passion, or maybe you'll find you agree with Bertrand Russell: "To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."

Massive layoffs can be incredibly stressful and destabilizing. But by feeling your feelings, reaching out for support, staying physically active, adopting a routine, and staying optimistic, you can get through the worst and come out stronger. Let's support each other! If you know someone who's been laid off, reach out and offer a kind word or gesture. It can make all the difference.

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