Mental load of layoffs: How to keep calm & carry on

In 2022-23, many of the major businesses in the globe fired thousands of workers all at once. Google has declared that it will remove 12,000 jobs from its workforce in 2023. After Musk took over the social networking site, over 3700 workers—more than 50% of the workforce were let go. The quick delivery service platform Blinkit, formerly known as Grofers, let go more than 5% of its staff, or about 1600 people. Whether or not the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) officially proclaims a recession, tough times are already visible in the form of widespread job losses, rising rents, higher borrowing rates, and high costs. Numerous employees at top organisations are unsure of how their situation will be affected by the mass layoffs and what to do if they receive a pink slip. This causes multiple health-related issues, both in the body and the mind.

Being a psycho-social stressor, a sudden event like a layoff might even trigger an anxiety disorder, depression, or insomnia, while also making you restless, irritable, upset, and sometimes angry. It can also impact your sleep and diet, which can further worsen your mental health. Physical health problems like hypertension, gastro-intestinal issues, headaches & fatigue follow these soon. It can hugely impact relationships inside and outside the house and affect more people than just the one who has been laid-off. But you were probably aware of all the above. So let us get into the solution!

Yes, we understand what a big blow this might be. It can be shocking, or depressing. But this is definitely not your rock bottom (even though it might feel like that at the moment). Here are the first few things that you can do.

1. Maintain supportive relationships

Talk with friends and family and let important people in your life know what is going on. Accepting help and support from people who care about you and will listen to you can help a lot. You might think that you are shielding them from terrible things by not sharing your troubles with them, but keeping such a secret can be stressful and having support can be helpful in moving through this emotional time.

2. Take care of your body

Exercise is an important antidote for stress. Being mindful about your eating and sleeping are important in trying to keep yourself functioning as well as possible. Having a break from your daily routine (especially one that you did not want) can sometimes make you feel like you are going “crazy”. This feeling might be because of anxiety, despair and a lack of everyday goals. Thus, engaging your body in physical work can lead to your mind feeling focused. 

3. Nurture yourself

Do something everyday that helps you feel good. This is a time to be compassionate with yourself and to utilise stress reducing tools that help you to feel calm. Try taking a walk, taking a warm bath, talking with someone you trust, meditating, praying, listening to music or anything else that helps you to feel relaxed. Remember, this break is not going to last long for you. So make use of it to the fullest. 

4. Journal

Write down your ideas, thoughts and feelings. Writing can be a very useful way to vent negative feelings as well as clarify issues that you might be struggling with. Journaling, writing in letter form, even list making can help to keep your head clear. If you are someone who prefers a different outlet, you can try speaking into your phone’s speaker or making doodles about your feelings, emotions and thoughts. 

5. Keep a positive mental attitude

Be mindful of the signals you are sending to yourself. It’s crucial to recognise self-critical ideas when they arise (such as, “I’ll never have a good job again,” “I feel worthless,” etc.) and to tell yourself to stop thinking about them. These ideas are harmful and only serve to worsen our feelings. In fact, a lot of the time, the only thing we have any control over is how we respond to the things that happen to us. You should tell yourself “this too shall pass” and keep in mind that nothing remains the same. Have a positive attitude and focus on what you want rather than what you fear. Remind yourself, what would you tell your best friend if they were in the same situation? It is time you gave the same advice to yourself. 

6. Look for other jobs

As soon as you feel a little better, start looking for other jobs. Send cold-emails to HRs and ex-colleagues who might help you. Seek career counselling to up your game. Revise your resumes and update them. Dedicate an hour to 3 hours everyday for this task. Forget about it for the rest of your day to focus on fun things and improving your relationships with yourself and your loved ones. 

7. When to seek professional help

Following a layoff, it’s common to feel anxious, sad, have difficulties sleeping, and be unable to engage in things that you used to find enjoyable. It might be beneficial to be evaluated by a physician and/or mental health specialist if these feelings last for a prolonged period of time. Relationships can experience a lot of emotional strain as a result of layoffs, so it may be helpful to speak with a mental health expert about this as well. You can reach out to Sentier Minds to access mental health support. 

It might be very annoying for you to hear that “Every cloud has a silver lining” right now. Of course, no one might be able to understand what you are going through right now possibly. But if we stop to feel despair for a moment, maybe we can see other avenues in front of us that can lead to more satisfaction, better opportunities and happiness. Avenues that we had previously kept closed for ourselves because “I have a job”. Go on, explore them!

Sentier Mind provide student support program to educational enterprises for mental wellness of our young ones and Employee Assistance Program to Workplace. We have a team of Psychologist working with this population for over a decade. We help to provide the care that every individual deserve.

Written by Rima Chowdhury

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