Been Laid Off? How to Handle the Emotional Impact of Losing Your Job

14 Jul ‘22
4 min
Work performance
Annemarie Andre
Reviewed by psychologist Marina Pacini
A woman is holding a balloon, looks at it in a melancholic way.
Being laid off often feels like a bad breakup. Whether you saw it coming or it was totally unexpected, after the announcement, you’re sure to feel a range of emotions come to the surface, such as anger and surprise.


Losing your job can even have an impact on your mental health. During the Great Depression, a 3.4% increase in symptoms of depression was recorded across Europe as a result of job losses. In this article, you’ll learn how you can handle the emotional consequences of being laid off and how to get back on your feet!


Who does it hit the hardest?


Often, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at the company, how much you like your job, or how well you get on with your other colleagues.


The hardest hit are the employees who lack self-confidence and self-compassion. These are the most likely to become self-critical and question their abilities.


Self-confident employees find it easier to get back on their feet – they believe in themselves, which means they’re better at navigating difficult experiences.


We asked psychologist Marina Pacini to offer some tips and strategies for coping with the emotional impact of a layoff and getting back on your feet again:


1. Make space for your feelings


Even if you weren’t particularly happy anymore at the company, a sudden layoff can be really shocking and rip the ground right out from under you. The first step to managing your emotions is to acknowledge them and understand where they come from,” says Marina.


Let yourself feel your feelings, whether you do this by going for a walk, talking through your emotions with another person, or simply taking some time to sit and think.


“After giving your emotions some space, it’s time for self-care,” says Marina before continuing: “Self-care is your reward for working through your feelings and it helps you close off this period of emotion with a sense of control.”


2. Talk to your friends about it


Sharing your emotions will help you to process this chapter of your life and put it behind you. Layoffs just happen sometimes and they’re nothing to be ashamed of.


Even the most successful CEOs and managers have been laid off – including, for example, Apple founder Steve Jobs and VOGUE editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, who even described the experience as character building.


Don’t be afraid to ask people in your network for support, and talk to other people about your feelings. Who knows, this could even result in your next job opportunity.


3. Take time for yourself


Before you can recover from something, you first need to know what you’re recovering from.


“From a psychological perspective, a layoff is generally accompanied by feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt,” explains Marina. “What these have in common is a lack of self-confidence and self-compassion.”


So, take time to actively work on these things. If your financial situation allows, it’s advisable from a psychological perspective to wait a few weeks before getting a new job.


This will give you time to emotionally process the event, understand your needs and wants, and to organize your next steps.


4. Maintain a healthy routine


Ready to finally sleep till noon and eat pizza instead of a healthy lunch? Well, it might not be the best plan! People have a tendency to throw their whole routine out the window when they get laid off, but it’s not necessarily very helpful.


Because when you’ve been laid off, you’ve already lost certain other (healthy) functions of employment. According to academic Marie Jahoda, these are a way of structuring your time, a sense of purpose, social connections, status, and daily activities.


It will benefit your mental health if you maintain some of your healthy routines, like exercising, eating healthily, and keeping up with your social connections.


5. Get yourself organized


You’ve processed the initial shock, now what? After being laid off, there are a few positive steps you can take to get back on track.


“After an initial phase of acceptance and mourning, the most efficient move you can make is to get yourself organized,” says Marina. You can ask yourself the following questions: “What are my next steps? What am I looking for in my next job? Where can I start my job hunt?”


Update your resume and turn to your network: Your next professional opportunity is right around the corner!


Don’t hesitate to seek support during this difficult time by scheduling a consultation with one of our psychologists.