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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Coping with a Job Loss

So many people who never thought they would lose their jobs are now unemployed due to the worst economic downturn since the Depression. Through no fault of their own, they find themselves out or work and, often, out of luck.

If this has happened to you, I'm sure I don't need to tell you how devastating this can be to you and your family. I don't want to paint a picture of all doom and gloom. There are people who are finding jobs. Maybe it's taking them longer and maybe they're not earning as much as before, but it's not a hopeless situation. But until you get back on your feet, what can you do to sustain yourself emotionally?

Coping with a Job Loss
Stay connected to your emotional support system:
One of the most important things that you can do is to stay connected to your support system. Don't isolate. This is the time when you need family, friends, and your therapist more than ever. Many people who are laid off from their jobs feel ashamed--even if, rationally, they know that they were laid off through no fault of their own. For many people, their identity is tied to their jobs. So, if they don't have a job, they feel worthless. This is an important topic and it deserves its own post, but I won't digress further. Suffice it to say, a job loss can be a tremendous blow to a person's self esteem.

Stay connected to your career network:
It is a well-known fact that one of the best ways to find a job is not through conventional sources (e.g., newspaper, online), but through your career network. So, maintain contact with your former supervisors and coworkers from your last job and your prior jobs and professional organizations in your field. Most likely, if there are job openings in your field, they'll know about it before it's advertised, if it's advertised at all. Often, they can give you the inside scoop on the details of the job, the supervisor and the work environment. This can give you a huge advantage over other prospective job applicants.

Maintain a structured schedule:
After you've taken some time to recovery from the shock of losing your job, set up a structured schedule for yourself. If you take time off for a brief vacation to regroup, make sure that you get back into a routine for the job hunt. Sleeping until Noon or writing cover letters at 3 AM is not healthy for you in the long run. Looking for a job is a job unto itself, so to be at your best, you need to take care of yourself. That means proper rest, eating nutritious meals, and maintaining an exercise regime that is appropriate for you.

Volunteer your services:
If you find that you have a lot of time on your hands, you might consider doing volunteer work. Even though you won't be earning any money, doing volunteer work can help to take your mind off your problems for a little while, and it also helps you to feel useful and valued. It's also a way to get out and meet new people. You might also get to try out a new field of work that you've been considering but never had the opportunity to explore. Sometimes, if you're lucky, the organization might hire you if a job opens up.

Seek professional help:
If you find yourself spiraling down into depression, seek the help of a licensed psychotherapist. You might only need brief treatment to get you back to your old self, and it can help to prevent you from developing a long, drawn out depressive episode just at the time when you need to be at your best.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

To find out more about me, please visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

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