Coping with the mental stress of losing a job

Resources: When and where to turn for help

COVID-19 is creating a lot of fear and uncertainty, not just around physical health, but mental health, too.

Losing a job is much more than losing a paycheck and it can be one of the most stressful experiences you can go through in your lifetime. In addition to a loss of income, you may feel rejected, embarrassed, and vulnerable, and feel a loss of identity and purpose.

“It’s common for people to experience high levels of stress and symptoms of anxiety or depression during unemployment. This is because of job loss may also represent a loss of identity, especially in cultures where people associate work with personal value, a sense of normalcy, and structure,” according to WorkingNation partner Psych Hub, an online platform focused on reducing stigma about seeking mental health care.

Psych Hub logo

Psych Hub says it important that you recognize that “factors outside of you control, like issues with the economy” may have played a role in losing your job.

“Try to avoid blaming yourself, isolating from others or relying on substance use during this time of transition. Instead, focus on how to solve problems,” says the organization. And if you do begin to feel down or hopeless, reach out to a mental health professional for help dealing with your stress and/or depression.

Learn More About Coping with Job Loss in this video from WorkingNation partner, Psych Hub

Bolstering Your Mental Health

Judy Ho, a Los Angeles-based clinical neuropsychologist, says it is important that you remember practices that can bolster your mental health.

“Sleeping well, exercising, eating well—all these basic needs, as simple as it sounds, can be really effective in times of stress,” according to Ho. She agrees that it is important to not become too isolated. “I have been telling people to just make sure that they are staying connected to loved ones, even if they’re feeling guilty or ashamed. Oftentimes, when people are feeling depressed or anxious, they don’t want to bother other people and they hide away. I encourage them to at least reach out to somebody that is important to them once a day.”

Maintaining a routine is important. “I’ve been trying to teach people to really structure their day so that they can feel a higher sense of control and a higher sense of well-being. What you’re trying to do is take your body and your mind out of that constancy of stress which we know has so many negative mental, physical concerns—and try to put them in a state where the body can recuperate,” says Ho.

COVID-19: Tips for Managing Social Isolation
COVID-19: Mental Health Issues and Coping

More Advice from Judy Ho, PhD:

Tips for Dealing with Mental Stress After Job Loss
Advice to Employers Who Have Laid Off Workers

Find a Mental Health Care Professional:

National Institute of Mental Health

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454 or visit them online