Losing a job can be devastating -- and not just financially. What you do for a living is a part of your identity and often a source of personal pride, so it can feel emotionally jarring to lose it. The American Psychological Association notes that unemployment can lead to anxiety, depression, and loss of life satisfaction.  

The good news is that it doesn't need to be a permanent setback, and there are things you can do to nurture your wounds and move forward as you cope.


Manage Your Emotions

As with other types of loss, you should allow yourself time to grieve when you lose a job. This is a significant loss, and you likely will mourn your daily routine, the stability of your income and other benefits, and the parts of your identity and lifestyle that were attached to your position. It's natural to feel sad, angry, depressed, or numb. Recognizing and accepting these emotions can help you work through them. 


Face Your Finances

It may be tempting to look at how your job loss impacts your financial picture, but you may risk much more stress later on if you don't crunch some numbers right away. Now is the time to look for opportunities to cut back on spending. 

Evaluate all of your monthly payments and see if you can eliminate things, even for just a short time. Small expenses add up -- you may be surprised at how much money you're spending in total on apps and streaming services, for instance, that only cost several dollars a month. 

Be proactive about taking advantage of income assistance, such as unemployment benefits, if you qualify. There may be other resources, at the state or federal level, available to you, as well. 


Make Self-Care a Priority

Make the most of your time at home, and take steps to maintain a little normalcy. Have a plan for each day. Wake up at the same time, even if you don't have anywhere you need to go. 

Shower and get dressed. Take a morning walk or try a free online exercise class -- staying physically active is important for both your physical and mental health. Practicing self-care and maintaining good hygiene can boost your mood and overall sense of optimism. Sticking with a routine will help you feel better and transition into starting a new job more easily. 


Next Steps

While giving yourself space to grieve, checking on your finances, and practicing self-care are all important, you likely are wondering what you should be doing next in terms of your job search. There are a number of things you can do that may help increase your chances for success:

  • Work on your resume. Highlight any new skills you picked up since you last updated it.

  • Speaking of skills, you might consider using this time to pick up some new ones or brush up on old ones. You can learn a lot from online courses or even YouTube videos.

  • Figure out the next step you want to take in your career. Be optimistic about what might ahead for you and how these things can bring you even closer to your goals.

  • Seek out new opportunities. Plan time in your schedule to search for new jobs. Reach out to employers personally, over the phone, or online—network with friends and former colleagues. Making contact with people over the phone is a great way to show enthusiasm. 

Losing a job can trigger feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt. Taking charge of your situation and doing your best to maintain some normalcy. Taking care of your physical and mental health and being proactive about seeking new opportunities can help you be motivated and optimistic.