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How to cope if you lose your job

The pandemic has created financial worries for everyone, but in particular for those who have lost their job. TTG speaks to a psychiatrist for coping advice

With the worries that travel professionals who have lost their jobs are facing, it can be difficult to stay positive and find ways to cope on a-day to-day basis.


Experts agree that people who lose their job experience some of the same feelings and stresses that you would if you were seriously injured, going through a divorce, or mourning the loss of a loved one, says Doctor Andrew Iles, consultant psychiatrist at Priory’s Oxford Wellbeing Centre.


“Knowing that we have a stable income and have our finances in a healthy state is important for general wellbeing. Few people can tolerate strains on their financial position without feeling worry or concern,” he says.


“Feeling secure and well-provided for is a basic human need and anything which seeks to undermine that is likely to cause us to feel worried, depressed and fearful.”


Losing a job can be especially tough because many people describe their job or career as a vocation which provides structure, job satisfaction and self-fulfillment.


“Jobs make us feel that we have purpose. For those of us who have children, it is one way we perform our duty of being a role model. Losing one’s job can lead to feelings of embarrassment and shame, or the fear that other people might see us as unsuccessful,” adds Iles.

Coming to terms


It is unhelpful in the long run to ignore the effects that losing a job will have on both your daily life and your family. “This is the point at which you should be compassionate with yourself. Always allow others to support you in whatever way they can,” advises Iles.


The first important step is to take a short amount of time to process the situation and make sure that you take care of yourself during this period.


Try not to take the loss of your job personally and remember that there are many factors outside of your control which may have led to your job loss, says Iles. “In current times, remember that it may not have been financially viable for your job role to be retained. It is not about your work or your productivity, but about the job role and ongoing viability for someone in that position.”


Once you have been able to process what has happened, getting enough sleep is vital to wellbeing. “It may be difficult to do, but try to use [meditation] apps that might help like Headspace and Calm.”


Manage your job search routine


Taking small but practical steps is key during a job hunt and can involve tasks including updating your CV, reaching out to all your contacts in other organisations, volunteering or taking any part-time work.


Make sure you use any help on offer to you, for example any retraining package or one-on-one coaching that might help you transition between jobs, adds Iles. “Ask friends to mention to their friends, potentially via sites like LinkedIn, that you are looking for work and come highly recommended.”


Try to keep days and evenings separate, as you would if you were working and build a routine to break up the hours and give a sense of order.


“When we have structure, we know what the parameters and the rules are, and that decreases a sense of not knowing, which then decreases anxiety,” says Iles.

Keep stress levels down


Limiting the amount of time spent reading or watching the news can lower exposure to information that triggers stress levels. Iles explains: “Those who find themselves watching multiple reports of the same stories are likely to benefit the most from self-censorship.”


Walks and any other exercise which gets you out of the house and soaking up daylight can be highly beneficial in boosting mood. Getting into bad habits such as drinking more alcohol should be avoided as this might bring temporary relief but is likely to turn into additional problems further down the line, says Iles.


Most importantly, be kind to yourself, says Iles. “Struggling with uncertainty is difficult so lower your standards for yourself, and recognise the small moments of achievement when you show resilience or strength.”


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