Losing your job may come as a shock or a relief, depending on how happy you were at work.
If work fills a huge space in your life, and pretty much defines your identity, then losing your job may feel catastrophic. If work is just something you do to earn money, then you may not take redundancy quite so personally. Either way, it may be tough to remember that your role was made redundant, not you.
Redundancy is bound to create uncertainty. How you deal with uncertainty may well influence how you cope with the impact of being made redundant – and how much energy you put into making new plans for the future. Not knowing what’s going to happen can be a major cause of stress and anxiety. Redundancy can make you feel as though you’ve lost your grip on life and can throw you into survival mode. Your mental health may also be affected by the pressures around not knowing what will happen next in your life.
Redundancy is a loss, which is why it can sometimes help to reframe redundancy as a grieving process. The ‘dual process model’ of grief, created by Stroebe and Schut, looks at the ‘backwards and forwards’ way we try to move on with our lives after a major loss. They talk about ‘loss-orientated’ responses (focusing on dealing with the grief) and ‘restoration-orientated’ responses (focusing on building a new life after the loss). We will oscillate between the two sets of responses – in other words, we’ll have good days and bad days. Giving ourselves permission to experience both good and bad will help us process our feelings in the long run.
Both loss and restoration can be stressors that we confront or avoid, which is why it’s also important to create some respite from both positions. Here we consider the ‘loss’, ‘restoration’ and ‘respite’ aspects of redundancy.
- Accept that you’ll feel a mix of emotions: anger, anxiety, disappointment, fear, regret, relief, sadness, shame. Emotions may creep up on you from nowhere and you can feel in a tailspin. If you accept that this is all part of the process, then it may be easier to cope with emotions when they come crashing over you. Know that they will pass.
- Keep an eye on your stress levels. Redundancy can come as a shock, which can heighten your physical and emotional responses, and you’ll need some time to process the news.
- You may notice your thoughts spiralling into worst-case ‘what if’ scenarios. Try writing your thoughts down to get them out of your head – and then rip up the paper. Fretting about the future may be part of your reaction to redundancy but try not to dwell in your worries.
- Take some time to lick your wounds. Don’t make any rash decisions at this point. You’ll need time for those wounds to heal.
- Give yourself permission not to feel OK for a while.
- Create a new structure in your life. Your old routine may have disappeared, but don’t allow yourself to get lost in doing nothing.
- How can you regain some sense of control when decisions have been made for you? It may help to start reviewing your finances and to get real about the practical aspects of what redundancy means for you. Seek financial advice if you need to.
- It may help to review your strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities, to start considering where a next career move might take you.
- Reach out to people you know and have conversations about possibilities to help you re-build your confidence.
- Researching training courses and exploring other options may help to create a renewed sense of agency and a feeling that you do have choices in life.
- Do the things you always promised yourself you would do if you only had the time.
- Connect with friends and family and promise yourself you won’t talk about work.
- Amplify your self-care: be kinder to yourself than you were when you were working.
- Rediscover what it feels like to relax.
- Redundancy can sometimes throw up some big existential questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose? Having some space and time may give you an opportunity to reflect on what you truly want from life and what brings you meaning.
If you’ve been made redundant and are struggling to cope and could benefit from talking to a professional, then get in touch with us. We’ll match you with a therapist who’s right for you. Call 020 8673 4545 or email [email protected] We have therapy sessions available seven days a week in our private and low-cost services at Clapham, Tooting and online.