Dealing with Feelings and Keeping a Positive Mental Attitude

The shock of losing a job can be surprisingly intense. Even people who may rationally understand that their job may be in jeopardy may have a difficult time coping with the flood of emotions that typically accompany unemployment.

It's very common to feel angry, frustrated, bewildered, isolated, embarrassed or even ashamed after losing a job. Many people also experience grief, anxiety or feelings of desperation. It's not unusual for your self-confidence, or even your faith in the future, to be shaken when you lose a job.

These powerful feelings can disrupt sleeping and eating patterns and trigger angry or tearful outbursts without warning.

Communicate: It doesn't help to deny or ignore these feelings. Trying to escape them by turning to alcohol or drugs will only exacerbate the problem. You'll be less likely to find a new job, and you could wind up losing things – such as your family or your health – that are much more important than the job you lost.

What does help is to acknowledge your feelings and talk about them with your family and friends. When you communicate openly, you release tension while strengthening your ties to others. Be careful not to lash out at your spouse, children or friends, though. They're innocent, and they're on your side. They can also help remind you that work is only one part of your life, and that you are still the same special person you were before you became unemployed.

Understand that your unemployment has an impact on the whole family. Include them in your plans, listen to their concerns and enlist their help in conserving financial resources and making sacrifices. Working together through hard times can truly strengthen your family.

If, however, you withdraw from social contact and avoid communication, you'll only feel more isolated and more depressed. Besides, you might also miss hearing about job openings.

Relax and Unwind: Regular, vigorous exercise can help alleviate stress, dissipate anger and elevate your mood. It can also help relieve problems with sleeping or appetite.

Getting involved in a hobby or a charity can help, too. Fight anxiety by staying busy. Do something, anything, as long as it is productive.

Letting go of the past is important, too. You should, of course, examine what happened.

If you know you did something to bring about your job loss, learn from it. You don't want to repeat past mistakes. But rehashing the past over and over, berating yourself for what you could have done differently, will only get in the way of making your new future.

Even if everyone agrees that you did nothing to warrant the pink slip, you still need to let go. Don't keep refueling anger toward your old boss. Prospective employers don't want to hire angry, bitter people.