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Being laid off is one of the most stressful things to happen to a person. Studies have shown that it is as stressful as suffering a major illness and almost as stressful as divorce or going to jail. Staying mentally healthy after a layoff is a key to riding out the financial turbulence and finding a new job. There are several vital things works can do to stay balanced during this challenging life event.

The first thing to remember is that you didn’t do anything wrong; losing your job because you were laid off is not your fault. People usually are fired because did something wrong, like stealing from the company or refusing to complete their work. When people are laid off, it’s often because the position is no longer needed, such as in a factory plant closing.

Upon receiving the news that they were laid off, some people react badly. They may burst into tears or scream at the person who delivered the news. While this is not ideal behavior, the managers doing the layoffs are professionals and understand that it is an emotional time. Feeling guilty about how you acted, if you reacted poorly, is normal. You can alleviate these feelings by sending an email or a note to the manager apologizing and explaining that you were surprised by the news and that you became overwrought.

Anger is a normal emotion to have after being laid off. Once the shock of losing their job wears off, many people may fantasize about hurting their boss or filing a lawsuit. While it is perfectly fine to fantasize, it is a bad idea to follow through. Assaulting someone will stay on your record for years, or maybe decades, and will make it that much harder to find a new job. Even filing a lawsuit, though it is your right to do so, could result in your being blacklisted in your industry or stuck with legal fees you cannot pay.

After the layoff, do not hide the news from your family. Upon arriving home, state the story clearly and slowly. Do not come across as overly dramatic or angry. You may tell them, “Honey, I have some unfortunate news about my job. My company was forced to lay people off, and I was regrettably one of those people. There is no negotiation; their decision is final.” Emphasize that you were not fired but laid off through no fault of your own. Give a brief rundown of what happened, who gave you the news and where, what they said and how they said it, and how you responded and felt during and after the process. It will help if you mention names of people who also got laid off and the number of people so that your family knows that this was part of something bigger and was unavoidable.

Layoffs can be emotionally taxing. Your first instinct may be to pretend it never happened or to buy new electronics or clothes or go on a fancy vacation to cheer everyone up. That is a bad idea. There is no money coming into your household; therefore spending should be drastically reduced, and new debt avoided at all costs. While you may be sad and in need of cheering up, instead of spending money, you might go for a walk, read a book to your children, or play with your dog. There are also free events in your community that you could attend.

Experiencing a layoff can be damaging to the psyche. Understanding that it is not your fault, not hiding the fact that you were laid off, and taking steps to stay mentally balanced are critical to keeping you in the right frame of mind to find and accept a new job.

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