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The current global pandemic has turned the world upside down.

And as a result, many have been significantly impacted by being laid off from work. This job loss can feel very unsettling on top of already uncertain and chaotic times.




If you are struggling with being laid off in light of COVID-19, here are 7 reminders to help you cope with your loss:

#1 You Are Not Alone

The last thing anyone needs on top of dealing with the stress of the COVID-19 crisis is to be laid off from a job. Roughly 10 million people filed for unemployment in the past two weeks, a record breaking amount. Around one in four U.S. workers are employed in industries that are most likely to feel the impacts of the outbreak. The number of folks who have been laid off is unprecedented, to say the least.

#2 You Are Grieving A Loss

It can be helpful to remember that what you are experiencing by being laid off is in fact grief: loss of identity as an employee, loss of income, and loss of a sense of normalcy. You may be experiencing emotions associated with the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance). However, this experience is not linear; these feelings do not happen in a specific order, and it is normal to switch from one to the other.

Being present with each of these fluctuating emotions and reflecting on them can be useful and can help you cope with being laid off.

Your job was something that was once consistent, and has now been taken away from you- and such a sudden change can leave you feeling a range of emotions. It is normal to need some time to process what has happened before feeling ready to move forward. Being present with each of these fluctuating emotions and reflecting on them can be useful and can help you cope with being laid off.


#3 Stay Connected With Others

Especially in times of social distancing and shelter in place orders, as social creatures, it is crucial for us to stay connected. Maybe you have coworkers or social supports who have also been laid off from their jobs, and who can sympathize with your loss. Reaching out to friends and family who can support you through this hardship is essential. People in your life want to be able to help you, so it’s important to share your news with them; and it’s also okay to set boundaries around how much information you want to share.


Remember, you are not alone in this; even if your supports were not laid off, they are also experiencing their own sense of grief and shift in life due to COVID-19. If you live with others, ask for support and quality time when you need it. And if you are already seeing a therapist, it could be a good idea to continue seeking support through this outlet; you may even be able to talk to them about arranging a reduced fee in light of your job loss. It can help to schedule phone calls, video chats, or other virtual social gatherings with those who are important to you. This is a difficult time, and it’s okay to need encouragement as you cope with being laid off.


#4 Prioritize Routine

After being laid off in this time of pandemic, maintaining structure can be beneficial. Prioritizing a routine in which you are sleeping enough, eating well, making time for exercise, and tending to hygiene habits will likely help you tend to your own mental and emotional well-being. This newfound time can also be an opportunity to incorporate new things into your routine . Maybe you have a book you’ve been wanting to finish, a cooking recipe that you want to try, or would like to take advantage of various free classes that are being offered online right now. Recognizing the silver linings in this situation can be useful. And, it may be useful to dedicate time to searching for a new job, or seeking resources that can provide you with financial support during this interim. However, it is understandable if you need some time to decompress and process before jumping into a new job.


#5 Be Kind To Yourself 

You are coping with being laid off, and it is not your fault that this happened. In these confusing and chaotic times of global crisis, emphasizing self-care and practicing self-compassion can be really vital. Think of what is going to be most helpful to get you back on your feet. What do you do to treat yourself with kindness? How can you look at this situation through a lens of self-compassion and understanding? Maybe adopting some kind of affirmation during this time could be useful, such as “This was out of my control”, or “ These are difficult times, and I am dealing with a loss” in attempts to normalize what you’re experiencing.


#6 Let Go Of What You Cannot Control

In coping with being laid off, it may be a natural inclination to question if you could have done something differently. While this is a natural response to such an event, it is important to remind yourself that these are unprecedented times, and that this layoff occurred out of your own control. It could be helpful to reflect on what you do have control of in your current situation, such as your attitude, how you spend the time that you have now, and control over how you decide to take care of yourself.


#7 These Things Take Time

Along with not having control over being laid off, you cannot control how long it may take to find a new job. With COVID-19 majorly impacting the economy and various industries, it is likely that it may take longer than you would like to find a new job. It can be useful to set realistic goals during this time, and to practice acceptance and self-compassion when things do not go as you would have hoped. It takes time to work on a resume, apply for jobs, virtually interview, etc. And also bear in mind, that with millions of Americans in a similar position, you are in solidarity with others if you end up filing for unemployment.

In summary, this is a huge loss you are going through, and you are not alone in your struggle. Millions of others are going through a similar experience of being laid off because of COVID-19, and are taking things day by day. You are doing the best you can, given the current circumstances. This pandemic exemplifies human resilience- and we need each other to get through it.





About the Author

Lilly Serva is a Licensed Therapist (LCSW) at Well Clinic in San Francisco. In her words, “My foremost goal is to provide a warm and safe environment in which you feel respected.”

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