Dealing with a Pandemic: How Sudden Job Loss Affects Your Mental Health

Job loss is something that can happen for a number of reasons. Your employer might need to cut back on employees, you might not be a good fit for the position, or you’re changing career paths. None of these reasons is quite as jarring as losing your job during a global emergency. 

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, people across the globe are suddenly losing their jobs at rapid speed. While employees might have received some warning signs that firing was on the horizon in the past, this wasn’t the case amidst the pandemic outbreak. Instead, people were given little to no notice at all before businesses shut down. Some might open again in the future, returning those jobs back to employees. Others, however, will stay shut for good. 

Where does this leave everyone who just found themselves without a job? Since non-essential businesses have been instructed by the government to close their doors for the foreseeable future, it’s not clear what happens next. With fewer jobs hiring than ever before and more people finding themselves unemployed, the situation doesn’t look optimistic. 

However, the real worry has to do with how all of this affects people’s mental health. If you found yourself facing sudden job loss during this pandemic, you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at how this affects your mental health as well as actionable steps you can take today. 

The Mental Health Impact of Losing Your Job

When you lose your job, it’s common to go into fight or flight mode. Your body reacts to the very real threat of not being able to find the essentials (food, water, shelter). If you don’t have an emergency fund or savings to fall back on, you might be paralysed with fear for your family. 

Psychologists have conducted a lot of research on what happens to your body and your mind after a sudden job loss. Some of the most common experiences are:

  • Increased anxiety – The first and most common mental health effect has to do with your anxiety levels. As you start to worry more about how you’ll afford food, medications, childcare, your car payment, etc, these thoughts can take over your life. 
  • Trouble sleeping – Another important aspect of job loss and mental health is sleep trouble. All of that increased anxiety doesn’t stop when it’s time to go to bed. You could find yourself spending half the night worrying, leading to groggy mornings. 
  • Self-doubt – It’s also common to question why you lost your job. Even if the answer is clearly the pandemic, it’s hard not to blame yourself. It’s essential that you keep everything in perspective and remember that brighter days are ahead. 
  • Depression – Finally, it’s possible to develop depression after losing your job. While extreme, many people feel a sense of hopelessness. They’re not sure what steps to take next, and they feel like they let their family down. 

While these symptoms are undeniably alarming, there are a number of ways to relieve your financial and mental health burden even during the pandemic. Remember, you’re not in this alone. 

Strategies for Improving Your Mental Health

Mental health and job loss are intensely connected. When your job is going well, you feel great. When you lose your job suddenly (even during an emergency like a pandemic), everything seems to fall apart. The most important thing to do is to take action. If you can spare some time before jumping back into the job market, take these steps to put your mental health first. 

  • Keep things in perspective – Remember why you were fired. If it was due to the pandemic, know that there was nothing you could do. Millions of others are in this same situation, and you’re not the only one experiencing these troubles. 
  • Look for financial resources – Next, look for financial resources to help you get through this. One of the biggest worries is how you’ll pay for your household expenses. If you get this taken care of, whether it’s through a Centrelink program or help from a family member, you’ll find yourself feeling a world of relief. 
  • Talk to someone – This isn’t the time to bottle up your feelings for a rainy day. It can be hard to express how you feel, especially during a pandemic. Find someone you trust who you can talk to during this time. 

Brighter Days Ahead: Mental Health and Job Loss

Dealing with a job loss during the best of circumstances is hard. Experiencing job loss during a pandemic is even more of a challenge. As we learn more about the future of our economy, it’s not always clear what comes next. 

However, it’s still important that you prioritise your mental health and financial well-being. Having a healthy approach to your mindset during this time prepares you to tackle new challenges in the future. 
Do you need help adjusting to a new financial situation? Whether you lost your job permanently or temporarily, we can help. Contact the Debt Busters team on 1300 368 322 to talk to an expert today.

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