If you unexpectedly lose your job, you may feel stunned, worried, angry, embarrassed, scared, and any number of other emotions. Most of all, you may be asking yourself, “Now what?” The first and most important thing for you to do is give yourself some time and space to process the range of emotions you will likely feel. Recognize that this will be a difficult and challenging time for you, and you will need to be kind to yourself.
The first few minutes, hours, days, and weeks of dealing with the reality of your job loss may be some of the most challenging. These strategies can help you deal with each stage of the process.
In the first few minutes, try not to become overwhelmed by anxiety or panic. Most likely, you will be given notice of your termination by your supervisor and a human resources staff member. You may or may not be given a reason for the termination, and this will likely make you feel frustrated. Try to remain calm. Breathing deeply, finding a visual focus point, and meditating through the meeting can help. It can be helpful to listen, but many people find it impossible to focus during a termination meeting.
If you cannot process what you are being told, simply do your best to get through the meeting without displaying emotion. Avoid the temptation to bargain or plead for your job. By this time, it is most likely too late to make a difference. Remember that it is perfectly acceptable for you to contact your human resources office for more information on benefits, your termination package (if any) and other supports available to you after you have had time to calm down and reassess your situation.
In the hours following your termination, it may be helpful to reach out to your closest friend, a pastor, therapist, or family members to talk about your experience. Depending on the way you handle stress, it may also be helpful to go for a run, work out, sleep, spend time with your pets, or read a book.
The point for this time period is to give yourself the time you need to clear your mind so that you can think clearly and constructively about your situation.
In the days and weeks that follow, it will be important for you to assess your financial situation, ensure that you use, as carefully as possible, all the financial resources and community support services you have available to you, determine what you want to do in the future with your work, and develop a plan to work toward those goals.