When you think of loss and grief, unemployment may not be the first cause that springs to mind, but when you lose your job, sorrow may be with you every day ... and every night. For many women in the workforce, a job is more than a way of putting food on the table – it may define you socially, or endow you with a fulfilling sense of purpose. When you lose all that, the emotional impact is very real. However, there are reasons to have hope.
Initial numbness, followed by anxiety and a feeling of helplessness, tend to surface at the moment of job loss. These feelings often spring from financial issues, as you ask yourself where you'll get the money to stay afloat during your new job search. Worries about how will you get by without a consistent paycheck buzz through your brain. Having dependents, of course, amplifies these feelings, which may also include anger, sadness, and self-blame.
Once the initial crisis settles, losing your job essentially begins a period of transition in your life. During this transition, you may experience low morale and a sense of uncertainty. Over time, losing your job may cause you to question your self-identity, especially if your career was a major factor in defining the way you view yourself. Long-term unemployment may increase anxiety about aging, as older women who lose their jobs feel the stress of competing with younger, more tech-savvy applicants.
More to Consider
Surprisingly, the blanket emotional effects of losing your job creep in to unexpected places. Job loss may lead to sleep problems – a product of anxiety that may in turn lead to health problems – and it may even cause some women to avoid social situations, due to embarrassment or a simple lack of desire to talk about their situation ad naseum. At the end of the day, job loss affects each woman differently, so you may experience feelings different from anyone else's -- for better or worse.
Carl Van Horn of Rutgers University calls the negative effects of job loss “a silent epidemic.” He says you must first speak up to yourself if you want to identify the problem and move on. Despite the difficulty and possibility of rejection, Van Horn maintains that continuing to seek new employment, attending job fairs and visiting career centers, helps to give you a sense of resolution and hope. Avoid blaming yourself, especially if you lost your job because of economic conditions. Be honest with your loved ones about your situation and your feelings, rather than harboring them until they boil over. Take advantage of any job-seeking resources offered by your previous employer or your community -- above all, be proactive.
- Journal of Occupational Health Psychology: Links in the Chain of Adversity Following Job Loss: How Financial Strain and Loss of Personal Control Lead to Depression, Impaired Functioning, and Poor Health
- ABC News: Poll: Layoffs Take Heavy Emotional Toll
- Stanford University Faculty and Staff Help Center: Coping with the Emotional Impact of a Layoff
- Academy of Management Journal: Expressive Writing and Coping with Job Loss
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