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Laid Off? 8 Ways to Mentally Recover

Get yourself into a positive frame of mind before you tackle your new job search.

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Feel all the feelings

When I was laid off in 2012, I used all of my energy (and facial muscles) to keep myself from crying. Even though I was one of many people laid off that day, and I knew the reasoning had more to do with the company’s bottom line than with my job performance, it still felt personal. And it was crushing. But instead of hiding your grief, let it out, experts say. “Give yourself time and permission to feel anger, sadness, resentment, and shock. Don’t bury these emotions, let them arise,” says Kristi Daniels, author of Thrive 9 to 5: Your Guide To Peak Performance at Work. Take a few days to feel the blues, and set a date for when you’ll get back in the game.

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Confide in your squad

“You might feel embarrassed or anxious and want to be alone, but now’s the time to surround yourself with friends and family,” says Lori Scherwin, founder of Strategize That, a New York City firm that helps clients build winning career strategies. The people who love you and know you well will be your best advisers and cheerleaders. The support they provide will give you the confidence to seek out—and land—your next great job. These are the trickiest job interview questions and how to nail them.

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Shift your point of view

“Reframe the layoff as an opportunity to create the career experience you really want,” advises Daniels. Many people get too comfortable in their jobs, or just don’t have the time or energy to pursue their passions. Although unexpected, losing your job gives you the kick you might have needed to rethink your direction and focus on a field you truly enjoy. You might not realize you have these important “invisible” job skills.

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Make a change

A few weeks (and many resume submissions) after I lost my job, it occurred to me that I had been feeling frustrated and was itching to get out of my hometown for a while anyway. If there was ever a good motivation to try out a new city, it was being jobless in the city where I lived. I moved to Boston, met my fiancé six weeks later and, less than a year after that, took a job that changed the course of my career. A move might not be the answer for everyone, but getting laid off presents a great opportunity to shake up your routine and start fresh.

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Get some rest

You don’t have to clock in come morning, but don’t use that as an excuse to stay up—or out—late. It may be tempting to binge watch series after series on Netflix, but a lack of sleep can be detrimental to both your outlook and your focus. “In addition to the well-known, short-term impacts of sleep loss like moodiness or difficulty concentrating, there appear to be long-term problems in emotional functioning,” Matthew Feldner, author of Sleep and Affect: Assessment, Theory and Clinical Implications told Huffington Post. So get your zzz’s, and start your day with positive energy.

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Your job situation is your number-one concern right now, and it’s likely all-consuming. “Give yourself an emotional reprieve from any anxiety by spending some time supporting others through their difficult circumstances,” suggests Scherwin. Pick a cause or organization that is meaningful to you and donate some of your time. It will put things in perspective, add value to your resume, and might also help you network and connect with like-minded people.

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File for unemployment

Start the process as soon as possible, even if you received a severance package. Keeping a cash flow while you look for a new job will help ease some anxiety. “Don’t wait until you think you qualify,” according to “It can be such a hassle and such a long, drawn-out process that the sooner you start, the better.”

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Dive in to your job search

After I was laid off, the first thing I did when I got back to my desk was update my resume. I immediately went into survival mode, and instinctively felt I needed to start preparing for the job search ahead. I also logged on to, scrolled through the “people you may know,” and connected with anyone I actually knew. I sent emails to my friends in my industry, letting them know about my situation and explaining I’d be looking for work. Within days, I had a few solid leads. The best way to mentally recover from a layoff? Make a connection that will help you land an interview and, eventually, a job. Make sure you never say these words in job interviews, and always say these words.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest