Five Ways Bounce Back After Getting Laid Off

After only three months on the job, Dave Joseph, 24, of Boston, found himself joining the ranks of a group that has grown since January 2008 to include more than 7 percent of Americans.

He became unemployed.

The recent college graduate moved to Boston to work for an industrial design firm, but after the company announced budget cuts, he said he found himself low on the totem pole. He was laid off on Christmas Eve.

"You assume that when you graduate college you're going to get a job," said Joseph. "I worked hard to make that college-to-job reality happen, so to have it come crashing down after a couple months was hard to deal with."

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting more than a half-million jobs lost in January, and larger companies enduring hiring freezes, many Americans are finding the stalemate economy has also put a check on their emotional health.

Joseph said although his company has given him great recommendations, he is worried about enduring the job search again.

"I know it's a tough climate, but I feel anxious that I'm not doing enough," said Joseph.

Getting Back to Work

According to Dr. Charles Raison, director of the Mind-Body program at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, an economic low is often parallel to an individual's emotional low.

"[Uncertainty] makes people feel less confident of themselves, less adequate, and those are essential in your next job interview," said Raison. "It can sometimes be a perfect storm of emotions, and then you have to go out and try to sell yourself."

But there are ways to boost your emotional health and bounce back from a job loss, he said.

"The bounce-back challenge is not the practicality of getting the job again," said Raison. "The real challenge is keeping your brain and body from going into a state where stressors have hit your health."

In fact, many studies have linked stress to increased health risks including depression and heart disease.

"You don't want this economic crisis to put you in a mood state," he said. "You need that brain and body in the future when things turn around."

How to Deal with Losing Your Job

The following are a few strategies to manage your emotional health after a job loss.

Cool It

While many Americans hope the new stimulus package will provide some relief in the year ahead, many who were recently laid off or are facing layoffs are looking for a more imminent solution, such as a new job, to recover from their job loss. But, according to Josh Klapow, clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Public Health, a clear mind is the first step to finding a new job.

"Within the first 24 hours of being laid off, the best thing is to do nothing. Regroup," said Klapow. "I encourage people to just cool it."

In the immediate aftermath of a job loss, a person's memory and concentration can be impaired, said Klapow. This can cause many to feel anger or rage and perhaps lash out to family members, former coworkers or even bosses.

"Don't do anything in the first 24 hours that may cause regret later," he said.

But some opt instead to take constructive action. As for Joseph, immediately after receiving his notice he inquired about other projects he could take on within his company and asked his supervisor for recommendations.

"My initial thoughts were, 'What am I going to do?' rather than, 'Why did you do this to me?'" said Joseph.

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