Health

It is a well documented fact that stress is bad for your health and losing your job can cause major stress. Stress can be a contributory factor to illness as it may weaken your immune system and cause symptoms such as headaches, poor digestion and sleeplessness. Many of us experience different levels of stress throughout our lives and use a range of coping strategies.

Sometimes events in our lives are so stressful and shocking that they can be described as traumatic. The trauma of losing your job can have a similar effect to the trauma of discovering you have to face a terminal illness, a divorce or bereavement. All are examples of situational loss and research has shown that similar patterns of emotions and behaviour are associated with traumatic events in our lives and these tend to follow five stages.

The basic five stages in relation to job loss are Denial (I can't have lost my job), Anger (I can't believe they did this to me), Bargaining (If only I can talk to my boss maybe I can get my job back), Depression (What is the point of carrying on?) and finally Acceptance (Ok, I've lost my job but it's time to move on).


Elizabeth Kubler - Ross Stages of Change

You may recognise the feelings associated with these stages or be in the midst of them at the moment, so how do you begin to regain control and move forward? It is normal to go through all of these emotions but by recognising the need to deal with them some people are able to accelerate the process.

  • Although it may be hard, you need to talk about your feelings, to family and friends if you feel able.
  • If this isn't possible you can talk to your GP, a member of the clergy or a counsellor. Talking through your problems can give you the clarity you need to move forward. Hiding your feelings just means that you have to deal with them at a later date and you may get stuck in the early stages of the cycle of change.
  • If you notice symptoms of depression then you should talk to your GP. These symptoms can include; sleeplessness, over eating, lack of appetite, over dependence on alcohol or drugs, palpitations, thoughts of suicide or self harm, general low self-esteem, inability or avoidance of communication or lack of social interaction. There is no shame in feeling bad after such a shocking event and you don't have to suffer in silence. The Depression Alliance may be able to help you.
  • Becoming unemployed affects other people, particularly your family and partner. Telling your partner you have been dismissed or made redundant is a traumatic experience. There have been cases of people pretending to go to work for months after losing a job in the vain hope of resolving their situation without admitting the truth.
  • Being honest with your partner means you can enlist their support when you need it the most. Inevitably some relationships are not up to the test and marital breakdown can occur. Relate can offer help and advice on maintaining a relationship in times of trauma and adversity. 
  • On a day to day basis there are things you can do to look after your health. Maintain a healthy diet, watch your alcohol intake, take regular exercise and maintain a daily routine to give you focus.
  • Sometimes the best support you can receive is through advice and information from other people who have experienced redundancy or dismissal. You can chat with other people who are going through the same experience as you on our forum.

If you are struggling with your feelings and need to talk to someone face to face you can go to your GP, a priest, vicar or counsellor.

If you're in severe emotional distress the Samaritans are there for you 24 hours a day. They offer 24 hour confidential support. Go to www.samaritans.org for details. Call 08457 90 90 90 or email jo@samaritans.org.

Other useful organisations with expertise in offering emotional support: